Written by Terry McGahey
Chapter Ten: Tail Lights On A Horse?
One afternoon while Jack, Ed and I were eating lunch at the Longhorn restaurant, a fellow we knew by the name of Will came in and asked if he could join us. He sat down and proceeded to tell us a story about what had happened to him on the night before.
He said that he had been riding through town just about sundown when the deputy marshal had pulled him over for riding his horse through town. He said that the deputy had thought that he was someone else so he let him go along his way without any trouble. He told us that he believed that the deputy thought that it was Jack who was riding through town, because Jack and Will were built alike. Both were tall and thin, and both of them rode Palomino horses.
Will told Jack to be careful because he was sure that the marshal’s office was after him, and he felt that they were going to try and nail Jack with some sort of trumped up charge. I guess that the rumor we had heard, about the Tombstone marshal wanting to nail us somehow because of our horses, must have been true.
After we finished our lunches, Jack and I headed for home because we needed to fix the roof over Jacks porch. Like I said before, we never went anywhere without a gun, and that wasn't any different while fixing the roof. Both Jack and I had taken our rifles up on the roof with us, and laid them near by while we were working.
Good thing! Because some fellow in an older van had drove down our road and pulled up to Jack’s house. He leaned out the window and asked us if we knew where Shieffelin’s monument was located.
Jack told him that he had taken the wrong turn in the road, and he needed to go back to the fork and follow it to the right. Then this fellow made the strangest comment to us.
He said, "You guys sure do make good targets up there."
Jack and I both grabbed our rifles and pointed them at him, and told him to get off our property before we buried him on it. With that he sped away quickly.
We couldn't figure if that fellow was joking, or was maybe one of the perpetrators, or just another nut who thought he wanted to live in Tombstone. Either way, that was the only time we had ever seen him.
We finished fixing the roof about an hour later, drank a few ice teas, and then I went home to clean up.
Later that afternoon Jack came over to my place to tell me that he had just been contacted by the Jerry Springer Show, and they wanted us to come on the show with a few of the Tombstone City Council members and argue our points of view on television.
It wasn't but just a few minutes later when Ron, the friend of ours who was on the city council, called to tell us that the Springer Show had contacted him about coming on the show.
He and Jack both said a representative of the show would be calling us again in a few days to set the whole thing up. Jack, Ed, Ron and I, all had a good laugh over being invited to the Springer Show, and let it go at that. Back then we didn't realize what the Jerry Springer show was all about. We thought it to be just another talk show.
A few days later the representative from the Springer Show called us again. This time she told us, trough Jack over the telephone, that Mr. Springer decided to cancel with us.
When Jack asked her why they had decided to cancel, she did not want to say, but did say that Mr. Springer had seen the tape of our interview with Charles Murphy and from that he had decided to cancel.
We knew why, because when Jerry Springer saw the Charles Murphy interview, he realized that he could not make us out to be the gun toting nuts that he wanted to present to his audience. Heaven forbid that someone who had stood up for their gun rights should ever be shown in a decent light. And double the curse on anyone, who would show the truth on television of how the leaders of a community could be in the wrong when it came to this subject.
It amazes me how Hollywood could care less about the truth of what is right or wrong; they only care about their own agenda, and their own precious ratings. In my opinion, truth takes a back seat when it comes to the agenda of the Hollywood big wigs, which is why I have no use for them.
Anyone who cannot, or will not, be truthful, cannot be trusted. So I was of the opinion that we were much better off that the Springer Show had canceled with us.
A few days or so went by, when one evening Jack asked me if I would like to take an evening pleasure ride with him through town. I really didn't feel like saddling my horse for just a ride through town so I declined.
When you spend enough time in the saddle on a working basis, the words "pleasure ride" become and oxymoron.
A few hours had gone by, and I was just relaxing on the porch, and enjoying the nice cool evening. It wasn’t quite dark yet, but dark enough where most everything looked to be nothing more than a shadow. I could see Jack and his horse, just barely, as he was riding down our road.
As he approached the area of my front porch, I asked if he had enjoyed his ride, and his reply was "Hell no! The marshal wrote me a ticket for riding through town during the evening without tail lights on my horse!”
I told Jack, "When you’re done with your horse and gear, come over and tell me about it".
Before long, Jack was walking through my door with the ticket in his hand, and he said, "You aren't going to believe this."
I took the ticket and read it over, and Jack was right! I couldn't believe what I was reading. Sure enough, it was a ticket for riding through town without tail lights on his horse. When he told me that he had received such a ticket as he first rode up, I must admit, I thought he was pulling my leg.
Jack then began to tell me what had happened. He said that one of the marshal’s deputy’s had pulled him over on Allen Street, and stated that he could not see Jack and his horse until he had pulled right up behind him, and that Jack was creating a dangerous situation because of it.
Now, anyone who has been to Tombstone knows that Allen Street is lit up along both sides of the road with old fashion looking street lamps, and the street is very well lit. There is no problem spotting anyone from at least one block away, so therefore the deputy was either telling an out and out lie, or he was truly blind.
I personally have never met a blind police officer throughout my life time, so I tend to believe as any rational person would, that the deputy was telling a bald faced lie, and was just trumping up a charge to nail Jack with.
We knew that something was coming our way from the marshal’s office, but not exactly what it would be, we were not aware of, but now we knew. They had begun to scrape the bottom of the barrel in order to harass us.
