My Ohio Vacation, or How I Lost my Child!!

I grew up in the Northwestern  Ohio city of Defiance, in the flat, farming area of the state.  I can identify soybean fields and corn fields with ease.  The phrase knee high by the 4th of July was burned into my brain! (Farmers want their corn to be that high if it’s going to be a good crop.)   Thanks to a huge glacier thousands of years ago,  riding bikes and hiking in this part of the state  are  an easy hobby to attempt for the outdoor enthusiasts;  no hills, not much anyhow, anywhere.

Corn!

Corn!

Soybean fields

Soybean fields

OH maze

I like to take some time in the summer to visit  my roots.  To visit  my parents, my brother and his wife and their  kids and the relatives  that still live in Ohio.   Dear husband’s mom and brother, and his wife and a married niece and a nephew also live in Ohio.   With our oldest having received his honorable discharge from his 4 year commitment to the United States Marine Corps and his moving to Athens, Ohio to attend Ohio University, this past week was the perfect time to take   our homeschooled youngest with me( youngest is 11 years old) for a week-long visit to Ohio.

We left Rolla on Monday morning at 8:30.  My quest to leave earlier was thwarted by a recalcitrant car battery in my chosen vehicle, husband’s go to work Cadillac.  After he charged and worked on the car, it started right up and we were off.  Driving past St. Louis’s downtown and the Arch, my Ohioan relatives and friends all asked me about the troubles in Ferguson, MO.  Some knew we had lived near there in a neighboring suburb.  One person joked that I had to drive through smoke as all of St. Louis was burning.  Thanks national media for making many across the country think that all of St. Louis was rioting and burning.
Missouri

Illinois

Across Illinois farm country we drove  east.  Living in South Central Missouri, where the Ozark Mountains begin, I tend to forget how flat the flat lands are!  It’s sort of nice to be able to see so far around one in all directions when driving cross country.  When we reached Terre Haute, Indiana(High Land in French, I informed the 11 year old) we had a lunch break and then on we drove, past Indianopolis and then, finally, we crossed the state line into Ohio.

OhioIndiana

The longest part of this drive was getting to Columbus, the state capital, and getting to Highway 33 which would lead us to our destination, Athens, Ohio.  Athens is near West Virginia and the land  is very hilly as it’s along part of the  Appalachian Mountains.  Husband and I are pleased that our son has chosen Ohio University.  It’s nice that our son has relatives right there and  he has it already set up with Grandma to do his laundry at her place;she’s been stocking up on the microwave popcorn!

My parents drove to Athens  from Defiance on Tuesday,  to give my oldest a lounge chair that they didn’t want anymore and he was glad to put it in his new apartment.  After a nice tour of Ohio University’s campus, a steak dinner with my parents, 2 of my sons, and my husband’s  family,  it was on to Defiance on Wednesday morning.

My dad, who does woodworking and house remodeling, wanted to drive north to communities near Wooster, Ohio to pick up wood stain he needed for a woodworking project, and he also wanted to take my sons and I to a restaurant, Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen, which is popular with Amish and non-Amish customers.  We programmed our GPS machines for Wooster  and off we went…my parents in their car, the 11 year old and I in the Cadillac, and my oldest in his Malibu.  We were  puzzled at first because  the GPS’s all had us head south into West Virginia! My  oldest son explained that in order to pick up Interstate 77 when leaving Athens, OH, the closest point to pick it up is in West Virginia, then take it north to your destination.  We stopped to get gas and then headed out, 3 cars caravanning to the Wooster, Ohio area.    West Virginia

25 minutes into our drive north, I asked my 11 year old a question.  I glanced back and assumed he was asleep under his sleeping bag.  He had been stretched out on the back seat with the sleeping bag over him when we stopped for gas in West Virginia.  I asked him another question and still got no response.  I decided to move the sleeping bag and when I did, I discovered that there  was no one in the back seat of the car!!!

Oh did I feel awful!  I knew that he must have gotten out of the car at the gas station back in West Virginia!!  I took the very next exit and using my cell phone, was able to relay to my parents and oldest son that I had accidentally left the 11 year old  at the gas station!!  My parents agreed to wait at that exit, as there were some small stores  nearby that they could explore, and my oldest son followed me back to the gas station.  I was able to use google on my cell phone and get the gas station’s phone number and call them.  They assured me that my son was in their store.  I told them I was on my way back to get him.

As I parked the car and ran into the store, I was expecting my son to be in tears or to be in an angry mood, but he had a big smile on his face!  He  gave me a tight hug and said, ” I knew you’d be back for me, Mom!  Don’t feel bad!”  I thanked the store employees for watching my son and asked my son if he wanted a treat.  “Beef Jerky” was his request and I bought him some.  Then we got back into our cars and drove back to the exit where my parents were waiting for us.   My Dad told my 11 year old  that from now on when traveling with me,  he should always hold my car keys at all rest stops, restaurants, gas stations, etc.!!

