Their names had become legendary: Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickok and Texas Jack Omohundro. After taming the West, more or less, these three living
legends decide to tackle the wildest of all frontiers -- the theater stages of the East.
Based on actual events, East of the Border follows the 1873-74 theatrical tour of the three famous frontiersmen as they play themselves in Wild West stage elodramas in Eastern cities. Each has his own story to tell of that exciting time, and each tells his story in his own distinctive narrative voice.
Audiences loved the performances, as is amply evident from reviews of the period, but Johnny D. Boggs, winner of the Spur Award and Western Heritage Wrangler Award for his fiction, takes you behind the scenes, privy to the hilarity but also the pathos of these legendary plainsmen as revealed in their own words.
Meticulously researched, East of the Border is a rip-roaring comedy that captures the essence of America’s fascination with the Old West, then and now.
Excerpt from East of the Border:
The Theatre has not been as full for many a day as it was last night and Monday night. Buffalo Bill, Texas Jack, and Ned Buntline, the Scouts of the Prairies, have certainly drawn well since they have been in this city.
- Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia
May 14, 1873
Wild Bill was in his cups - had been for the better part of a week - which explains why Ike Hoff's Saloon was empty, except for my friend and one constantly twitching, wide-eyed barkeep, when Cody and I entered that groggery. Wild Bill, of course, is James B. Hickok, the famous pistol-fighter and scout, and by Cody, I refer to William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, the famous scout and actor. I am John B. "Texas Jack" Omohundro, the drover, scout, and actor not as famous as either Wild Bill or Buffalo Bill.
It comes to mind that I should give you a little background on what brought Cody and me to brace Wild Bill on that muggy summer day in Springfield, Missouri in 1873. I had befriended Cody in North Platte, Nebraska in 1869, a few months after making Wild Bill's acquaintance down in Hays City, Kansas. Making friends with them was easy since I was tending bar at both cities. Not that I'm a professional beer-jerker, mind you, but being barely twenty-three at the time, an out-of-work Rebel cavalryman-turned sailor-turned schoolteacher-turned Texas drover, I found my employment options limited, though Cody and Wild Bill later saw to it that I got work as a government scout.
Folks called us thick as thieves. Not only did we scout for the Army, we guided rich city folks - some from as far away as Europe - who came west wanting to hunt buffalo, antelope, and elk. They paid us quite handsomely, too. We drank whiskey, played poker (except Cody, who lacked the knack for paste cards), raced horses, and bet on them, wore greasy buckskins and our hair long, although mine never grew the way Cody's and Wild Billâ's did, and told big windies that nobody this side of Bedlam would believe, excepting Colonel Edward Zane Carroll Judson and George Ward Nichols.
"Twas Nichols, who likewise breveted himself "Colonel" when he wrote, who made Wild Bill famous with a piece he penned for Harper's New Monthly Magazine, and soon afterward you could hardly walk into a mercantile in the States or Territories without seeing some DeWitt's Ten Cent Romance about Wild Bill.
Naturally, you have heard all about Colonel Judson, alias Ned Buntline. Mayhap you have even attended one of his temperance lectures. They call him the "Destroyer of Demon Rum", and he could talk for hours - by jingo, in the play he wrote for us, The Scouts of the Prairie; And, Red Deviltry As It Is, after his character, Cale Durg, gets mortally stabbed in the heart with a bowie knife, why he would spend twenty minutes lecturing his actor-killer and the audience on the evils of intoxicating liquors before he expired. Sometimes, he would speak even longer, but when Cody and I saw the audience getting restless, we would run on stage, and start firing our six-shooters at wild Indians in the wings, forcing Durg-Buntline-Judson to hurry up with his dying.
Anyway, Colonel Judson can give a mighty fine speech about the vice of whiskey. Fact is, when sober, he can talk about anything, and no matter if he is in his cups or as sober as a Mormon, that man can write some of the most harrowing blood-and-thunder stories that will set your teeth to chattering.
Oh, yes, the play! The Scouts of the Prairie; And, Red Deviltry As It Is is what eventually led Cody and me to Missouri. Allow me to explain. Colonel Judson had met Cody and me, and written about us in these fanciful novels I have mentioned, and after he left us on the frontier, he returned East, and even allowed a gent to pen some play about Cody based on Colonel Judson's book and Cody's life. That's when Colonel Judson got this particular scheme in his head to turn Buffalo Bill The Scout into Buffalo Bill The Actor.
Copyright 2004 by Johnny D. Boggs