It has become an icon in American history for a variety of reasons. I remember when Forrest Gump first came out, in fact, I remember the hype before it came out. It seemed foregone conclusion that Tom Hanks would win the best actor for his role as Forrest Gump before the movie hit the silver screen. It would be hard to object to that hype as, in my very humble opinion, he did a phenomenal job of playing the title character.
The images and words that the movie bring to mind are quick and easy to recall: “Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.” “Run, Forrest, run!” Bubba Gump restaurants found their inspiration in the relationship between Forrest and his friend and fellow soldier in the movie in Vietnam, Bubba.
Jenny was the name of the little girl that Forrest grew up loving, finally married, and lost to illness. Played by Robin Wright, she was the only person that ever really seemed to understand Forrest. And so, perhaps it should not be surprising that when Forrest bought a “shrimpin’ boat”, it was cristened Jenny in her honor.
I am on a family vacation in the Orlando area. Last night, my youngest son and I took his little 5 year old daughter (it was her birthday!) to Disney Downtown. It was probably close to seven or so by the time we got there and as we walked into the area, on the right hand side as the Jenny, anchored in a back area of the property. Being a Forrest Gump fan, I couldn’t help but take a picture.
Now the boat was never very pretty to start with, and it shows a need for a lot of work. The paint is cracked and peeling, there is plastic wrapped about the hull to help keep the water out (attached with strips visible in the picture), but there she was. And to my mind, she was as beautiful as ever. I think Forrest would agree with me.
Two days earlier, a stagecoach had been robbed and the Tombstone sheriff formed a posse that included Morgan and Wyatt Earp to find the culprits. On the basis of a boot print found in the dust, the posse arrested Frank Stillwell, a sometimes deputy of the Cochise County Sheriff, John Behan. Stillwell’s actual guilt or innocence aside, two of the leading Cochise County ranching families, the Clantons and McLaurys, saw the arrest as a deliberate attack by the Earps on their continued control of the county.
Many country-living ranch families like the Clantons and McLaurys deeply resented the city folks who increasingly dominated law and politics in Tombstone–especially the ambitious Earp brothers: Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil and James. The ranch families maintained tenuous control over the wide-open country surrounding Tombstone, thanks in large measure to the sympathetic support of Cochise County Sheriff Behan. Sheriff Behan detested the Earps–a sentiment that was entirely mutual–and made a point of ignoring their well-founded complaints that the Clantons and McLaurys were stealing cattle and horses. Likewise, while the Earps often acted as law officers and posse members, Behan and the ranchers knew the brothers were not above ignoring the law when it came to their own questionable dealings in the Tombstone gambling and saloon business. So when the Tombstone sheriff and the Earps arrested one of Behan’s own deputies for the stagecoach robbery, the Clanton and McLaurys claimed they were being unfairly harassed and warned the Earps that they would retaliate.
Both sides publicly accused the other of corruption, leading the governor of Arizona Territory to report later that month, “Many of the very best law-abiding and peace-loving citizens [of Tombstone] have no confidence in the willingness of the civil officers to pursue and bring to justice that element of out-lawry so largely disturbing the sense of security…[The opinion] is quite prevalent that the civil officers are quite largely in league with the leaders of this disturbing and dangerous element.”
The governor was right, and the situation would not be resolved without violence. The Earp brothers and Clanton-McLaury families were headed for a showdown at the O.K. Corral in October.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: St. Bernard of Menthon, who built way stations for tired medieval travelers in the Alps, is the patron saint of mountain climbers. The dog breed was also named for St. Bernard.