The Blackstone Valley has always been a farming community. Although it was the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, the farms have always been here too. People, after all, need to eat and where the ground is fertile and apple orchards thrive, families will farm.
Summer has come, right on time. It usually shows up just around Memorial Day and that will be here this weekend. The cows are serene. The chickens and horses are content and peaceful. The corn is coming up green and it looks like a good crop is on the way. Soon we’ll have fresh local produce and our air will be full of the scent of things growing from the earth.
This is such an amazing, terrifying, remarkable — and true — story, I hope all of you will read it.
Originally posted on Hot Rod Cowgirl:
Days of our lives drifting through my mind…life is forever…right? Our lives were running out of time with only seconds left…run…run from what? Wait…what? RUN NOW!
Looking back now, the images seem almost surreal. Everything that happened to us, happened in a matter of seconds. We were all players, fulfilling our roles in this real life and death drama…only it was our life and death drama and it was very real. We survived the unusual flash flood, the timing of us all being together was a blessing from above. The flood went down in history due to the massive amount of water and debris, calling it a historic 100 year flash flood.
Life has been singularly bereft of heroes lately. Perhaps I’m just getting older and life is making me more cynical but I think it’s the world that’s getting more cynical. It seems to me there has been a continuing trend on TV and the movies that has accelerated in recent years to create heroes who are not entirely heroic, but rather more human. Less black and white, more gray. Despite how reasonable this approach may be, I prefer my heroes heroic.
I like my superheroes really super, solidly and clearly on the side of justice. There’s plenty of room in literature, film, theater and television for ambivalence and flawed heroes. At least in genres where my heroes fight evil to save the earth or a some piece of it, I want a clear and unambiguous line between good and evil. Life isn’t really like that, but that’s what escapism in the movies and on television is all about.
Today being Christmas, my first question is whether or not Santa Claus counts as a superhero. I think the answer will depend on the age of the person answering the question. Probably “yes” below age 6. A solid “maybe” through around age 9, followed by a short period of ”I don’t think so.” I remember when my granddaughter was at the “switchover” age. She was reasonably sure there was no Santa Claus, but she figured she ought to hedge her bets, just in case.
She definitely didn’t want to alienate Santa should he turn out to be the bestower of gifts. Thus she “sort of believed,” but sort of didn’t. It was funny watching her work her way through her first major philosophical dilemma.
Personally, I’m a weenie for masked men. I’m a sucker for horses even without a rider, so it can’t be much of a surprise. Depending on the level of heroism involves, I can compromise on the mask too. But LOTS of extra credit for the horse and if it is a particularly magnificent steed … ah, be still my heart.
I am almost as passionate about superheroes. I favor capes. Although I waited patiently, none of my heroes ever came to take me away. I love my husband and an orange 1970 (1969?) Dodge Challenger convertible, although not a horse, was certainly a better than average ride, but I did long for the mythos and might of my comic book and screen heroes and super heroes. Although I’m significantly more creaky than I used to be (maybe a buckboard rather than a saddle?) I’m still ready and waiting.
Superman was filmed in color, though I was well into my 30s before I saw it for myself. Until then, I never had a color TV so I remember all those early shows as black and white and am frequently surprised to discover they are actually in color. Zorro made my heart flutter and The Lone Ranger made me weak in the knees. Despite the fact that to this day, I cannot fathom how come no one recognized Superman when he wore wire-rimmed eyeglasses, I loved him anyway. Batman too, though Supe was really My Guy.
I had some small issue with the whole phone booth thing since in New York, where I grew up, they had glass sides, so they were not exactly a private shelter. Why didn’t he just do it at super speed so no one could see? Who needs a phone booth anyhow?
I am glad that movie makers share my love for the super guys who filled the dreams of my girlhood. I was the only girl … hell, the only kid … I knew who had Lone Ranger wallpaper. Not on a computer. There was no such thing. No, I had it on my walls. Lone and Tonto, endlessly riding in a small circle around the same little patch of ground … “Hi yo Silver! The Lone Ranger Rides Again!” I always thought Tonto got rather short shrift and I thought his horse, Scout, was every bit as cool as Silver, but I would have settled for any kind of equine.
He could graze on our lawn, live in the otherwise unused garage, please mom? I’ll take care of him. You won’t have to do a thing.
She was immovable. How could I lead the fight for Justice without a horse? I tried flying, which worked for Superman, but all I got were scabby knees and elbows. No matter how hard, no leap got me over a single tall, or even medium-sized building.
So, return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when Silver and Scout, Trigger and that fabulous black horse that Zorro always rode carried my heroes, with and without masks. I absolutely positively will NOT see the latest remake. Johnny Depp in heavy makeup and way too many feathers as Tonto? Hell, Jay Silverheels was at least a real Native American. Couldn’t we do as well in 2012?
We could use a few heroes now, could we not?
Maybe they are still out there … we just don’t seem to see much of them anymore.
To this day, movies and television shows about animals affect me deeply. I can be brought to tears by virtually any story featuring a dog or a horse … or any other animal. I will cry at reruns of Flipper.
