Friday, July 15, 2016
You don't impose on Billy the Kid.
Billy was the son of Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine, born in Manhattan in 1859. His mother moved Billy and his brother to the New Mexico territory to deal with her tuberculosis. Billy's stepfather was evidently a real prick.
Billy's birth name was William Henry McCarty Jr. but he also was known as William H. Bonney and Henry Antrim in his short life.
Billy said that he killed twenty one people, history corroborates at least six, his obit says nineteen. Moot after a certain point, I guess, he was one bad hombre. Died at twenty one.
He started off his life as a hotel waiter in Silver City, then apprenticed to a cruel blacksmith and finally got hooked up in the middle of a range war between cattlemen.
The article linked to his original obit in the times from July 31, 1881. Interesting line in the obit: The blacksmith, who was inclined to drunkenness, and a bully by nature, undertook to impose upon Billy. The kid shot him through the heart.
I looked up the phrase "impose upon" wondering if it was a reference to a sexual impropriety but could not find a supporting definition. Not sure. But that may have been the archaic meaning of the term.
I read once that 75% of the violent criminals in California jails had been sexually molested in their youth. Messes with a kid's head.
Was that what precipitated Billy the Kid's killing rampage? A gross imposition?
I first visited the Billy the Kid Bar in Mesilla over fifty years ago. Now it's a gift shop. One of my favorite towns in New Mexico, Mesilla. Pretty much the same as it ever was.