In 1955 CBS introduced a western called Gunsmoke to its weekly format which not only immediately took television audiences by storm , but also quickly became one of the network’s highest rated television programs . Miss Kitty, Doc, Festus and Marshall Matt Dillon, along with the regular townsfolk of Dodge City, Kansas, kept people entertained and faithfully watching for a gratifying twenty long years. The show was staged in the early 1870’s and portrayed a small frontier town where most men carried a gun , the streets were made of boards and dirt, women were always seen in long dresses, and the local gathering place was The Longbranch Saloon. My grandfather watched this western each week and if you visited him on the particular night that Gunsmoke was on it then became a part of your entertainment for the evening as well. I liked it then and I like it now. Each evening at a prompt 7:05 p.m. an episode of the ever- popular series is shown on Encore’s western channel. I hardly ever miss it. The attraction is partly due to nostalgic reasons, I suppose ,however, I still find it very entertaining. It takes me to a different time and allows me an escape from the hustle and bustle of our rat race world. Times were slow paced and senselessness was not tolerated ( or at least not for very long). Some of the later episodes that aired were in color, but strangely enough, I prefer the ones in black and white.
In the episode that was aired this evening a trouble making cowboy graced the doors of the Longbranch, and after a few displays of some very damaging shenanigans Matt soon took his gun and ordered him to be out of town in the morning. That’s what they did when anyone started trouble in the little town of Dodge City. They kicked you out of town and took your gun until it was time for you to leave. No gathering of the head honchos, no voting on whether or not the stranger had “rights”, just a good strong nudging and pick your gun up on the way out! Who needs troublemakers anyway? I won’t go into what happens when the cowboy doesn’t follow instructions very well. It was a simpler time when the marshal ruled and the bad guy knew the consequences. Plain and simple.
Sometimes judges were called upon but they only came around every few months so usually enforcing the law and making the decisions was entirely on the shoulders of the local marshall or sheriff. And I might add that dinner at the cafe was 10 cents, children got a “whupping” for acting up, and the local doctor was often paid in live chickens or whatever fresh vegetables were available from a patient’s garden.
Would I like to go to that era? Absolutely not.. I hate the thought of all men being allowed to carry a gun on their hip( not all are as wise and level headed as Marshall Dillon.) Nor getting my drinking water from a well out back in a huge wooden bucket or hanging my clothes on a line dripping wet over a grassless, bare and dusty lawn. I am quite satisfied, thank you very much, with settling myself in front of my television and watching Matt and Kitty flirting but never touching, Doc and Festus arguing over another game of checkers and the bad guy locked up in jail .
Time for a commercial. How about a snack?
Cowboy Coffee Cake
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup butter or shortening ( I like butter)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
2 well-beaten eggs
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Combine flour, sugar, salt& shortening- mix until crumbly.
Reserve 1/2 cup of crumbs.
To remaining crumbs add baking powder, soda& spices- mix thoroughly.
Add milk& eggs- mix well.
Pour into 2 greased& floured 8x8x2″ baking pans.
Sprinkle with reserved crumbs, nuts& cinnamon to taste
Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes