Buffalo Bill Cody: The Man behind the Legend

By Robert A. Carter | Go to book overview

12
“More Like Fiction
than Reality”

The town of North Platte, Nebraska, in which the Codys would live for the next thirty-five years, was still a frontier village in 1878. According to Nellie Snyder Yost, it was “a village of modest homes and dirt streets, with a few planks thrown across the muddiest intersections along Front Street in the spring.” There were no trees anywhere in the town, no lawns or flowers in the summer. A few homes, one of them the Codys', were some/ what more pretentious, with picket fences to keep out wandering live/ stock. There was a two-story courthouse, topped by a tall, many-windowed cupola; and a two-story schoolhouse, where Arta Cody and her younger sister Orra went to school for a few years.

As for the streets themselves, they were quite dreadful: ankle-deep in dry, choking dust in summer, with hub-deep mud in the season of melting snows and spring rains. They were so muddy in the spring that four-horse teams could scarcely pull empty wagons, while ducks and mud hens swam in the sloughs spread throughout the town. The alleys were even worse, and the town's three newspapers frequently called attention to their filthy condition, especially during the first warm days of spring. The Enterprise bluntly requested that “the gentleman who owned the dog that died near this office to be kind enough to remove same, ” and the Republican noted that “the hog in the alley back of this office has been dead for several months, ” and “the foulness of the air caused by dead animals in and around the town [makes it] smell like an 'offal' place.” The Republican went on to say that “Old hoop skirts, wornout corsets, shoes, dirty socks, old hats and underwear, tons of tin cans and old whiskey bottles, a half ton of gunny sacks, 17 dead dogs, 1 horse, 3 cows and a bull, 7 hogs and

-223-

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