Dead Man's Hand

posted by Bill - 

It's interesting what gets our phones ringing and the email and Facebook response we get on our morning show, AM Savannah that airs weekday mornings from 6-to-9 on News Radio 97.7 & 1290 WTKS. We can talk about the most serious life-or-death topics and get little if any reaction.  But if we mention a surfing dog at Tybee the phone lights up.  The most recent episode of phone chatter was when, just in passing, I mentioned an article about an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which the writer noted that we were not giving our kids enough education on the greatness of America and suggested a year of military service and sort of bringing back the draft.  The phone lit up like a Christmas tree--the biggest phone activated topic in I don't know how many years.

Today was a similar response but it came over all media.  This is the anniversary of the murder of Wild Bill Hickok in (ironically enough) Deadwood, South Dakota in 1876.  Born James Butler Hickok he became an American Frontiersman, Army scout and lawman who helped bring order to the frontier West.  He is remembered for his services in Kansas as sheriff of Hays City and marshal of Abilene, where his iron-handed rule helped to tame two of the most lawless towns on the frontier.  He is also remembered for the cards he was holding when he was shot dead by the coward Jack McCall.  At 4:15 in the afternoon, the young gunslinger, McCall walked into the saloon, approached Hickok from behind, and shot him in the back of the head.  Hickok died immediately.  McCall tried to shoot others in the crowd, but amazingly, all of the remaining cartridges in his pistol were duds. 

 When I mentioned his death this morning I didn't mention the cards he was holding only that it has forever been known as Dead Man's Hand. The calls, emails and Facebook posts began pouring in.  So for the record he was holding two black aces and two black eights.  There is, however, no unanimous verdict on what the fifth card was.  Interesting the cards he was holding were black.  How McCall was able to get the drop on Hickok is interesting too.  A man of Hickok's reputation he ususlly insisted on sitting with his back to the wall and facing the door so he could see who was coming in.  But this afternoon he was playing cards with his back to the door--something he rarely did. McCall came in and came up right behind Hickok, quietly drew his revolver and fired the fatal shot.  In his first trial that was later overturned, he claimed Hickok had killed his brother.  As it turned out, McCall didn't have a brother.  He was convicted in the second trial and hanged.  

Thanks for listening and your interest.

Bill Edwards

Bill Edwards

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