There is nothing better than watching a late fifties or early sixties western on television. Maverick, Laramie, Tales of Wells Fargo, Wanted Dead or Alive, Have Gun-Will Travel, Rifleman, Death Valley Days, Lawman and others take us back to a time not really all that long ago.
Towns like Dodge City, Virginia City, Laramie, Cheyenne, Tombstone, and Deadwood were where the action most often took place. They all had saloons for drinking, banks for robbing, stables for horses, a stage coach stop, doc’s office, a jail and boot hill.
Old westerns had good guys and bad guys. The good guy always won. Of course, sometimes the good guy had to have a fist fight or gun fight before winning. He would take a beating or a bullet to save a fair maiden. He gave her his reward money so she could save her ranch from the banker. He knew he would never see her again – although he often promised to return someday. Pure pathos!
With peace reestablished and the bad guy dead or awaiting trial by the circuit judge, the good guy would ride out on his beloved horse onto a beautiful prairie at sunset. As we listened to the theme song, we were not sure where he was riding off to but were sure he would return in next week’s episode to do it all again.
Life isn’t so much that way these days. It lacks orderliness and predictability. Justice is not always served. Oh, there are still good guys and bad guys but it is often harder to know which is which. We still have guns but they aren’t just six-shooters. We don’t ride horses across the prairie preferring to fly over in a jet at 30,000 feet. Is it any wonder why old westerns remain so popular among those who grew up with them?
Sorry, but I have got to run; time to watch Gunsmoke.