January 10, 2022

#08-176: Butch Cassidy

Butch Cassidy

Note: For a long time, movie heroes were the "good guys." Then along came films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid that glorified small-time crooks into tragic heroes, so that they are household names in America even today.

Get Ready: Do you think the hero of a story must be a good person to be admired?

If you say "Butch Cassidy" to older Americans, they may reply, "...and the Sundance Kid!" A 1969 movie by that name, starring dreamboats Paul Newman and Robert Redford, brought these two small-time crooks to national and even international fame.

Let's leave Harry Longabaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid, for another time, and focus on the leader of the "Wild Bunch," also sometimes mistakenly called the "Hole in the Wall Gang." (The Wild Bunch were only some of the many outlaws that operated out of the hideout near the remote Hole-in-the-Wall pass in Wyoming; they also used a Utah hideout called the Robbers Roost.)

Robert LeRoy Parker, whose aliases included "Butch Cassidy" among several others, was born in Beaver in what was then Utah Territory in 1866. The first of 13 children of English immigrants who had converted to Mormonism before leaving the U.K., he grew up on the family ranch near Circleville. Still in his teens, he met cattle rustler Mike Cassidy. A brief stint as a butcher, along with his "mentor" Cassidy's name, provided his most common alias.

In 1880 he was arrested when he stole a pair of jeans and a pie from a closed clothing store--and left an IOU! He was acquitted by a jury. He may have been rustling horses in Colorado in 1884, but mainly worked as a cowboy.

He robbed his first bank in 1889; he and three accomplices netted $21,000, worth over half a million today. With some of the money he bought a ranch near the Hole-in-the-Wall hideout.

In 1894 he began an 18-month stretch in a Wyoming prison for stealing horses. The Wild Bunch formed on his release in 1896.

They robbed banks, trains, and payrolls. This, along with killing several lawmen in shootouts, caught the attention of the efficient Pinkerton National Detective Agency. The pressure was great, and in 1899 Cassidy approached the governor of Utah in a failed attempt to negotiate an amnesty.

In 1901, Cassidy and Longabaugh fled to Argentina via New York, along with Longabaugh's girlfriend Etta Place, where they purchased a 61-square-kilometer ranch.

In 1905 they started robbing again, though, and the Pinkertons were after them again.

Place left in 1906, tired of running. While Longabaugh accompanied her home, Cassidy took an honest job working in a mine; Longabaugh joined him upon his return. After committing another robbery in 1908, the two were surrounded in a lodging house in Bolivia, where history says they died of wounds sustained after a protracted gunfight.

Other (questionable) evidence suggests he returned to America, where he died of old age in 1937.


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butch_Cassidy

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. accomplices
  2. acquitted
  3. alias
  4. amnesty
  5. crooks
  6. dreamboats
  7. hideout
  8. payrolls
  9. rustling
  10. stint

  1. stealing (horses or cows)
  2. a fake name used by criminals
  3. official forgiveness from the government
  4. good-looking people
  5. people who help a criminal
  6. a place for criminals to escape to
  7. money used to pay employees
  8. a period of time spent doing something
  9. thieves
  10. declared not guilty

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for January 10, 2022

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. e; 2. j; 3. b; 4. c; 5. i; 6. d; 7. f; 8. g; 9. a; 10. h