The great thing about the days before video cameras and fast assimilation of information is that you could make your personal history be anything you wanted it to be, which was exactly what Calamity Jane, Wild West legend, did. Much of Jane Canary’s life as she tells it is unfounded or uncorroborated, including her romance with Wild Bill Hickok. Jane had a tremendous crush on Wild Bill and after his death made claims that he was the father of her daughter Jane, whom she had given for adoption to Mr. and Mrs. Jim O’Neill with only a couple problems. There was never any record of a baby or of an adoption, or of the O’Neills. She was a true frontier woman, however, able to shoot and hunt, and basically care for her five siblings when they were left orphaned at the death of their parents. She did everything she could to put food in their mouths, working as a dish washer, dance hall girl, a cook, a waitress, an ox team driver, a nurse and a prostitute. She claimed her nickname, Calamity Jane, came from her single handedly saving Captain Egan during a cavalry battle after which he gave her the name. There was never a record of his rescue, or the battle she claimed to be fighting in, or any record of Jane ever fighting in a battle alongside the cavalry at all. It was believed by most that her warning to men that they would come up against “calamity” if they messed with her is what actually gave her the title. Despite her penchant for exaggeration, or even outright lying, Jane was popular in western culture. Though illiterate and “imaginative” she was pretty, warm hearted and generous to a fault, and one of the west’s most industrious, hard-working characters on record.
There is something about horses and kids that make for a great marriage. It is like the story of the gorilla who loved the kitten, the mammoth being, meekly deferring to the tiny one, the one that could be swept away with one aggressive snort. Yet they stand together, nose to nose, one in deference to the other, because the horse, in its four legged splendor seems to understand that this smaller than average two legged creature is precious in some way, a treasure of some kind, and their keeping is a tremendous responsibility. It is the gentle and wise heart of the horse and innocent nature of the child that makes the mixture ideal, even magical. See them together and you will feel a smile spread across your lips, a lift of happiness in your step. Their gift is the perfect combination of generosity and delight and they are meant to be together.