Saturday, November 11, 2017

remember us

Two of my uncles served in the United States Navy during World War II - Patillo Ainsworth Finlayson and James Murdoch Finlayson. They survived the war and lived to be old bachelors.  Murdoch passed away in June of 2008 and Pat died April 2011.

It was a few years after Murdoch's death, while visiting in Columbia, Uncle Pat told me something before we retired for the evening.  I was headed to his guest room when he said that he deeply appreciated my journaling/blogging about his and Murdoch's wartime experiences.  He said something to the affect that having never married, having never had children, that he did not want to be forgotten.  Pat told me that it meant a great deal that their service be documented and not forgotten.

The next day my brother and I took Aunt Jennie Llew and Uncle Pat to The Lizard's Thicket - their favorite place to eat.  Pat was the first at the table and I sat across from him.  I don't know where Brook and Jennie Llew were at the moment - but Pat and I were at the table for a few minutes a lone.

Pat put down his menu and told me something that had recently happened while in the sitting area at Still Hopes Retirement Community.  He told me that a group of high school students were visiting the community ~ mingling with the old residents.  Pat said that a young man approached him and asked if he had served in the military.  Pat told the boy that he served during World War II in the United States Navy.  I don't know if Pat told him that he was part of the Amphibious Landing Force with three campaigns under his belt that included the Normandy Invasion.

Pat's eyes began to well.  I leaned forward to hear what he was saying through the noise of the restaurant clatter and chatter.

He said, this young man then reached out his hand to shake his hand and said "Thank you for your service sire."  At first I didn't understand why he seemed so emotional about the incident encounter.  I kept eye contact with Uncle Pat.  He paused and then raised his hands from the table and said, "I didn't respond.  He caught me by one had ever thanked me for that."  He was taken off guard a boys gratitude and couldn't respond. The moment left him speechless.

Then a small wave hit me from his side of table.  I felt a little pang guilt for having never personally thanked him before that moment.  The dear old veteran lived into 90's with only a young stranger to thank him for his sacrifice.

My eyes welled too upon my realization of the impact it had had on him. The conversation changed as the rest of the party seated themselves around the table.  Pat's head ducked behind his menu and I followed suit.

My eyes well up each veterans day since.  My eyes well as I write this memory.  Pat said he didn't want to be forgotten.  He didn't want Murdoch to be forgotten - their service.  It meant something to him that we remember, to not be forgotten.

There are men and women around us who have served.  I believe each and every veteran needs to hear it from our own lips, whether we be family, friends or the stranger.

Thank you!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

America's Sweetheart

My streaming device broke a week ago, so I've been watching DVDs I have around the house.  Gina came home this chilly wet night, slipped under a blanket on the sofa.  "You got anything good to watch?" she asked.  I pulled out Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm (1938) starring Shirley Temple. Katie came home from school and sat down for the last half of the show.

It had been a very long time since I watched a Shirley Temple movie. They are all simple, predictable plots ~ but I have always found them enjoyable to watch. Sitting there watching tonight, my thoughts went to my mother and how she loved Shirley Temple throughout her life.

I remember my parents having an LP around the house of Shirley Temple songs recorded from her films.  There was a time I knew every song and lyric on that album.  From time to time, you might hear me humming or singing one of those old tunes.

I remember Sunday afternoons after church, the family watched Shirley Temple Theater on public television. I don't know how many times I've watched her movies, mostly during my childhood.  I never grew out of enjoying her, as silly as those films can be.  I know she'll always come out on top ~ but I'm rooting for her until the credits roll.

Shirley's movies seem to travel well through time, with the ability to entertain folks young and old from generation to generation.  Katie remarked, "I never saw that one." 

Well, she made a bunch of them.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

still creepy after all these years

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956) still holds up after all these years.  I was just a lad, too young to pick up on the underlying political connotations that people drew from the film.  McCarthyism and Communism was an issue for grown-ups.  I saw it only as a great scare-the-pants-off thriller.  Still, if you want to have an understanding of the concerns and paranoia that obsessed post WWII America ~ you might want to watch this flick. 

Even so, I still enjoy the movie on the surface, as a well executed thriller.  The movie was a low budget film that starts out in a very believable world then quickly propels the protagonist (and the audience) into a high speed roller-coaster ride.

The imagery is stunning.  The props/effects are not elaborate but adequate. Now over a half a century old, the movie still holds together and still thrills.

There have been three adaptations of this film, all of them with larger budgets and more elaborate special effects, but are mere soulless replicas of the original film.

"People began to read meanings into pictures that were never intended. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers is an example of that. I remember reading a magazine article arguing that the picture was intended as an allegory about the communist infiltration of America. From personal knowledge, neither Walter Wanger nor Don Siegel, who directed it, nor Dan Mainwaring, who wrote the script nor original author Jack Finney, nor myself saw it as anything other than a thriller, pure and simple."
~Walter Mirish

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Paradise Cove

The Beach Boy's 'Surfn' Safari' album cover photo was taken on Paradise Cove at Malibu Beach.  Ten years after this photo was taken, James Garner's P.I. character Jim Rockford strolled up and down this very spot in Rockford Files.  Rockford's trailer was situated in the parking of the Sand Castle Restaurant.  The restaurant is still there where Rockford used to frequent ~ only under different management as Paradise Cove Beach Cafe.

There have been many television shows and movies filmed at this very location down through the years. The earliest production I found was 'Belles On Their Toes', a 1952 sequel to the original 'Cheaper By The Dozen'. The sixties rolled around and the Cove became the production locations for a tidal wave of beach films that include Beach Blanket Bingo, Gidget, and Sea Hunt.
The area is still often used as a production site for commercials, television and movies. It's peculiar that there's a trailer park amid all the multi-million dollar homes. I guess if I ever head that way, I'll be keeping my eye out for a '74 Sierra Gold Firebird parked outside one of those trailers on the beach.