F.A.Q.

 

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Here is a list of frequently asked questions concerning Billy the Kid.

For more quick information on Billy the Kid, my other web pages Fact vs. Myth , Did you know...? and Miscellaneous may also interest you.
 

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1) Who were Billy the Kidís parents? What was his real last name - Bonney or McCarty? What was his birth date?

2) How did William H. Bonney get the title of "Billy the Kid?"

3) My last name is Bonney, so I think I may be related to Billy the Kid, so how can I trace my family roots to him? OR  Iím related to Billy the Kid and have never-before-told info on him, but how can I convince historians?

4) Where can I buy pictures or posters of Billy the Kid? Where can I buy Billy the Kid memorabilia?

5) In the famous photograph of Billy the Kid, what kind of firearms is he posing with?

6) To put an end to the controversy of Billy the Kid living to be an old man, why not exhume Billy the Kidís grave (or even his motherís grave) for DNA testing?

7) Are the movies Young Guns and Young Guns II accurate on the history of Billy the Kid?

8) Iím taking a trip to New Mexico, any Billy the Kid tourist attractions you can recommend?

9) Were Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett friends? Did Garrett ride with Billy the Kid?

10) Is this photo of Pat Garrett's posse and their prisoner, Billy the Kid, authentic?
(includes photo)

11) Was Billy the Kid ever married? Did he have any children?

12) Is Paulita Maxwell's son, Telesfor Jaramillo, the son of Billy the Kid? Who was Telesfor Jaramillo?
(includes photos)

13) Whatís the Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang Organization and how can I become a member?

14) What's the Billy the Kid Historic Preservation Society and how can I become a member?

15) Is Pat Garrettís The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid a good book to read for those just learning about Billy the Kid?

16) I want to learn more about Billy the Kid, where should I start?

17) My youngster is doing a report on Billy the Kid, any kid-friendly books or movies you can recommend?

18) If Billy the Kid never existed would the Lincoln County War have turned out any differently?

19) What kind of wounds or injures did Billy the Kid have? Was he ever shot during his gunfights?

20) Other than the famous tintype of Billy the Kid posing with his rifle, are there any other photographs or images of Billy the Kid?

21) Is that Billy the Kid's original grave and/or headstone in Fort Sumner? Is it true someone snuck into the cemetery and chiseled the word "Pals" on the headstone?
(includes photo)

22) What's all this talk about a posthumous pardon for Billy the Kid? Was Billy the Kid pardon by Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico?

 

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Question:
Who were Billy the Kidís parents? What was his real last name - Bonney or McCarty? What was his birth date?

Answer: The true answers concerning Billy the Kidís birth and lineage has yet to be known; historians, biographers and genealogist have been pulling their hair out trying to figure it out for years. Researchers have traveled the globe (England, Ireland, Scotland, and throughout the states), they have researched birth and death records, marriage certificates, baptismal records, hospital records, passenger arrival list, census records, and more, but yet no document has surfaced to shed some light on who Billy the Kid's parents were, and where and what day he was born. All we know is he had a mother named Catherine (maiden name unknown) and a younger brother named Joseph (middle and last name unknown), and absolutely nothing is known of his biological father. Itís not known whether both boys were fathered by the same man, nor is it known whether Catherine was married to their father (or fathers). So in that case itís not known whether McCarty or Bonney is her married name, or maybe both were. All we know is she first turns up in the pages of history as a single woman named Catherine McCarty, with two sons. As for Billy the Kidís birth date, itís estimated he was born anywhere around 1860-62, possibly in New York, Indiana, or maybe even Ireland or England. We simply donít know. The life of Billy the Kid before the year 1870 is an utmost mystery.  -Menu
 

Question: How did William H. Bonney get the title of "Billy the Kid?"