We made it to Wooster and the Amish area of Ohio.  We ate a delicious lunch at Mrs. Yoder’s.  We also stopped at a general store popular in the area, The Ashery, where my son picked out salt water taffy for a midweek treat.  He did manage to bring some of it back to Missouri for his older siblings to enjoy!  After a sudden thunderstorm and Amish buggies slowing our trip down a bit, we made it to Defiance by 7:00 that evening.

amish Ohio

The rest of our visit was very nice and it was good to see relatives.  I even was able to meet with some former highschool classmates for lunch one day-a very fun, and very talkative visit!

Sunday came and that meant it was time to drive back to Rolla, Missouri.  Our oldest drove back to Athens for his college classes would begin on Monday.  The youngest son and I listened to a radio preacher,  Pastor Bucus Sterling III at Kettering Baptist Church in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.   Pastor Sterling preached an excellent sermon from the book of Exodus about Moses being on the mountain, the Israelites getting doubtful that Moses would ever return, and their turning to Aaron for an idol to worship.  That sermon helped set the tone for a great day of travel; good weather, good roads, no accidents to slow us down.  We were able to return to Rolla at 5:45 that Sunday evening.

Lessons I learned from this trip are that family is so important.  Keep the lines of communication open via the phone, skype, facebook, but especially try to make the efforts to see loved ones in person, even if it can only be once a year.  When traveling with a child, make sure he or she hangs on to your car keys when stopping for gas, food, restroom breaks, sightseeing trips, etc.!!

 

 

 

My Classic Movie Pick: Marty

Ernest Borgnine, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 95, had a long and successful acting career.  I first saw him when I was a kid watching  reruns of  the situation comedy McHale’s Navy.  My own kids knew him as the voice of Mermaid Man on the silly kids cartoon show, Sponge Bob Square Pants.    Borgnine could play dramatic roles well, often playing a tough guy or bully.  In Marty, my classic movie pick for today, Borgnine got to play a sweetheart of a guy and I think it was closer to his real life persona.  It was a great part for Borgnine and it also won him the 1955 Academy Award for Best Actor.

Marty poster 2

 

Marty Piletti is a 34 year old butcher who lives in the Bronx area of New York City.  He is a hard-worker, who has been saving up his pennies and is thinking about buying the butcher shop from his boss who wants to retire.  Marty wants to  expand the shop into a small supermarket like he’s been reading about.   Marty lives at home with his mom, Teresa, as his other siblings are all married and have families and homes of their own.  He has a group of pals, Angie (nickname for Angelo) being his best buddy.  They often go out as a group to a bar, or to the fights or a wrestling match.  The one thing they have in common is that none of them are married; not one of them has a girlfriend.

Marty and his mom, Teresa

Marty and his mom, Teresa

Marty and Angie, hanging out after work

Marty and Angie, hanging out after work

Marty at work

Marty at work

One day at the butcher shop, some of the female customers tease Marty about getting married. Later at home, during dinner, Marty’s mom begins to pester him about getting married.  She urges him to go to the Stardust Ballroom for the evening because she overheard Marty’s cousin, Tommy, say that the Stardust is full of “tomatoes”!  She keeps on with her badgering, telling Marty that if he doesn’t get married he’ll die without a son!   At that, Marty erupts at his mom, and tells her that he’s a fat, ugly  man and has nothing that women want!   As the evening goes on, Marty decides to go to the Stardust and gets Angie to go with him.

Trying to explain why he's not married yet

Trying to explain why he’s not married yet

At the  Stardust, a man approaches Marty.  He offers to give Marty $5 if he’ll take his blind date off  his hands.  The man smilingly explains that he  has run into a girl he likes much better and that the  blind date is a plain, boring girl.   Marty chastises this man for wanting to dump his date in such a fashion and walks away.  He then learns that the man has  found another to take the $5 and Marty follows this fellow out to the balcony where the blind date  is waiting.  Marty steps in and rescues the girl from the embarrassment of being dumped by her date.  The girl cries on Marty’s shoulder and he shares with her his own experiences of being “dumped” by dates.  The girl agrees to dance with Marty and tells him that her name is Clara Snyder, a 29 year old chemistry teacher from Brooklyn, who still lives at home with her parents.   Pretty soon, Marty and Clara are having a nice time, dancing with one another, and then they leave the Stardust for a bite of food and some coffee at a local diner and continue to talk and get to know one another.   Marty even brings her by his home to meet his mom!  After that meeting, Marty escorts Clara to her house and they both agree that they like one another, that the date turned out great, and that they both want to see each other the next night, perhaps they’ll go to a movie.  Marty promises to call Clara on Sunday.

