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Alias Soapy Smith

Who'da Thunk It?

 

Albuquerque was no cowtown. The amenities enjoyed by the locals may seem out of place in the wild west of 1882, but in reality, the arrival of the railroad meant that innovations and popular culture were free to invade in a timely fashion.

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A telephone was installed in the marshal's office during Sam's tenure. Albuquerque had about fifty phones at the time.


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Albuquerque was populous enough to have mule-drawn streetcars carrying townsfolk and travelers between Old Town, the old Spanish city, and New Town, the rowdy Anglo business district across the river, near the railroad depot, where Sam kept the peace.


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Albuquerque had a professional baseball team, the Browns, organized by William McReight, newspaper pressman for the Morning Journal. McReight also organized the first fire company — Albuquerque got its first firetruck in 1882 — and served on the police force for many years.

At the July 4 festivities in 1882, the Browns played a local amateur team, the Opera House Nine. The Nine conceeded after a few innings with a final score of 24 to 4.

McReight claimed to have played ball back in the Midwest for Shelbyville, Louisville, Paducah and St. Louis. The Browns were supposedly named for his old team, but there is some question as to whether McReight actually played for St. Louis. He went on to help organize teams to play against in Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Socorro, Prescott, El Paso.


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A town gymnasium was built in 1882, to help keep the young men constructively occupied, and a street sprinkler kept down the dust.


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A gambler or railroad worker might well have ordered a Bud instead of the whiskey one might expect, or perhaps even an early version of the Martini. Mixed drinks were popular then, even in the mythic western saloon, and bartenders were sometimes even referred to as "mixologists." Mumm's Extra Dry was on hand for special occasions, on ice of course.


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The innovative gallows used to hang Albuquerque's first marshal, Milt Yarberry, was built from plans found in Scientific American magazine. The device used a 400-lb. lead weight to jerk the condemned upward, rather than letting him drop from a platform. "Jerked to Jesus," as the local paper put it.


 

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