Answer: The title of "Billy the Kid" was bestowed on William H. Bonney alias Kid, by an editor and publisher of the Las Vegas Gazette named of J.H. Koogler. On December 3, 1880,  William Bonney is mentioned for the first time as "Billy the Kid" in Koogler's article: "There's a powerful gang of outlaws harassing the stockmen of the Pecos and Panhandle country, and terrorizing the people of Fort Sumner and vicinity. The gang includes forty or fifty men, all hard characters, the offscourings of society, fugitives from justice, and desperadoes by profession....the gang is under the leadership of 'Billy the Kid,' a desperate cuss, who is eligible for the post of captain of any crowd, no matter how mean or lawless." Not only did Koogler continue to exaggerate the Kid's outlaw activities and build up a badman reputation that he didn't deserve, but Koogler may have been the one responsible for the name Billy the Kid would be so famously known as. -Menu


Question: My last name is Bonney/McCarty, so I think I may be related to Billy the Kid, so how can I trace my family roots to him? OR  Iím related to Billy the Kid and have never-before-told info on him, but how can I convince historians?

Answer: Well, since experience historians and genealogist canít pinpoint Billy the Kidís exact linage and roots and who his parents really were, his real birth name and birth date and etc, I doubt that youíll be able to. As I just stated above, Billy the Kidís family tree is an utter mystery and if you are going to tackle the matter I sincerely wish you luck (and I don't mean that sarcastically). The names McCarty, Bonney, and Antrim are common Irish names and which is why countless people are coming forward and saying they are related to the famous outlaw, but it takes more than just having the same last name or because family rumors say you have ties to Billy the Kid. Unless you can prove a direct line and relation to Billy the Kid by official documents or hard evidence that is linked to what is already historical fact, historians and researchers arenít going to bother with your claim. For instance, itís a historical fact that Billy the Kid was in Lincoln County, NM in April of 1878 and there is hard evidence to back this up, so if your claim has him in Michigan at that time and having a fling with your great-grandmother I highly doubt historians will be convinced and willing to re-write history based on your claim. I donít mean to tweak the nose of those who truly believe they are related to Billy the Kid, but the truth of the matter is if you canít prove it with solid evidence your claim isnít worth anything. -Menu


Question:
Where can I buy pictures or posters of Billy the Kid? Where can I buy Billy the Kid memorabilia?

Answer: My advice would be the Billy the Kid gift shops in New Mexico. You can try contacting the Visitors Center in Historic Lincoln, which has a gift shop at (505) 653-4025 or email:  historiclincoln@pvtnetworks.net  Or try the Billy the Kid Museum in Fort Sumner:  (505) 355-2380 or email: btkmuseum@plateautel.net. Thereís also a gift shop at the Old Fort Sumner Museum: (505) 355-2942.  You can also find some Billy the Kid memorabilia on Ebay, thereís always a fair amount of toys, movies, comic books, etc., found there. -Menu


Question: In the famous photograph of Billy the Kid, what kind of firearms is he posing with?

Answer: The rifle is an 1873 Winchester and as for the revolver, itís hard to tell since itís hidden out of view in the holster, some researchers think itís a single action Colt .44. -Menu

 
Question: To put an end to the controversy of Billy the Kid living to be an old man, why not exhume Billy the Kidís grave (or even his motherís grave) for DNA testing?

Answer: Unfortunately, DNA testing cannot be done since Billy the Kid's remains were washed away in the Pecos River flood in September of 1904 and the grave was left unmarked for years until a new headstone was placed, and the chances of it being placed in the precise location of Billy the Kid's grave is slim to none. As for Catherine Antrim's grave, that site too is in question since it was moved from its original spot in 1882, and it's not known whether her grave was actually exhumed and relocated to the present day grave site or just the grave marker was replaced. So it would be impossible to do a DNA test (or at least an accurate one) on two unreliable and "iffy" grave sites. So for obvious reasons, to match DNA from the wrong sources can really mess things up and should not be attempted. For more on this, see my web page The Controversy on the Billy the Kid DNA Investigation.  -Menu


Question:
Are the movies Young Guns and Young Guns II accurate on the history of Billy the Kid?

Answer: Although the movies are the most popular on Billy the Kid and quite entertaining, just like all the rest, they are not historically accurate. The real life Billy the Kid was not like the Kid portrayed by Emilio Estevez in the movies. To really learn the difference between history and these two films, visit my History vs. Young Guns web page. -Menu

 
Question:
Iím taking a trip to New Mexico, any Billy the Kid tourist attractions you can recommend?

