2007-06-30 / Viewpoints

Through An 'Old Timer's' Eyes

By Howard 'Mac' McDonald

Now that "The Duke," John Wayne, is gone and Clint Eastwood and Robert Duvall are over the hill, it looks like we are hitting a dry spell before we see another good western movie. Maybe us old folks just have to get used to the good things in our lives disappearing.

I really like John Wayne's portrayal of Rooster Cogburn and my favorite movie of his was "True Grit."

The Duke was born Marion Robert Morrison on May 25, 1907. He starred in more westerns and war movies than I could count.

Channel 63 of the local cable system carries reruns of the old "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza" TV series. I always felt sorry for Marshal Matt Dillon's horse in Gunsmoke. If the horse could talk like Mr. Ed, it would probably say, "Oh, no, here comes that big dude again."

Hoss Cartwright in Bonanza was no lightweight, either. Hoss was played by Dan Blocker. My friend Ken Hovis has the saddle that Hoss used on that show.

And then there was Ken Curtis, who played the role of Festus Haggen, deputy marshal of Dodge City, on Gunsmoke. He was one of the original Sons of the Pioneers. They sang in just about all of the singing cowboy movies. Their rendition of "Water" used to really make me thirsty.

For 11 cents, you could go see a double-feature at the Princess Theater in Donora. To keep you coming back every Saturday, they had a serial featuring Don Winslow of the U.S. Navy. You always returned to see him battle the world's worst villain, "The Scorpion."

My dad used to say that they showed so many westerns on the weekend that they had to close the theater on Monday to shovel out all the horse manure. Popcorn cost 10 cents, soda pop cost a nickel and a candy bar was also five cents. For a quarter, you'd get four hours of entertainment with not one cuss word. That's not so in this day and age.

After a Saturday afternoon at the Princess, we had enough lore to play cowboys all week long. Sometimes we had a pretty good scuffle to see who was going to be the good guy. We finally got smart and drew straws.

One time I was playing a rustler and my brother and his gang caught me. A rustler's fate was hanging, so that's just what they proceeded to do. It's a good thing the baler twine was rotten. With all my kicking

and thrashing

around, the twine broke. I had rope burn all around my neck. When my mother saw that, she took out after those boys with her broom. I had a scab collar for

about a week.

I'll miss old Jackson, the greeter dog who belonged to Bobbie at Furniture for Less. He was a purebred

pug dog with the

personality of a refined gentleman.

The poor thing got out of the house, ran into the street and was struck by a car.

The other day I came out of the office and there was a large convoy of Halliburton trucks barreling down Fourth Street. Based on our Vice President's connections with that company, I felt like pulling a dastardly deed but I restrained myself.

I am not a fan of VP Cheney or his boss. Halliburton has profited to the tune of millions of dollars from the war. Shame on them.

Northcentral Pennsylvania seems to be overrun with motorcycles this summer. The dry weather sure does bring them in. The roar of the Harley pipes echo down the valleys and everyone seems to be having a good time.

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