“Goodbye, Bob!” (2016)

By | Billy The Kid, Cowboys, Croquet, New Mexico | No Comments


Quite a long time between shirts from 1998 until 2016.  Tragically, our dearly beloved Matthew Borowski succumbed to cancer in 2002, leaving bereft everyone who had had the good fortune to know him.  His cheerful disposition, generosity and can-do spirit are an inspiration for all of us. As often is the case, his charismatic nature was the glue that brought and kept people together.  Of course, life endures and the survivors mourn and must carry on, even though we can never forget.  On a trivial note, in the intervening years I took up the game of competitive croquet. In 2015 I learned that a controversial photograph had surfaced, purporting to show the Kid and other Regulators in the midst of a croquet match.  True or not, the unlikely pastime seemed to me an apt subject for a new shirt.  Around the same time, during Matt and Becky’s daughter Alena’s wedding, our fellow Pageant-goer of years past, Keith Burns,  suggested a grand reunion at the 2016 Pageant.  Many of us managed to attend, enjoy Becky’s hospitality and bask in the glow of old friendships.

The models for Olinger and the Kid are respectively Rick and Charles Cooper, fellow members of the Chicago Croquet Club.  The conceit is: “The historical record is incomplete, but a scrawled entry in the Tunstall-McSween ledger book indicates that the Kid had a nice 4-ball break going when a continuation shot took a bad hop at a fire-ant hill and subsequently ricocheted off a tent-peg at Colonel Dudley’s encampment, going out of bounds. Ollinger was able to score a Hail-Mary hoop shoot and proceeded to destroy the Kid’s position. Bad luck for the Kid’s faction continued as the Murphy-Dolan mob burned down the McSween home. McSween and 4 others were killed, though a number of others, including the Kid, escaped under the cover of darkness.”  This nonsense probably only makes sense to someone like me, who knows a lot about croquet and the Lincoln County War.

The Kid Behind Bars (1998)

By | Billy The Kid, Cowboys, New Mexico, portraits | No Comments


This is quite a sinister-looking Kid and admittedly the portrayal is not boyish enough.  My neighbor Cliff Brady posed for this and we must have used broom handles or something for the bars.  Dated 1998, it was the last shirt I did until this year, although Matt and Becky re-printed some of the earlier efforts from time to time to sell at Lincolnworks.

The Shoot-out at Blazer’s Mill (1996)

By | Billy The Kid, Cowboys, New Mexico, Uncategorized | No Comments


From 1996, this shirt features choice dialog from the Pageant and crowd-favorite Buckshot Roberts, who was portrayed for many years by local Dan Storm.  The role of Buckshot and other cast members are largely filled by residents of Lincoln County and neighboring counties, making it a true folk pageant and probably the oldest continually performed event of its type in the nation. The “actors” perform in pantomime and the dialog is spoken by other locals reading from the script over the PA. The gunfire (with blanks, of course) is provided by the actors on stage.  During the actual shoot-out, the Murphy-Dolan leaning Roberts single-handedly held off a group of thirteen Regulators, including the Kid.  Regulator leader Dick Brewer was shot between the eyes by the mortally wounded and defiant Buckshot.


Billy the Kid meets Governor Lew Wallace

By | Billy The Kid, Cowboys, New Mexico | No Comments


The famous meeting between the outlaw and the author of “Ben-Hur” took place at Squire Wilson’s house, which no longer stands.  Becky at one time owned the property and she re-habbed Wilson’s office into a charming home.  On the back of the shirt, produced in 1993, is a reproduction of one of Bonney’s several letters to Wallace, confirming a statement we saw on a competing Billy the Kid t-shirt during the 2016 Pageant: “He had very good handwriting”


This from Wikipedia:

Wallace arrived in Santa Fe, on September 29, 1878, to begin his service as governor of the New Mexico Territory during a time of lawless violence and political corruption.[98] Wallace was involved in efforts to resolve New Mexico’s Lincoln County War, a contentious and violent disagreement among the county’s residents, and tried to end a series of Apache raids on territorial settlers.[99] In 1880, while living at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, Wallace also completed the manuscript for Ben Hur.[100]