When I was growing up, we had a pretty good selection of shows where the star of the show was a horse or a dog. No sea creatures yet, but lots of dogs and horses. Cats, not so much. Yet.
First and foremost, there was Lassie, in several incarnations as one child star grew out of the roll and another replaced him. No girls, always boys. This first clip is from 1958 with Jon Provost as Timmy … the kid that Lassie saved pretty much every day … from snakes, cougars, cars, quicksand … that was, in retrospect, one accident prone kid!
The next show, starring Tommy Rettig, I remember better, probably because I was at a really impressionable age. This clip is from 1957 …
I always wanted a collie. To reinforce my belief that these had to be the best dogs in the world, there was the Lad series by Albert Payson Terhune. Lad A Dog can still turn me into a blubbering wreck and of course, I have the original copy of the book I borrowed from the P. S. 35 school library and forgot — permenantly — to return. Those library bindings were sturdy because I’ve read it dozens of times and it’s still in surprisingly good shape.
Lassie wasn’t the only canine hero (Lassie was a dog, despite the name). For the more military-minded, there was Rin Tin Tin! His “kid” was Rusty. Oddly, my first three dogs, all Doberman Pinschers, were named Rusty. Hmm.
My Friend Flicka was a Saturday morning favorite. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV during the day at home, but fortunately, my friends had less strict moms and televisions, so I got so see some shows anyhow. I haven’t been able to find a video clip from that show. I’ll keep looking and if I find something, I’ll add it.
Fury was another popular Saturday morning show. I only got to see it once in a while, but I was glad enough to see it at all.
Television shows starring animals were aimed at kids and aired mostly on Saturday morning, but movies were a rich source of wonderful animal stories. Of the greats from my youth, National Velvet is still a favorite and I never miss it when it shows on cable. Elizabeth Taylor was an incredibly beautiful child … even more beautiful than after she grew up. And to me, she was the real Velvet Brown. She knew how to ride. She didn’t learn for the movie: she was a rider and oh how I envied her!
A Dog of Flanders (the 1959 original, NOT the more recent remake) always makes me cry. Of course.
As an addicted lover of terriers — we have a Scottish Terrier (Bonnie, Queen of the Pack) and had for many years a beautiful Norwich, Divot — the eternal best beloved of my husband, Garry … and we will have another Norwich before summer is out. I had a couple of Cairns and my first Scottie while I lived in New York. I cleverly named my first Scottie MacADog, in obvious homage to Lad A Dog. Not the same breed, but the spirit was right.
Naturally, the original version of Greyfriars Bobby is among my all time favorite dog movies, the 1961 version that properly starred a grey Skye Terrier and NOT a white Westhighland, as did the later (bad) American version. To make it even better, it’s a true story, give or take a lie or two.
Following is the entire film, in 9 sequential parts. Enjoy!
And the last, Part 9:
I hope you enjoyed it!
And there are so many more. Part of my love of westerns is the direct result of loving horses. I always watch the way they ride in westerns. Harrison Ford, who co-starred with Gene Wilder in the 1979 Frisco Kid posts whenever he goes into a trot. Clearly not trained western style, it always makes me laugh to see it. Another favorite unintentional piece of movie humor shows Indians mounted on horses with saddles, bridles, and stirrups.
It gets confusing because so many of movies became TV series and were remade into movies again in the 1980s and after. Hollywood is very fond of remaking the movies. I wish that instead of trying to remake good movies into worse movies, they would try to make bad ones better. Doesn’t that make more sense? It does to me.
My favorite series of books when I was a child was The Black Stallion, Walter Farley‘s wonderful stories about the mysterious black stallion from Arabia who became the sire of many champions. By the time Francis Ford Coppola made the book into a movie in 1979, I was in my 30s and not exactly a child, but of course I had see it. I have since watched it over and over. It isn’t faithful to the story line or the book, but Coppola captures the spirit beautifully using few words and some of the finest cinematography I’ve ever seen, which is why I’ve included 3 clips … none of which include a single word of dialogue!
and finally, the match race!
The Black Stallion was written long before Secretariat ran races that exceeded anything any author could make up. I remember Secretariat. I watched him run. If you saw him, you’ve not forgotten either. The greatest racehorse of all time, as of today, June 20th, Secretariat holds the record for all three races of the triple crown: the Belmont Stakes, the Preakness, and the Kentucky Derby. He has never been beaten and I doubt he ever will be.
First, here’s the Kentucky Derby:
Next, the Preakness:
Here is the actual footage of Secretariat’s running of the 1973 Belmont Stakes, a 31 length victory yet to be matched and probably never to be beaten!
After you watch this clip, you will see other video footage relating to Secretariat, some of which are excellent and well worth watching … including a link to the entire recent movie. However, to return to the original footage of the Belmont Stakes, you would need to refresh (reload) the screen to find that link.
Finally, here’s a tribute to this greatest of all racehorses … get your hankies ready.
It’s the last footage ever shot of Secretariat.