Doc of poker cards, a flask half
Few gunmen in history have been as notorious as the late John “Doc” Holliday. Part of the reason Doc has enjoyed such a famed history is because of the overall descent man he was, that is when he wasn’t gambling, drinking, and gun slinging. When Doc died he might have had a handkerchief, a pocket knife, a deck of poker cards, a flask half full of whiskey, and a small essay entitled “My Friend Doc Holliday” by Wyatt Earp.
The most important item Doc would have had on him when he died was a handkerchief. Doc most likely had a handkerchief because of the severe case of tuberculosis he had, which led to his untimely demise. Doc contracted this disease while traveling the west, staying up long hours, drinking, smoking, and gambling most of the time he was awake. This handkerchief would have helped Doc wipe up any blood, and or dead lung tissue he might have coughed up on his last day of life. Doc was not only a very sick man, he was also a very cultured man. Being cultured might have provoked Doc to wear a handkerchief as a fashion accessory, because rumor has it that although Doc was a
mans man, he still liked to look as good as possible no matter where he went. This handkerchief in his eyes may have shown people his intelligent, well educated side. This educated side is a side of Doc that few people know about today. Usually when someone hears the name Doc Holliday, they think about fighting, drinking, and gambling, all of these are true of Doc, but these people had barely scratched the surface. As a young man Doc attended Valdosta institute where he became knowledgeable of the Greek, Latin, and French languages. Amazingly Doc’s favorite subject was rhetoric, his teachers claimed that Doc had a way with words unsurpassed by anyone in his class. All of these factors may have contributed to Doc having a handkerchief with him on his final day of life.
A second item which might have been found in Doc Hollidays pocket on the day he died is a small pocket knife. Doc might have had a pocket knife first of all because he was a dentist by trade. Being a dentist may seem like it has nothing to do with having a pocket knife, but being a dentist by trade helped Doc develop amazing skills with cutlery. Doc was famous mostly for his gun running, but could rarely be found without a pocket knife. Aside from his amazing ability to carve, came Doc’s need to have a concealed weapon at all times. Doc was masterful with a gun, but a man in his position needed to be packing more than just a .22, he needed a back up weapon to rely on in case of emergency. Doc, as most westerners, found the most effective backup weapon to be a small knife.
This knife could be kept in his coat pocket, his pant pocket, or in his boot, and was easy to access should Doc come across anyone looking for a fight. Doc was never one to turn down a fight, if someone wanted to play for blood, Doc was gun-ho, he would fight anyone willing to challenge him, no matter how acclaimed the other fighter was, Doc knew he could win. Doc’s background in dentistry and his ability to fight both contribute greatly to the possibility of Doc having a pocket knife on him when he died.
A third item which might have been found on Doc Holliday when he died is a deck of poker cards. When Doc wasn’t fighting, he was gambling, so it was only appropriate that Doc die with a deck of cards on him. After giving up on his work as a dentist, Doc became a professional gambler. This may seem like its an overplay, but when asked what he did, Doc replied “I am a gambler” he made a good living off of gambling for most of
his professional career. Doc would travel from city to city wining out bar after bar, until the city was dry, because Doc had single handedly won all of the money circulating in that town from gambling. The deck of cards could have been Doc’s special deck of cards, possibly he won every time he used that deck, possibly that was a trick deck, this would explain why Doc might have won every time he used it. The deck of cards might also have been in Doc’s pocket because it is said that at the time of his death, Doc had just finished playing a game of poker with his only friend Wyatt Earp. This tale is backed up most openly by Hollywood, where movies such as Tombstone show Doc’s final day as a
day of gambling with Wyatt Earp. This is most likely an accurate description, and Docs day ends as he tells Wyatt he doesn’t want to play anymore, for the first time, Doc Holliday doesn’t want to play cards. This thought makes everyone worry, and for good reason, because that was the last time Doc would ever get a chance to play.
The fourth item which might have been on Doc when he died is a flask half full of high-proof whiskey. After Doc gave up his dentistry job, he became a heavy drinker, and of course he loved to gamble. This gambling only led to more and more drinking, an a higher and higher tolerance to alcohol. This tolerance is what caused the emphasis on high-proof whiskey, rather than just saying whiskey. Doc would have most likely been drinking a whiskey which could make any normal man vomit after a few drinks, but Doc drank so much, so often he just began to get used to it, and by the time he died, it took a really powerful whiskey to even get Doc a small buzz. Or perhaps Doc wasn’t looking for a buzz, it is possible that Doc just looked at alcohol as the drink he preferred. For the
most part, there wasn’t much to drink in the old west besides whiskey, moonshine, and water which could be infected with cholera, or something worse. This lack of options is one of the may reasons that Doc might have died with a half full flask of whiskey in his coat pocket.
The final, and most interesting item which might have been found on Doc when he died was a small novel titled “My Friend Doc Holliday” by Wyatt Earp. Wyatt wrote this book for Doc, unfortunately it is said that Doc never got a chance to read it, because he passed away only shortly after Wyatt gave it to him. This in itself is a mystery because it is almost impossible to find any documentation on this heralded book, so no one can truly know what it said inside. Maybe it was a rare look into the heart of Wyatt Earp, could it possibly have told Doc all that he meant to Wyatt, most likely yes. Imagine the excitement Doc felt when he found out he had a friend who cared enough to write a book about him, this would be an honor to anyone, especially someone who truly believes that he has no friends. What an interesting concept, a book written by Wyatt Earp about
Doc Holliday, hopefully someone will come across this book, and reveal its contents to the world, or maybe it should stay hidden, for all fans of the west to wonder about from now, until the end of time.
In conclusion, Doc Holliday lived a life of drinking, gambling, and gun running, until it caught up to him in the form of an incurable disease known as tuberculosis. Doc needed a handkerchief to take care of the problems tuberculosis caused to him. It looks like for the rest of time, man will wonder what “My Friend Doc Holliday” contained, but it is comforting to know that Doc had a friend like Wyatt who would comfort him in all of his final days. Surely Wyatt was paid for it in the form of eternal peace, because only god knows how much Doc earned a friend like Wyatt Earp.
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