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July 4th. 1879 the first Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe train pulled into Las Vegas, New Mexico Territory. The railroad had made it’s entry into a lawless land. The town band was playing and hundreds of people turned out to greet the passengers. The first man to step from the second passenger car was James P Retzer, Dentist and Surgeon. On his right hip was a tied down new double action Colt 44.40, called the Frontier Colt. People paid him little mind as he got his bags and walked toward the Gomez Hotel. Just another gunfighter coming into their town.

James had traveled up and down the Mississippi River on river boats doctoring the ill and working on bad teeth. One day well over a year ago, an elderly gunfighter by the name of Dobie Givens sat in the chair as James removed a bad tooth. “Son, I see you wear no gun.”

“Why would I wear a gun?”

“What would you do if I got up from here and told you I wadn’t gonna pay?”

“I, I, well I don’t know as it has happened many times. Some I understood because they couldn’t afford it, but others were just ornery and didn’t pay.”

“Can I tell you something and not hurt yore feelings?”

“I guess so, what?”

“Yer dumb Boy, an I mean right down dumb. Work yore tail off then anybody that don’t want’a pay, don’t.”

“But what can I do?”

“Get off this boat at the next stop and let me teach you how to use a gun. I’ll teach you how to be among the best and stay alive. When I say yer good enough, go west where people need a good dentist and surgeon. They’ll be proud to pay for your service.”



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