Top Ten Things I Learned About Life from “Gunsmoke”

For my husband’s 58th birthday, I bought him several DVDs of the old series, Gunsmoke. Trying to be polite, I agreed to watch the first disc, and immediately fell in love with the show, and was utterly smitten by Matt Dillon, Doc Adams and Chester Good. And I’m a big fan of Kitty Russell, too.

Unlike most women in these old shows, she’s a tough broad and a fast thinker. In the third season of Gunsmoke, there’s a scene where a man accosts her. Without batting an eye, she grabs a whiskey bottle, cracks it over the bar and then menacingly waves the broken shard at his face while uttering strong language.

Kitty doesn’t mess around.

Having watched 90+ episodes of Gunsmoke, I’ve learned a few things about life and death on the Kansas Frontier.  Below are the top ten things I’ve learned.

1)  When you shoot someone, sigh deeply, offer a 12-word synopsis of their sorry life and walk away. Chester will deal with the body. Somehow.

2) When you happen upon someone who has been shot dead, sigh softly and offer a 15-word theory as to why they were shot and hypothesize on whether or not they needed killing.  Instruct Chester to get the shovel and start digging.

3) A comprehensive forensic examination of a crime scene can be accomplished by sniffing the dead man’s revolver, looking at a hoofprint, and rolling the body over to find an entry and exit point for the bullet. With these three facts, any murder can be solved.

4)  When you happen upon someone who has been shot and is bleeding out, ask the guy with a bum leg to run and get Doc Adams.

5)  If you’re preparing to shoot someone, it’s wise to fetch Doc ahead of time and have him standing by.

6)  When people ask you a question that you don’t want to answer, completely ignore their inquiry, raise your voice and ask a question that puts them on the defensive.

7) When someone has you trapped in a  shanty or shack and they tell you that they’re going to shoot you dead, tell them that even a dying man gets a last meal, and then demand to have a decent dinner put before you. After dinner, clobber them over the head with a blunt instrument and then you can take away their gun and shoot them dead.

8)  When your woman starts haranguing and harassing you, you need only say, “Well, if you’re going to go all ‘female’ on me…” and she’ll become so enraged that she forgets the original issue.

9)  If someone is merely acting stupid and does not really need killing, you can use the handle of your six-gun to knock some sense into their thick skull.

10)  The slow-thinkers among us – like Chester – may be a little frustrating at times and a little chatty, but when the going gets tough, they can be relied upon to prove their loyalty and do the right thing, even when it means risking their own life.

In the 1950s, we all knew that Matt Dillon was the man.

My two oldest brothers during their cowboy phase (1956), the year after Gunsmoke premiered.

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