When you walk into any thrift store holding just 20 bucks, you feel as rich as a king. That’s what makes junk shops and used-item outlets worth your time: walk in empty-handed, pay the cost of lunch, and stroll out with an armful of clothes, books, and trinkets.
And when Randy Guijarro wandered into a Fresno, California, thrift store in 2010 with a few bucks in his pocket, he was hoping just to scoop up something unique for his home. He shelled out two dollars for a collection of photos that piqued his interest, having no clue one image in the bunch might be the first of its kind.
Fresno, California, resident Randy Guijarro was all about the thrift store life. His town was full of cool unique little shops where locals turned in their unused junk, and Randy loved to frequent them.
There was one store in particular nestled in the center of Fresno that Randy felt had the best stuff — there was always something new on the shelves. One afternoon, he paid the shop a visit. His life was about to change forever.
Normally he was drawn to the sports memorabilia, as well as comic books, furniture, kitchen items, and home decor. However, on this particular trip, his eyes were drawn to a photo.
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On one of the shelves towards the back of the store there was a collection of old black-and-white pictures, clearly from many years ago. After sifting through, Randy purchased three photos for two bucks. In that transaction, his life changed.
One of the photos was this small tintype print showing a group of people playing croquet in front of a wooden cabin. Most of the photos at the thrift store were portraits, which was why this one stood out.
Randy had no idea where the photo was taken, but the more he looked at it, curiosity set in. Then, he examined it with a magnifying glass to see more detail, and something immediately stood out.
This character standing with a croquet mallet looked peculiarly like the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid, who lived during the late 1800s. But, Randy doubted the picture was legit, knowing only a few photos of the outlaw even existed.
There were countless cases of people believing they held authentic pictures of the outlaw, only for experts to deem their photos fraudulent. But, when one film producer heard of Randy’s purchase, he stepped in to find the answers.
Jeff Aiello tracked down Randy and offered to help him on his journey to prove the photo was, in fact, legitimate, and therefore worth a ton of money. The adventure started with visiting various experts in the field.
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Almost immediately, several people shot down Randy and Jeff, telling them they were chasing a prize that didn’t exist. Of course, this was a blow to their confidence, but soon a breakthrough occurred.
Jill Aiello, Jeff’s wife, managed to track down the actual diary of this woman, Sally Chisum, another member of the Regulators, the gang Billy the Kid belonged to. The diary confirmed all of the members were together on this a particular day.
Things were starting to snowball now, and National Geographic even showed interest in Jeff’s self-funded documentary. The next step now was facial recognition testing, and an expert named Ken Gibson volunteered his time to help.
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In the court of law, if facial recognition receives over 60 percent points, the photos are considered legitimate. The people in Randy’s photo, including Billy the Kid, received upwards of 80 percent points! There was only one thing left to do.
For the final act of confirmation, Jeff and Randy managed to track down the actual building seen in the photo. It was on the ranch of John Tunstall, the man who founded the Regulators. This picture was real — and that meant one thing.
Money! Randy and Jeff both knew this entire search could have ended up empty-handed, but Jeff held a strange suspicion Randy had something special. Because of that, he was looking at a mighty pay day. But how much?
Riding high, Randy was interviewed by news outlets all over Fresno. No one could believe he spent a measly two dollars on a photo that he now planned on selling for nearly $5 million! That’s when the thrift store owner chimed in.
The owner of the thrift store couldn’t have been happier for Randy — although he probably wished he himself knew how special the photo was. Either way, his loyal customer walked out with a life-changing purchase that afrernoon.
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It was nearly impossible for Jeff, his family, and his friends to wipe their smiles off after years of research and hard work resulted in a lottery win. Maybe it’s time for a nice relaxing vacation?
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Randy Guijarro ws proud of his find, but critics still doubted the authenticity of the photo. In fact, a few years later, Randy was pulled back into the “Billy the Kid” debate all over again.
This time, the story started with brothers Keith and Brian Collins. Their history obsession leads them to areas of the country where historic artifacts are prevalent, so they charted a course for the famous Old Western town of Tombstone, Arizona,.
See, people from all over flock to Tombstone to experience life during the 1800s. Many of the buildings are old-fashioned replicas, which was right up Keith and Brian’s alley. A previous experience indicated the small town might be a historic artifact hot spot.
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The 2011 trip to the Carriage House Antiques shop in Hesperia, California, garnered them plenty of public attention. The men visited the shop in search of some historic finds, and they came away with quite the discovery.