Answer: From my own Billy the Kid road trip experience, my favorite place was Historic Lincoln, also know as Old Town Lincoln, about 40 miles northeast of  Ruidoso. This historical town not only consists of the original buildings of Billy the Kidís day, but also has a visitor's center which has a museum and gift shop, and annual events (for instance, on the first weekend of August thereís a Billy the Kid pageant). For more info call the Lincoln State Monument at: 505-653-4372.  As for places to stay in Lincoln there is a restaurant & hotel right in town called the Wortley Pat Garrett Hotel and only a stone's thrown away there are local historical bed and breakfasts, such as Casa de Patron B&B Inn which was voted the "Best B&B in the West" by True West magazine and there's Ellis Store Country Inn (1-800-653-6460 or 505-653-4609). The surrounding area of Lincoln has a lot of historical sites to see relating to Billy the Kid, and one way to see it is on the Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway, which will take you on a loop through Billy the Kid country. Also nearby there is White Oaks (which is pretty much a ghost town) and San Patricio, which Billy the Kid frequently visited almost as much or more than Lincoln. Also in the area, there's Ruidoso where the Hubbard Museum is located (the museum is also called the Museum of the Horse, but has a lot on the Old West, Native American and Southwest history). If you like to gamble, you canít miss the famous Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and the Billy the Kid Casino. If you have an interest in Billy the Kid and the Old West, thereís plenty of stuff to do and see in the beautiful Ruidoso and Lincoln area and I donít think youíll be disappointed.

Then of course, there is Fort Sumner (about 84 miles north of Roswell) where Billy the Kid's grave is located. It's a bit of a long drive through the empty plains, but as a Billy the Kid fan you can't visit New Mexico without going to Fort Sumner at least once. Unlike Lincoln, don't expect Fort Sumner to be anything like the village Billy the Kid knew in his day, Old Fort Sumner is long gone and nothing remains of it. The present day Fort Sumner is now a small quiet community which host two museums, the Billy the Kid Museum in town on the main street and the Old Fort Sumner Monument on Billy the Kid Road just east of town where Old Fort Sumner use to be. Don't worry the town is too small to miss either museum. Billy the Kid's grave is located behind the Old Fort Sumner Museum near the Monument on Billy the Kid Road; just follow the sidewalk path from the parking lot and it will lead you right to it. -Menu


Question:
Were Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett friends? Did Garrett ride with Billy the Kid?

Answer: They knew each other and were probably more than just merry acquaintances, but they werenít ďpalsĒ or ďgang members.Ē As for the story that Garrett and Billy the Kid concocted a plan to fake the Kid's death, it's not true. Any friendly relationship they had would've gone bad since Garrett was responsible for the deaths of Billy the Kid's closest friends, Tom O'Folliard and Charlie Bowdre. So I just can't believe that the revengeful Kid would just let that go. Let's not forget that the Kid killed two of Garrett's deputies, James Bell and Bob Olinger, during his daring escape from Lincoln. So again, I just can't believe Garrett would let that go either. By the time of July 14, 1881 there was some bad blood between these two. -Menu


Question: Is this photo of Pat Garrett's posse and their prisoner, Billy the Kid, authentic?


??Pat Garrett (far left) & Billy the Kid (far right)??

Answer: It is said this photo was taken just outside of Las Vegas on December 26, 1880, when Garrett was bringing his prisoners in after capturing the Kid and his gang at Stinking Springs. Well, there's a few things wrong I see with this photo that question it's authenticity and why I don't believe it's legitimate:

1)  Billy the Kid is too husky and round face in this picture.
2)  Where is the Kidís wide brim sombrero hat he was known to be wearing at this time?
3)  As history says, the Kid and the others were brought into Vegas by wagon Ėnot horseback.
4)  Where are the other posse men and prisoners? Dave Rudabaugh was considered to be just as big of a catch as Billy the Kid, why isnít he in the photo? Also, there was no photographer in the area to take this photo in the first place (there were only 3 or 4 in all of New Mexico, and I think the nearest one was in Albuquerque).
5)  Billy the Kid at the time of capture had his famous racing bay mare with him, not a gray horse.
6)  Pat Garrett, who was 6í4íí and ALL legs, is too short in this photo. His legs would be dangling much longer pass the horseís belly then it is in the photo.
7)  During the pursuit there was a snow storm and the snow on the ground was thick, and after the capture of the outlaws, the posse and their prisoners made the miserable trip through the cold and snow to Las Vegas, but yet, by the looks of this photo, the snow is melting and the ground is exposed. Where's is all the snow due to the bad weather at that time?
8)  I question the age of the photo, because at least two of the horses heads are moving (looking away) and are not blurry. Due to long exposure in photography of that time, subjects had to hold very still to avoid a blurry image. So I believe the photo was taken years after when photography was improved and moving subjects arenít blurred.
9)  The provenance on this photo is too vague and there's no real proof that this photo is even of a posse and a prisoner, let alone Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.
-Menu