On March 1, 1879, after previous efforts to restore order in Lincoln County had failed, Wallace ordered the arrest of those responsible for local killings.[101] One of the outlaws was William Henry McCarty, Jr. (alias William H. Bonney), better known as Billy the Kid.[102] On March 17, 1879, Wallace secretly met with the Kid, who had witnessed the murder of a Lincoln County lawyer named Chapman. Wallace wanted the Kid to testify in the trial of Chapman’s accused murderers, but the Kid had killed others and wanted Wallace’s protection from the outlaw gang and amnesty for his crimes. During their meeting, the pair arranged for the Kid to become an informant in exchange for a full pardon of his previous crimes. Wallace supposedly assured the Kid that he would be “scot free with a pardon in your pocket for all your misdeeds.”[103] On March 20, the Kid agreed to testify against others involved in Chapman’s murder. Wallace arranged for the Kid’s arrest and detention in a local jail to assure his safety.[104] After the Kid testified in court on April 14, the local district attorney revoked Wallace’s bargain and refused to set the outlaw free.[1] The Kid escaped from jail and returned to his criminal ways, which included killing additional men. The Kid was shot and killed on July 14, 1881 by Sheriff Pat Garrett, who had been appointed by local ranching interests who had tired of his rustling their herds. In the meantime, Wallace had resigned from his duties as territorial governor on March 9, 1881, and was waiting for a new political appointment.[105]

On December 31, 2010, on his last day in office, then-Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico declined a pardon request from supporters of the Kid, citing a “lack of conclusiveness and the historical ambiguity” over Wallace’s promise of amnesty. Descendants of Wallace and Garrett were among those who opposed the pardon.[106]



“Hello Bob!”

By | Billy The Kid, Cowboys, Gullotto, New Mexico | No Comments


This shirt was printed by Matt and/or Becky sometime in the 90’s, I think.  The image is originally a linoleum cut from about 1979 or 1980, of which I had printed a small run.  The Lincolnians probably used one of the prints for the shirt and added the text– it looks like Prestype!  I don’t think I even have one of these shirts.  The model for Billy is Mike Gullotto, my shirt-producing partner from ’79 and ’80.  He borrowed from his Uncle John a shotgun or gunshot or whatever Bob Olinger called that new-fangled rifle he was always yammering about when he wasn’t stuffing tortillas and beans in his yap.  We set up the “shoot” on the balcony of a La Grange home being rehabbed by my occasional employer, the artist John Leben.  In the Pageant the Kid cuts loose with both barrels from the stage courthouse balcony.  A hundred yards away, at the actual courthouse, is a small stone marking where Olinger was shot down.  The Kid couldn’t have made that shot from the actual balcony, but rather from an east window overlooking the Most Dangerous Street in America, which Olinger crossed from the Wortley Hotel, running towards the sound of pistol shots and his imminent doom.  Olinger had taunted the condemned Kid for weeks, urging him to make a break for it.  He longed to unload both barrels on the Kid if he dared.  No doubt the ruthless Bonney relished visiting vengeance on his tormentor with the man’s own weapon.

1981 Billy the Kid t-shirt

By | Billy The Kid, Cowboys, Gullotto, New Mexico | No Comments


Pat Garrett and his posse tracked the Kid to Fort Sumner.  Garrett entered Pete Maxwell’s bedroom to question him about the Kid’s whereabouts.  Meanwhile, the Kid had a hankering for a slice of beef from the carcass hanging on Pete’s porch.  In his stocking feet, butcher knife in hand, he walked over to Pete’s.  He spied a couple of strangers outside and darted in to Pete’s bedroom.  The Kid sensed another person in the room and shouted out “Quien es? Quien es? (Who is it?).  Pete whispered to Garrett, “It’s him-” and Garrett fired point-blank, killing the Kid instantly.

This was the first shirt departing from the only known authentic picture of the Kid.  Since it was the centennial of the event which cemented the Kid’s place in Wild West lore, it was a natural.  I modeled as the Kid and my buddy Mike Gubbins, who had a completely authentic Garrett-type mustache, posed as the sheriff.  In 2010 I dragged my wife far off the beaten path to visit Fort Sumner, a town so remote that when the railroad came through, the town fathers moved the settlement 10 miles to be along the tracks.  The Kid and his comrades Tom O’Folliard and Charlies Bowdre are buried in a tiny cemetery, enclosed in an iron cage to discourage tombstone thieves.