The research for Dawn's and my new book has led me to:
"Jesse James, the youngest [brother]. has a face as smooth and as innocent as the face of a school girl. The blue eyes, very clear and penetrating, are never at rest. His form is tall, graceful and capable of great endurance and great effort. There is always a smile on his lips, and a graceful word or a compliment for all with whom he comes in contact. Looking at his small white hands, with their long, tapering fingers, one would not imagine that with a revolver they were among the quickest and deadliest in all the West. Frank is older and taller. Jesse's face is a perfect oval -- Frank's is long, wide about the forehead, square and massive about the jaws and chin, and set always in a look of fixed repose. Jesse laughs at everything -- Frank at nothing at all. Jesse is light-hearted, reckless, devil-may-care -- Frank sober, sedate, a dangerous man always in ambush in the midst of society. Jesse knows there is a price on his head and discusses the whys and wherefores of it -- Frank knows it, too, but it chafes him sorely and arouses all the tiger that is in his heart. Neither will be taken alive. Killed -- that may be. Having long ago shaken hands with life, when death does come it will come to those who, neither surprised nor dissappointed, will greet him with the exclamation: 'How now, old fellow.'"
These words are written in a wonderful piece of literature called, Jesse James; The Best Writings on the Notorious Outlaw and His Gang, edited by Harold Dellinger.
The words I find of great interest (so far) are:
"This arresting, this fascinating person is, in truth, merely the embodiment of a superstitious belief. He is only an emblem, a symbolic name -- but what a name! It does not appear, to be sure, among the lists of America's most important sons, it is not to be found in those respectable histories that purport to give a full account of all the forces that have touched her most deeply; and yet, from the standpoint of significantly concealed influences upon the mind of youth, and not seldom of maturity, it is certainly of much greater importance than many names which have been scholarically honored and popularly forgotten...Under the circumstances, it has been thought that the most expedient thing to do was to be painstakingly oblivious of his existence, to treat him as poor relation are wont to be treated, and to push him into limbo as speedily as possible.
This has been done -- only by the elect minority. But, the difficulty with this commendable policy lies in the fact that the profane folk-imagination which surrounded Jesse James with a nimbus of mingled glory and odium was one of the vital elements of [the nineteenth century]; that, even today, it still surrounds him and his spiritual bedfellows who, to the delight of the multitudes, swagger along their rascally ways in sensational fiction, in the cinema, and even actual life...The fact is clear: The king of American desperadoes was a more real and lively influence upon many -- no one can say how many -- Americans than were the Presidents in power during the sixteen years of his domination in the realm of Western Romance. In a country that was rapidly becoming tame and civilized, he stood for everything baroque and barbaric; he was the personification of all that was wild, uncultured, savage, and opposed to the trend of the times."
This is going to be fun.
I love my work.