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They found an authentic photo album of the famous Wyatt Earp with several members of his family. The album was among a pile of other old photos, but none of them were nearly as special as this.
Wyatt Earp was an Old West lawman and gambler, as well as the deputy marshal of Tombstone. Now that the brothers were actually visiting Tombstone, they hit the thrift stores in hopes of finding more history.
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In the first store they entered, they immediately asked if there were any old photos for sale — they were hoping to find something like the Wyatt Earp album. They eventually ended up purchasing this tintype of two men.
They bought the tintype, as well as two other old photographs, for a total of $13. They tossed the pictures in the glove compartment at first, but later that night, Keith examined the one with the two men.
He stared at the photo closely, then passed it to his brother. “I’m looking at it, and I’m thinking, ‘That can’t be who I think it is.’ So I passed it to Brian (who said,) ‘That’s Billy the Kid.’”
Could the brothers really have stumbled upon an actual photo of Billy the Kid, the infamous outlaw who was a major player in the Lincoln County Regulators gang? He’s perhaps the only Regulator anyone really even remembered.
Even to this day, the name “Billy the Kid” is recognizable. Heck, this abstract artwork of the outlaw hangs in a modern museum! This guy was a big name, and now Keith and Brian needed answers.
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When they asked the man who sold them the photos where he’d gotten them, he told them, “Oh, we actually dug it up at a tent.” The tent was located in an area known for gambling, which excited the brothers.
Billy the Kid and the other man in the photo, his half-brother Joseph Antrim, according to Keith, were big gamblers, which added to the evidence the photo was legit. However, not everyone held this belief.
The executive editor of True West Magazine, Bob Boze Bell, had no doubt in his mind the photo was a fake. According to Bob, he sees people who have “authentic” Billy the Kid photos “almost every week.”
He continued, “Short of a letter from someone who actually knew the Kid and who specifically mentions this photo, there is no way to prove anything.” He even doubted the 2010 Billy the Kid photo that sold for $5 million.
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In 2010, a man named Randy Guijarro purchased a photo of Billy the Kid playing croquet from a thrift store in Fresno, California. With the help of a National Geographic producer, he was able to prove its authenticity.
Jeff Aiello, the producer who helped Randy for over a year determine whether his photo was legit, was obviously just as interested in Keith and Brian’s find, and he volunteered to help them, as well.
The biggest factor in determining photo authenticity, as Jeff learned with Randy, was facial recognition technology. Unfortunately, when the brothers’ photo was put to the test, it didn’t land nearly enough percent points to justify a match.
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Jeff admitted, “In my opinion, neither one of those guys is close to Billy. I laid out facial recognition data over them. The facial geometry doesn’t match. It’s a cool image though.” The brothers, however, weren’t disheartened.
Keith said, “Brian and I are trying to preserve history before it’s gone.” These guys simply want the importance of the era appreciated by others. Still, they’re on the lookout for all Old West photos — including rarely pictures of one iconic duo.
Not many people believe in fate, but forces were definitely at play when Bonnie Parker met Clyde Barrow way back in 1930. A mutual friend had broken his arm, and by chance the two just happened to be visiting him on the exact same day.
Their chemistry was instant, though this was no fairytale meeting. Clyde was already heavily involved in criminal activity by this point, and Bonnie (left) was actually married to another man at the time.
To make matters worse, Clyde was arrested just three months later for a series of robberies he’d committed. He spent two years in the slammer and was released in 1932.
As soon as he stepped from the prison, Bonnie was there waiting for him. The 22-year-old Texas girl had no prior criminal history, though it was clear she was willing to go to hell and back for her lawbreaker love.
The couple’s gang — dubbed the “Barrow Gang” — started off small at first, their criminal activities centered on the small towns of north-central Texas. Together, Bonnie & Clyde robbed gas stations, stole guns, and even tried to bust their fellow gang members out of prison.
Just weeks into their crime spree, Bonnie was arrested while trying to rob guns from a hardware store. She only spent a few months in prison, however, and the criminal couple picked up right where they left off as soon as she got out.
The gang soon grew increasingly bold in their crimes, even going as far as murdering sheriffs and officers of the law. Bonnie hadn’t been a criminal to start, but by this point, she’d definitely acquired a taste for life on the lam.