Question:
Was Billy the Kid ever married? Did he have any children?

Answer: Billy the Kid never married, he didnít get the chance since he was shot down so early in life. The Kid was indeed a ladyís man and ďfooled around,Ē so itís quite possible he fathered at least one child. Rumors and hearsay have given the names of several young ladies who may or may not be mothers of Billy the Kidís child or children (if he even had any). The most common of those names are Paulita Maxwell, Celsa Gutierrez, Abrana Garcia and Nasaria Yerby. One story goes that the Kid fathering two or three girls from different mothers, but none lived to adulthood. Another rumor has Paulita Maxwell bearing Billy the Kid's son, but census records say he was born a few years after the Kid's death. So with no proof or evidence, other than pure gossip and speculation, it's impossible to know if the Kid truly fathered a child. -Menu


Question:
Is Paulita Maxwell's son, Telesfor Jaramillo, the son of Billy the Kid? Who was Telesfor Jaramillo?


Telesfor Jaramillo?


Paulita & Jose Jaramillo (Husband)

 Images from the biography The West of Billy the Kid, by Frederick Nolan

Answer: No, the above photograph is not the son of Billy the Kid. This photo was falsely identified as being Telesfor Jaramillo, and not only is that not Telesfor Jaramillo, but Telesfor could not have been the Kid's son since he was born in 1893 -thirteen years after Billy the Kid's death. This photo and story of Telesfor being the possible son of Billy the Kid was first presented in Fred Nolan's book "The West of Billy the Kid." Of course Mr. Nolan is a very respected Billy the Kid historian, so it's hard to doubt his finding, but Fred Nolan retracted this and cleared the misunderstanding:

Fred Nolan stated, "
The photograph in my book, which I was told by genealogist Pauline Jaramillo in the late 1980s was Telesfor Jaramillo, has now been confirmed by Bob McCubbin, to be William "Julian" Maxwell, the half-Cheyenne boy adopted by the family who died of smallpox in 1877 at age 20 (the story is in Henry Hoyt's FRONTIER DOCTOR)." Mr. Nolan also commented, "The article "The Private Life of Billy the Kid" appeared in the July 2000 issue of TRUE WEST. They (not I) asked on the cover featuring the "Telesfor" photo "Is this Billy the Kid's son?" whereas in the body text inside the magazine I had stated quite clearly that Telesfor was not born until 1893 which disqualified him as a candidate even before we learned it wasn't a photo of him anyway." So there we have it, from Mr. Nolan himself, that this photo is not the son of Billy the Kid, nor is it even Telesfor, who again, is not the illegitimate son Billy the Kid.

 
Question:
Whatís the Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang Organization and how can I become a member?

Answer: The Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang is a non-profit organization that promotes the history of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett. Members will receive an annual newsletter and issue of the Outlaw Gazette, which is chalked full of articles written by members including well-known historians such as Fred Nolan, Leon Metz and Bob Boze Bell. As a member youíll find out the latest news, information, and meet other people with the same interest at the annual get-together. If you would like to learn more visit the BTKOG website. -Menu
 

Question: What's the Billy the Kid Historic Preservation Society and how can I become a member?

Answer: The goal of the former organization was to preserve and promote Billy the Kid history. Originally, the BTKHPS had formed a coalition to actively oppose the exhumation of Billy the Kid and his mother for the controversial DNA testing. The members consist of people around the globe and from all walks of life (from high school students to doctors and lawyers). Although, short-lived the coalition accomplished what they set out to do. Unfortunately, today the organization is non-existence.  -Menu


Question:
Is Pat Garrettís The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid a good book to read for those just learning about Billy the Kid?

