It had begun as a border dispute. Although there were now boundaries and fences, there were still those who longed for free-ranging. Some even went so far as to ignore such laws, opting instead to venture into others' territories. This is the story of one such event. The gunfight at Oak will go down in the lore of the Old East, right up there with the Great Molasses Flood.
~ Collecting returnable bottles and cans has been a source of income for some people for several years. Where once it was the lot of the winos or the homeless to earn some pocket money, it has become the only revenue to many others. Indeed, entire families can be seen patrolling the streets on the mornings of trash collection.
~ Carefully planned routes in each city ward are followed rigidly. Their fleet of shopping carts were set into motion at 4:30 AM. By the time many of us are just rising, the carts are laden with three or four lawn bags bloated with discarded bottles and cans. Three such bags with only cans would yield fifty to sixty dollars at the redemption center.
~ But their idyllic business was threatened about two or three months ago when a rival faction arrived in town. The group, headed by a man I'll call Wong Clanton, wasted no time before moving in on the homesteaders. The patriarch of the other "family," Wight Earp had known this day would come, but insisted that there would be no violence. He would meet with Clanton and begin peaceful negotiations.
~ Although Wong Clanton had shook hands with Wight, he had no intentions of honoring any agreements. That was all too evident three days later when his shopping cart broadsided the one manned by Wight. The ensuing argument ended abruptly when Clanton pulled out a gun and pointed it at Earp's head. Without hesitation, Clanton pulled the trigger!
~ There was no loud retort as the pistol was discharged, but a stream of liquid, however, showered into Earp's face. Clanton had pulled out all the stops, arming himself with a water gun! Earp never confirmed what liquid may have been in the gun, but it was reported that he immediately went home to clan up.
~ The stage was set, the lines had been drawn! It was almost certain that the feud between the Earps and the Clantons would not end there. A showdown was brewing, kindled by by the gun play that day. For several days nothing of any consequence. There had been no sightings of the Clanton's. There had been no incursions into Wight Earp's turf.
~ A week later all that would change. Reports reached the Earp's that several of the Clantons had gathered at the corner of Main St. Ad Oak. This was well within Wight's borders, and he was determined to defend his territory against the interlopers.
~ Except for maybe a supermarket, never had so many shopping carts been seen gathered in one place. The lawn bags were empty, neatly folded on the carts' child seats. No bottles or cans had been collected. Business as usual had been put on hold for the business at hand.
~ Wong Clanton and four of his minions all bore the same type of gun that been used on Earp several days earlier. Those standing beside Earp had their weapons hidden beneath long trench coats, which according to witnesses were London Fogs. It is unclear who actually opened fire first, but in mere minutes hundreds of shots were spraying.
~ Too late, Clanton realized that Earp and his men had shown up loaded for bear. They had foregone pistols, packing instead the high-powered Super Soakers. The skirmish was over. Amid the carnage, it was apparent that Earp had successfully defeated Clanton.
~ The gunfight at Oak, as the battle would become known, will go down in the annals of history. It is the perfect example of good winning over evil, and the oppressed overcoming the oppressor. Yes, it was Wight over Wong!