Along with their criminal activities, the gang’s area of operation expanded as well. They pushed beyond Texas, stirring up trouble in places like Missouri, Louisiana, and even as far north as Minnesota.
The gang soon grew so successful that even family members wanted in on the action. Clyde’s brother, Buck, and his wife Blanche joined the ranks, turning their robberies into one heck of a dangerous double date.
But their string of good fortune hit a snag when a police tip forced the gang to flee their Joplin, Missouri hideout in 1933, their possessions left scattered about the house — including two rolls of film.
The photos soon began making the rounds in papers across the country, serving to add fuel to the already raging fire surrounding the gang and their crimes. Yet not every image painted Bonnie and Clyde as ruthless, bloodthirsty outlaws.
In some, the gang’s youth and playfulness shone through, surprising many with how utterly normal they appeared to be. Bonnie and Clyde, of course, generated the most attention — who could resist a good-looking couple whose love for one another had carried over into their life of crime?
Bonnie was especially romanticized by the media, the recovered photos depicting her as a rough-and-tough southern gal who wasn’t afraid to run with the bad boys. This photo of her chomping a cigar remains one of her most iconic.
But as the tale of Bonnie and Clyde climbed its way up the headlines, so too did the Barrow Gang up the “Most Wanted” list. With all eyes peeled for the celebrity criminals’ next move, the gang soon discovered that fame comes at a high price.
While laying low south of Platte City, Missouri, the Barrow Gang was ambushed by Highway Patrol officers in an armored car. Though Bonnie and Clyde managed to escape the assault, Buck was killed and Blanche (below) was captured.
Public opinion toward the outlaw couple also began to shift after one of the gang members murdered two patrolmen near Grapevine, Texas. It was falsely reported that Bonnie had maliciously carried out the “Grapevine killings,” leaving many demanding the gang’s execution.
Law enforcement officials managed to chart the gang’s regular movements around county lines, leading them to a rendezvous point that happened to be the home of one of the gang member’s family. Hidden along Louisiana State Highway 154, the posse of lawmen waited for Bonnie and Clyde to arrive.
On the morning of May 23, 1934, officers open fired on Clyde’s stolen Ford V8. After completely emptying their weapons on the fugitives, Bonnie and Clyde’s blood-spattered crime spree had finally come to an end.
In the years that followed, the story of Bonnie and Clyde gradually faded into obscurity, becoming just another chapter of American outlaw history. But in 1967, the criminal couple burst back into the public consciousness — and it was all thanks to Hollywood.
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway’s portrayal in Bonnie & Clyde cemented the dastardly duo as the romantic icons they are today. Still, they wouldn’t have reached spectacular — and terrible — heights without those who set the stage before them.
Martha Jane Cannary, as her parents named her, published her own tell-all memoir, The Autobiography of Calamity Jane, in 1896, though, according to historians, the truth to her claims leans closer to tall tales than they do to real life events.
She pinpointed her birthdate to 1852, but even that small fact was inaccurate, as she was actually born in 1856. Her parents, Robert and Charlotte, started a family in Missouri, ignoring the mutterings of their neighbors. And they certainly had reason to mutter…
It was said that Robert, a gambler and erstwhile former, found his wife in a brothel. Charlotte was a sex worker at the time, but Robert intended to end that chapter of her life and turn her into a traditional bride. Needless to say, they left for greener pastures.
Gold was the answer to all their worries, so the Cannary family — Martha Jane, her two younger brothers, and three younger sisters — crammed into the back of a covered wagon with their parents and headed for Montana.
Not everyone survived the quest for fortune. Charlotte succumbed to pneumonia once they reached Montana, so Robert was left scrambling to redraw a plan for their survival. He took his children onward to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Less than a year after they arrived, Robert died, leaving his six children orphaned. The oldest of the lot, 14-year-old Martha Jane, sucked up her grief and assumed the role of head of household.
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Martha Jane followed her parent’s pattern, packing her siblings into a wagon and moving them to Wyoming. That’s where she boasted her wild stage officially fired off. “I was considered the most reckless and daring rider and one of the best shots in the western country,” she wrote.
Beneath the hyperbole, the truth wasn’t so glamorous, but it paid the bills. Martha Jane did whatever job she could to support her brothers and sisters: washing dishes, doing laundry, and even two-stepping with lonely soldiers at a local boarding house.
As Martha Jane told it, General Custer himself recruited her as a scout based in Fort Russell. It was with the US Army that she claimed to have run missions stretching as far as Arizona, but there are zero records to prove it. Also, Custer never stepped foot in Arizona.
