“Hello Bob!”

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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

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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.