Jack said that the deputy had actually told him to put some kind of tail light on the rear end of his horse, so he replied to the deputy that he would gladly do so, if he would plug in the apparatus while Jack held up the tail. With that, the deputy handed Jack the ticket and drove away.
The next morning, I called my cousin with the Sierra Vista Herald, and when I told her what had happened to Jack on the previous evening, she laughed and said she couldn't believe it. She said that she would come over to Tombstone and interview Jack about the situation, and would be there in just a few hours.
The next morning, the interview and story written by my cousin about the horse with no tail lights had hit the news stands, and Tombstone was made to be the laughing stock of Chochise County.
The news show, “A Current Affair” had once again picked up our story over the Associated Press, and once again was coming to town. They also wanted to do a story on the horse with no tail lights.
Again, Harley Taft and the film crew from A Current Affair came to Tombstone. They asked that we meet them in town about five o’clock in the afternoon, with Jack riding his horse.
I went ahead and drove into town to let Harley know that Jack was on his way, and he would be there within twenty minutes or so.
The film crew set up along the side of Allen Street near Forth Street, and was ready to go when Jack showed up riding his horse. Harley then pulled a light bar from the back of one of their vehicles, and tied it to jack’s saddlebags, and placed a battery pack inside of the saddlebags.
They then interviewed Jack, and afterwards filmed him riding away with the tail lights burning in their entire splendor. Again, Tombstone was the laughing stock of Chochise County when this story was shown on television.
That’s not all, Ripley’s Believe it or Not had picked up on the story, and they also listed it within their records. For quite some time there was a small newspaper clipping from Ripley’s Believe it or Not hanging in the Legends Saloon with a picture of Jack riding his horse with the mounted tail light system.
The Legends Saloon has been closed for some time now, but I would imagine that the couple who owned that business still have that clipping.
An attorney from Bisbee who had a strong dislike for the hierarchy in Tombstone had taken Jack’s case, and would represent him in court when he had to show up for his horse light ticket, and only charged Jack one dollar to do so.
On their day in court, the Judge himself could not believe that such a silly case would even be brought into his court room, and he dismissed the case immediately. Once again, Tombstone was the laughing stock of Chochise County.
Several more days had passed, when I decide to drive up to Big Nose Kate’s Saloon and visit with Bill and Hal who I knew would be working that afternoon. We sat and visited for a while, and when I decided to go home and walked to the door, I couldn't believe it!
Once again, two vehicles had sandwiched me in tight with one of the vehicles, a smaller foreign pickup truck, backed up with his bumper touching my front bumper.
I then called over to Bill and Hal to come and see this and Bob, another bartender who kind of looked like Kenny Rogers, along with the owner of Kate’s also walked to the door to look over the situation.
By now, I was so mad that I did not care about anything except getting my truck out of that situation, and no more would I be Mr. Nice Guy and search for the owners of the vehicles.
Bob asked me what I was going to do, and I told him to just watch. I crossed the street and climbed into my full size Chevy truck, started it up and pushed the smaller truck in front ahead about ten feet with its tires squealing, backed up and drove off for home.
Enough was enough!
The following morning, I drove up town to Bill’s place and joined him and his wife for coffee. As we were drinking coffee and shooting the breeze, we could see Danny, one of the Marshal’s deputy’s pull up and get out of his squad car.
Danny was one of the only decent deputies in town, and I kind of liked him, and I also figured he was looking for me. Sure enough, Danny knocked on the door, and when Bill answered he asked if he could come in and talk to me.
I hollered to Danny, sure, and Bill invited him to come in. Danny told me that someone in town had reported that I had pushed another vehicle out of my way, and that he would have to write out an accident report and give me a ticket.
I began laughing, but then in a serious voice, I told him that he could not write an accident report over what had taken place.
Danny had looked at me with puzzlement for just a second or two when I told him that he would have to write an on purpose report, because this wasn't an accident. I was tired of this treatment, and tired of the Tombstone’s marshal’s department allowing it to happen, so I took care of the problem myself.
Danny then snickered a little and told me not to tell him that this was on purpose, because he did not want to testify against me in court. Wrote the ticket and politely excused himself.
When my day in court had arrived, the Judge asked if I had any explanation for why I had done this, and I explained the whole situation to him. The fellow who owned the little pickup truck was asking for seventy five dollars in damages to his bumper, and he was someone who I had never seen before.
The Judge asked me if I would be in agreement to paying the seventy five dollars, and I replied that I would. With that, the Judge dismissed the case, and as I was walking out the door, he nodded his head and winked at me. I smiled back to the Judge and walked out.
At least the Judge was an honest man, and understood my situation. He could have made it a lot worse on me if he had decided to tag me with leaving the scene of an accident.
In the long run, pushing this truck out of my way, even though it cost me seventy five dollars, was the best thing I could have done because no one in Tombstone ever blocked me in again with their vehicles.
I guess they figured that the damage to their vehicles wasn't worth playing the game any longer.
-- end Chapter Ten
For Chapter 11, of one man's fight against the City of Tombstone and the historic Tombstone City Ordinance Number 9 -- America's most famous gun-control law, please click on the link below:
The Last Gun Fight -- The Death of Ordinance Number 9 (Chapter Eleven)