Other narratives swirled that Martha Jane spent much of this chapter in the infamous hub of debauchery — Fort Laramie Three-Mile Hog Ranch. When times were tight, Martha Jane joined the ranks of the other ladies of the night. But she refused to let others write her story for her…
By day, Martha Jane was busy fashioning a brand new name. Her accounts of the early 1870s depict a woman flouting gender standards and mastering all aspects of the rough and tumble western lifestyle.
By her own account, Jane earned her moniker in the noblest of ways. In 1872, while ambushing Native Americans in Goose Creek, Wyoming, the leader of the brigade, Captain Egan, took a bullet.
Racing in to save him from tumbling off his horse, Martha Jane braved gunfire to pull Captian Egan safely onto her saddle. In awe of her nerve, the Captain croaked, “I name you Calamity Jane, the heroine of the plains.”
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Hard to beat an origin story that heroic, and that’s exactly why it’s taken with a grain of salt. Jane’s integrity wasn’t as well known as her ferocity. The other fitting explanation was a phrase that followed her: “to offend her was to court calamity.”
In 1876, Calamity took a break from her scouting duties in Fort Laramie, Wyoming, and met a wagon train headed for Deadwood, South Dakota. Jane hitched a ride in the wagon of the sharply dressed wild western figure Charlie Utter.
Charlie’s claim to fame was as right-hand man to Wild Bill Hickok. A trigger happy, professional gambler who could put away several drinks, Wild Bill immediately found a friend in Calamity Jane as their caravan trekked across the plains.
Where they just friends? Calamity couldn’t keep her story straight. In her biography, she labeled Bill a “friend,” however, in 1902, she verbally referred to him as her “affianced husband.” Something seems fishy about the change in tone after Hickok’s fame skyrocketed.
Given that Wild Bill played his final hand of cards, the dead man’s hand of double aces and eights, just six weeks after he met Calamity, their romance was more than likely hot air.
Nuttal & Mann Salon No. 1o was the setting of Wild Bill’s death by poker. After an embarrassing loss the day before, Jack McCall barged into the saloon and executed Wild Bill while he sat at the game table.
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Calamity Jane, true to her name, didn’t take the murder lightly. She wrote that she chased Jack McCall with a meat cleaver since she left her guns at home. Ultimately, the justice system saw him hanged.
Our heroine spent the remainder of her short life — she died at 51 — maintaining her foolhardy lifestyle. Drinking and roughhousing aside, Calamity was also remembered for her big tender heart.
Deadwood’s newspaper, the Black Hills Daily Times, printed, “It didn’t matter to her whether a person was rich, poor, white, or black, or what their circumstances were, Calamity Jane was just the same to all.”
Her stern exterior and sharp shooting prowess set Calamity apart. But her willingness to help others is how friends remembered her. It’s fitting that Doris Day depicted her onscreen because she, too, was a woman more complex than how she was perceived.
Cookie cutter wouldn’t even begin to describe Doris Day’s reputation. The All American girl, a blonde haired, blue eyed non-threatening beauty, was born April 3, 1992, to a choirmaster father and a homemaker mother. But she had bigger dreams for herself.
Her dream was to make it as a dancer. In her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, little Doris made a name for herself as part of a dance duo with her partner Jerry Doherty. But before she could break out of her home town, an accident halted her plans.
Her dreams were dashed before she ever had the chance to sashay across the stage. While cruising with friends, their car was struck twice by a train. Somehow escaping with her life, Doris suffered a lasting leg injury that snuffed out any dancing hopes.
While in the hospital, Doris filled the dreary days confined to a bed singing along to the radio while waiting for her leg to mend. Turning what should’ve been a sad time into a period of beauty, she realized her pipes weren’t too shabby.
So, a 15-year-old Doris trudged onto the next thing: she joined the ranks of Barney Rapp’s band. While crooning in Cincinnati, Doris met a man that tried his utmost to win her heart.
Several years later, in 1941, Doris tied the knot to a fellow musician, trombonist Al Jorden. Their marriage wasn’t as harmonious as the music they made. Two days after marrying, Jorden began physically abusing his wife, even during her pregnancy.
Doris explained in her biography, “What had represented to me as love emerged as jealousy — pathologic jealousy.” The marriage ended after two years, and Doris, now a mother to her only child Terry, emerged post-divorce ready to break into the entertainment business.
