Coincidence, Perfect Timing, or Premonition
I was pleasantly surprised today when visiting the Internet to see a 1970 TV clipping–in full color–through my computer screen of a portion of a Bob Hope TV Special celebrating the 4th of July. (Note that my computer screen is bigger than our first few black and white TV’s–which by the way, were first manufactured the year I was born!) And, I just wonder whether its posting was a coincidence, perfect timing, or a premonition on my part. I guess we’ll never really know. But, what makes this video so very special to me is that many of the movie and TV stars appearing in it were my favorites when I was a child. In fact, two nights ago while lying in bed during one of my sleepless modes. I happened to think about the great old western movies, television series, and even the many games of cowboys and Indians that so many of us baby boomers enjoyed playing with our friends and cousins. Of course in our later years, we learned that historians, educators, and the media skewed the real stories to always make Native Americans the villains. (Personally, I always chose to be an Indian vs. the cowboy.)
Our Young Years and Times Were Simpler
But truth is, in our youth, many of us for special occasions received toy six-shooters, cowboy hats, boots, and chaps; and, we also got ritualistic Indian headdresses, bows, and arrows–and I especially loved wearing Indian moccasins.
If you lived on a farm or had one nearby like I did, you could pull a feather from a chicken or a turkey and tuck it under a leather belt wrapped around your head to be a more authentic native. And even get into mama’s makeup and apply some war paint.
Yes, our times were much simpler and we kids knew only of the fun we had playing those games outside. Or how we loved watching television–even shows in black and white and displayed on small fuzzy screens (reception depended on how good our rooftop antenna was). Some of my favorite shows were: Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Bonanza, Rawhide, The Virginian, Little House on the Prairie, and the Big Valley–these are the ones I can remember today off the top of my head.
And, some of our best Saturday evenings were spent at local drive-in movies watching big screen stars in full color through a speaker hanging from a window and receiving scratchy monophonic audio. Let’s see, there was superstar-cowboy John Wayne; tall, elegant, and dignified Gregory Peck; the handsome James Garner;
singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autry; Marshal Matt Dillon, none other than James Arness; and I can’t forget rugged appearing Ward Bond, or funny sidekick cowboy and toothless old man, Gabby Hayes; or the rounded-belly, raspy-voiced Andy Devine.
As the pictures depict below, some of my favorite Indian characters were played by white men. Further evidence that our society had not yet embraced multiculturalism and television or movie producers hadn’t yet opened many of their doors to nonwhites.
The video brought back so many fond memories–yes, of simpler times. Times when Americans were united and had a sense of pride in God and Country, regardless of their race or creed. And, I just loved it when my role models and heroes were dressed in period clothing and gathered to sing God Bless America–which is another tradition dating back to our forefathers that is “under the gun” to be discontinued in our courtrooms, in our pledges of allegiance, on our money, and in our classrooms. hope you enjoy. (And yes, I recognized all their faces and recalled all but one’s name.)