Doc is the fictionalized biography of one John Henry Holliday - Georgia native, consumptive, classical scholar, talented pianist, skilled dentist and dangerous card shark. At age 27 with the OK Corral in his future, John Henry Holliday found himself in the wide-open town of of Dodge City, Kansas. Even before he headed west in what was called the Great Depression (until a greater one started in 1929) John Henry’s life was hard. Born with a cleft palate and lip, he was blessed with a mother, Alice, who decided that her son should live and prosper. Beyond that, her dreams for him were that he would possess a knowledge of Greek and Roman classics and, despite his childhood infirmity, he would speak like the gentleman he was born to be. To that end, she fed him with an eyedropper until he had gained enough weight for his uncle to operate on him, and then she set out to teach John Henry how to speak with complete clarity. Alice was successful on all fronts, but she died a few years before her boy, at age 21, developed tuberculosis and went west where the dry air might lengthen his life.
John Henry quickly discovered that there was money to be made but not from dentistry. The riches were at the faro and poker tables where John Henry, now “Doc,“ became more than proficient. Although he did practice his profession (“Where satisfaction is not given, money will be refunded.“) he was better known at the gaming tables or as the escort of Katherine Horoney AKA “Big Nose Kate” whose classical education was equal to his own.
And then there were Doc’s friends and acquaintances: Wyatt Earp, a lawman who kept the lid on Dodge when the drovers came to town; Morgan Earp, Wyatt’s brother and Doc’s close friend; and William Barkely Masterson (aka “Bat“), sheriff, saloon owner and resident whose acquaintance with the truth was exceedingly slight. In addition there were all the colorful residents of Dodge, each with a story that combined heartbreak and dumb luck, and most of them were not much concerned with the law as they knew it.
Doc started life with the deck stacked against him, but he made his own success. As he explained to Wyatt, “Bein’ born is craps. How we live is poker.”
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