Answer: As they say the first impression is always the most critical and if one is not familiar with Billy the Kid and read Garrettís book first, their impression of the Kid would be that of a temperamental homicidal maniac. The legend of Billy the Kid was born out of Garrettís book and the legend is nothing like the real Billy the Kid. The book was written to win public opinion in Garrettís favor, so Garrett twisted the truth or just out-and-out lied to invent a wicked young man, then at the end of the book when Garrett kills the terrorist he had created readers would be impressed --the bigger the villain, the bigger the hero, right? So I would advise a person not to read Garrettís book or even Walter Noble Burns The Sage of Billy the Kid, until they learned the facts first. Itís frustrating enough trying to learn the facts without trying to root out the myths at the same time. There is one exception, if you do want to read Garrett's book, read the edition with commentary footnotes by notable Billy the Kid biographer, Frederick Nolan. -Menu
 

Question: I want to learn more about Billy the Kid, where should I start?

Answer:  Well, you've come to the right place, but other than my website, I would recommend reading Frederick Nolan's The West of Billy the Kid and/or Bob Boze Bell's The Illustrated Life and Times of Billy the Kid. If you're not a fan of reading, there is a 60 minute audio book on the life of Billy the Kid from CRT company, Billy the Kid, narrated by Donnie Blanz and scripted by Jimmy Gray (I'm sure it can be ordered from any big name bookstore that sells audio books). The documentary Billy the Kid from the Legends of the West series by Cabin Fever is okay, but the DVD Special Edition of Young Guns has a documentary feature which is very good. -Menu


Question: My youngster is doing a report on Billy the Kid, any kid-friendly books or movies you can recommend?

Answer: The best book for young people would be The Illustrated Life and Times of Billy the Kid, by Bob Boze Bell. Itís got plenty of pictures and drawings and easy to understand information. As for a movie, Vidal Goreís Billy the Kid starring Val Kilmer is pretty accurate and not too violent for children. Although Young Guns and Young Guns II are the most popular, keep in mind the movies are rated R and has violence, bad language and some nudity, so it may not be suitable for young children. -Menu


Question:
If Billy the Kid never existed would the Lincoln County War have turned out any differently?

Answer: The war would have happened exactly as it did if Billy the Kid never got involved, but Billy the Kid did have one affect on the Lincoln County War and that is he made it famous and the Lincoln County War made him famous. How is that you ask? If the Lincoln County War didn't happen or Billy the Kid never got involved we never would've heard of Billy the Kid and if it wasnít for Billy the Kid, we probably never would've  heard of  the Lincoln County War, or even New Mexico for that matter. -Menu


Question:
What kind of wounds or injures did Billy the Kid have? Was he ever shot during his gunfights?

Answer: Billy the Kid never actually took a direct hit from a bullet that penetrated him, other than the one that killed him in Fort Sumner, but he was grazed by bullets at least twice. On the day the Regulators assassinated Sheriff William Brady, the Kid was grazed by a bullet and a good chunk of flesh was ripped from the side of his hip when Deputy Bill Mathews shot at him. During the gunfight at Blazerís Mill, it was said the Kid had his ďarm shavedĒ by a bullet from Buckshot Roberts. Then there's an account given by a descendant of Yginio Salazar, that Billy the Kid may have been grazed in the lower part of his leg (calf) when running out of McSweenís burning house during the big siege. As far as knife wounds go, there is no record or recollection by anyone that Billy the Kid was stabbed or cut up. Other than the above info, history isnít aware of any other injures or illnesses Billy the Kid may have had over his life time. -Menu
 

Question: Other than the famous tintype of Billy the Kid posing with his rifle, are there any other photographs or images of Billy the Kid?

Answer: We would like to think so, but as of now, the famous tintype (as seen on this website) is all we have to go by. There are plenty of purported photographs that exists, but none have provenance to support the claim, all are highly debatable, and some are downright preposterous and don't deserve notice. I will say that ever since the original authentic tintype of Billy the Kid sold for 2.3 million dollars, more and more alleged photographs have surfaced claiming to be Billy the Kid. None of the images have been formally accepted by professional photos analysts, historians or Billy the Kid experts. Many of these photos are from scram artists trying to sell photographs or make a name for themselves. Do not be fooled by this alleged photographs.  -Menu
 

Question: Is that Billy the Kid's original grave and/or headstone in Fort Sumner? Is it true someone snuck into the cemetery and chiseled the word "Pals" on the headstone?