Following her divorce, Doris started singing with a new band, helmed by Les Brown. Soon after, she scored the first massive hit that launched her into the spotlight. The song that captured the hearts of homesick soldiers was her first hit, “Sentimental Journey” 1945.
From then on, her star continued to rise. While serenading a party full of well-connected Hollywood types, Doris’s hypnotizing rendition of “Embraceable You” made songwriter Jule Styne take notice. He invited Doris in for a screen test for a new film, Romance on the High Seas. Doris snagged the role.
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But acting had never been on Doris’ radar. She confessed to the film’s director, Michael Curtiz, her total lack of experience. He appreciated her honesty. Still, Doris proved a capable actress, and her voice lent the film a smash hit with the song “It’s Magic.”
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Now with a number of chart-topping hits, Doris received tons of film and musical offers. In a span of 5 years, she appeared in 13 films, carried several Oscar-nominated songs, and collectively won the hearts of Americans across the country.
Meanwhile, while her star rose, Doris gave love a chance once more, marrying film producer Martin Melcher. The two jointly formed Arwin Productions in 1952, which pumped out Doris Day films.
It wasn’t until 1953 that Doris put on her famed fringe jacket in her most well-known film. Playing, the western heroine Calamity Jane, Doris sealed her future as a Hollywood legend. Even her co-stars thought the world of her.
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For instance, her costar for her first dramatic role in the film Love Me Or Leave Me, James Cagney characterized Doris as “the epitome of guilelessness.” Something about her was just likable, easy, and ultimately innocent. Other stars noticed this, too.
Sparring opposite the most well regarded leading men in the Golden Age of Hollywood — Cary Grant, James Garner, Clarke Gable — Doris Day beamed as spirited, captivating star. Of all her onscreen beaus, her favorite was always Rock Hudson, who described their undeniable chemistry.
“The two people have to truly like each other, as Doris and I did,” Rock said,” for that shines through, the sparkle, the twinkle in the eye as the two people look at each other.” Together the lifelong friends made 3 films and remained close until Rock’s life was sadly cut short.
By the late ’60s, Doris’ particular brand of naivete had started to ebb into old fashion. Films were exploring grittier female characters, and Doris Day’s movies remained firmly in the PG territory. Worse, in 1968, a personal tragedy added to her already growing troubles.
Her husband, movie producer Martin Melcher suddenly died. As practicing Christian Scientists, the couple didn’t visit medical professionals, and Martin succumbed to an enlarged heart. The nightmare didn’t end there, though.
Soon after his death, Doris was gutted to learn Martin and their lawyer Jerome Rosenthal had taken serious liberties with her finances. Unbeknownst to the actress, most of her earnings from film successes had been blown, leaving her buried in debt.
Worse yet, her late husband had done something Doris had always fiercely resisted; he’d signed her on to make a TV sitcom. No finagling could get her out of the deal, so, in the most Doris Day way, she made lemonade out of lemons.
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For 5 years, The Doris Day Show ran on CBS. As a trade-off for committing to a sitcom, Doris ensured full creative control of the program bearing her name — and this led to interesting opportunities.
Each episode opened with Doris singing the optimistic tune “Que Sera, Sera,” which set the tone for the “throw away the handbook” mentality seen in the dramatic changes in cast and plot from season to season.
After the show ended, Doris retreated from the spotlight. The exception was her shortlived talk show, Doris Day’s Best Friends. One episode featured her dear friend Rock Hudson in one of his final onscreen appearances before succumbing to AIDS in October of 1985.
In the same year, right as she grieved the loss one of her longest beloved friends, Doris’ talk show collapsed. Naturally, rather than dwell on her misfortunes, Doris examined her life and made a formative change.
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It was curtains on showbiz. Drawing on her past, when she founded the organization Actors and Others for Animals back in 1971, she refocused on animals. Her new life’s work became her two official nonprofits: the Doris Day Animal Foundation, and the citizen lobbying organization the Doris Day Animal League.
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Doris’ chin-up spirit in response to unforeseen and often out of her control circumstances wasn’t limited to her film persona. When one thing went wrong, she dusted herself off and moved onto the next hurdle, a quality she prided herself on.
“I always said I was like those round-bottomed circus dolls,” she said. “You know, those dolls you could push down and they’d come back up? I’ve always been like that. I’ve always said, ‘No matter what happens, if I get pushed down, I’m going to come right back up.”