The monument of Billy the Kid, Charlie Bowdre, & Tom O'Folliard
...there are 3 side-by-side graves, the Kid's is on the far right.
The large stone has the 3 names on it as well as the "Pals" inscription.
A second smaller  "Billy the Kid" headstone is at the foot of the Kid's grave

Answer: When the Kid was buried, he had a plain wooden board with the name "Billy the Kid" crudely carved into it to mark his grave. Unlike the monument we see today, the Kid was not buried right next to his friends, Charlie Bowdre and Tom O'Folliard, but a few yards a way (but Bowdre and O'Folliard were indeed buried next to each other). Then in 1904 the Pecos River flood over took the cemetery and all the markers and even some remains of the dead were washed away. Another possibility is that the Kid's original grave marker was stolen or vandalized before the flood. Whatever the case, the Kid's grave was left unmarked for at least two decades, until finally in 1932 Billy the Kid's friends got some money together and purchased a headstone with the inscription of William H. Bonney alias Billy the Kid, Tom O'Folliard, and Charlie Bowdre, along with the word "Pals." Shortly after, another much smaller headstone was placed for Billy the Kid in the same spot, and that one has been stolen twice and fortunately recovered. So in order to protect the headstones from thieves, an iron cage was placed over the grave. It's very unlikely that the "Pals" headstone was placed on the exact location of the Kid's original grave, so it's more like a memorial monument then the actually last resting place of Billy the Kid, and most of all, that of Bowdre and O'Folliard. But the Kid was still buried in that tiny cemetery, so those of you who visited the grave or will someday, shouldn't be too disappointed -Billy the Kid's spirit and memory is still there and it doesn't matter if you're standing "right" over his grave or not. -Menu

 

Question: What's all this talk about a posthumous pardon for Billy the Kid? Was Billy the Kid pardon by Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico?

Answer: The answer is no. For the last several years Billy the Kid supporters had approached Gov. Richardson to give Billy the Kid a posthumous pardon. Why? We need to go back to March of 1879. Gov. Lew Wallac struck a deal with Billy the Kid to testify against murderers on the James Dolan (Sante Fe Ring) side of the Lincoln County War in exchange for a full pardon. Billy the Kid did exactly as promised and not only did he risk his life, but he went above and beyond in fulfilling his obligations, but the governor backed out on his. After being abandoned by the governor, Billy was left to fend for himself against a bias justice system of Dolan supporters and they were bent on seeing the Kid hang. So Billy the Kid had no choice, but to escape. Over the course of two years, while dodging the law, Billy had written letters to Gov. Wallace reminding him of his promise, but the Kid's letters were ignored. The Kid was getting deeper in trouble thanks to exaggerated accusations that were building against him. The Kid was eventually captured, put on trial, found guilty, and sentence to death. On April 28, 1881 the Kid escaped jail, but had to kill two of his guards in the process. Then a few months later, Sheriff Pat Garrett caught up with the Kid and shot him dead in Fort Sumner. So now, back to the 21st century...Gov. Richardson highly consideration pardoning Billy the Kid to fulfill Gov. Wallace's promise, but he was met with opposition by descendents of the victims of Billy the Kid, as well as descendents of Sheriff Pat Garrett and Lew Wallace. In December of 2010, after years of back and forth debating, Gov. Richardson decided NOT to pardon Billy the Kid. Although Richardson believed that Gov. Wallace should've pardon Billy the Kid back in 1879, he felt that the Kid forfeited his pardon when he killed his two deputies during the jailbreak in 1881. Well, I say, if Wallace stuck to his end of the bargain, Billy the Kid never would've killed those two deputies. Wallace's failure to complete his promise not only cost Billy the Kid's life, but that of other men as well (Jim Carlyle, Tom O'Folliard, Charlie Bowdre, James Bell, and Bob Ollinger).

 

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