Dancing with Clara

Dancing with Clara

Consoling Clara about being dumped

Consoling Clara about being dumped

Walking and talking the night away

Walking and talking the night away

Clara meeting Mom

Clara meeting Mom

Two more sub-plots give Marty more stress in his life.  One, his Aunt Catherine lives with her son, Tommy and his family.  Tommy’s wife, Virginia, and his mother, Aunt Catherine, dislike each other and that makes for a lousy home to live in.  Tommy pleads with Marty and Aunt Teresa to invite Aunt Catherine to live with them.  After Aunt Catherine moves in, she tells her sister, Teresa, that if Marty ever marries, what will happen to her?  Will she, Teresa, be kicked out of her home by Marty and his new wife?  This negative thought creates in Teresa a skepticism and coldness when she meets Clara for the first time.  Second, Angie feels threatened by the fact that Marty could have found love and if he marries, it will break up their brotherhood, break up their friendship.  Angie cruelly tells their pals that Marty wants to date a real “dog”.

Cousin Tommy and his wife, Virginia

Cousin Tommy and his wife, Virginia

With these two added stressers in his life, Marty hesitates to call Clara back and she, in turn, grows despondent as she watches Sunday night television with her parents, assuming she’s been dumped again by a man.

Clara convinced that Marty won't call her back

Clara convinced that Marty won’t call her back

Will Marty call Clara?  Will Marty be able to get mom to accept Clara?  Will Tommy, Virginia, and Aunt Catherine have a better relationship?  Will Angie learn to like Clara?  To find out the answers to these questions, you have to seek out Marty and view it for yourself!

Marty is available to purchase or instant rent via Amazon.   Marty is also available to buy via Turner Classic Movies shop.  Several clips from Marty have also been put up on Youtube.   For a sweet, lovely film that isn’t afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve and shows a realistic look at searching for love, check out Marty, soon!

Borgnine with is Best Actor Oscar, and Grace Kelly

Borgnine with his Best Actor Oscar, and Grace Kelly

Directed by Delbert Mann, Produced by Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster, Screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky, United Artists, 89 minutes.

Cast: Marty-Ernest Borgnine, Clara-Betsy Blair, Mom(Teresa)-Esther Minciotti, Angie-Joe Mantell, Aunt Catherine-Augusta Ciolli,Tommy-Jerry Paris, Virginia-Karen Steele.  Marty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Death and Riots and Looting, in my Former Community

Readers of my blog may remember that my family moved to Rolla, Missouri 3 years ago, in June of 2011 due to my husband finding a new job here after a 16 month lay-off.  We moved to Rolla  from Florissant, Missouri, where we had lived for 19 years.  Florissant  is the largest suburb of North St. Louis County, 25 minutes north of the Gateway Arch, is what I usually told our relatives.

St. Louis's Gateway Arch

St. Louis’s Gateway Arch

Sunday night after we got home from a  Family Night at  Splashzone, hosted by our church, Greentree Christian, I turned on the news  to catch the weather report for Monday and I learned that Ferguson, Missouri, the suburb just to the south of Florissant, was having riots!  People were looting stores along West Florissant Ave.- a major thoroughfare that connects these two suburbs.  My husband and I were in utter shock at the scenes that were being shown on the tv.  We learned that a QT(QuikTrip for you non-Missourians,  is the most awesome gas station/convenience store ever known to man) was looted and set on fire and that when I awoke on Monday I learned that it had burned to the ground!  Thankfully, the employees saw the looters coming and were able to hide in a back room and then escape; they first  put on spare jackets they found in that back room to  hide the fact that they were wearing QT shirts, and then they  got out and ran to safety as the building was being set on fire!

The QT on West Florissant Ave., Ferguson, MO set on fire by looters.

The QT on West Florissant Ave., Ferguson, MO set on fire by looters.

QT

 

 

 

 

Why all of this mayhem, violence, and destruction?  It stemmed from the death of a black teenager, 18 year old  Michael Brown,  who lived in the neighboring suburb of Normandy, Missouri,  who was shot by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday, August 9th, at 2:15 pm.  There are conflicting accounts as to what exactly happened and St. Louis County Police have been called in to conduct the investigation for the Ferguson Police Department.   I also heard today  a report that the FBI has also been called in and that the US Justice Department will be keeping a watch on the investigation’s outcome.

A tragedy playing out in Ferguson, Missouri.  A community of 21,000, mostly middle-class Americans who work hard, want their children to be educated, for their children to grow up and reach their potential in life.  A community that was started in 1894 by a Mr. William B. Ferguson, as a train station for the Wabash Railroad.  In 1904, a streetcar line was installed that led from Ferguson to the city of St. Louis and this helped the train station town expand, becoming one of the first suburbs in St. Louis County.    A usually peaceful community, known for a really nice Farmer’s Market, some great parks, Victorian houses, and now known for utter violence and chaos.

I got onto facebook last night and the posts from friends who live in Ferguson were sad and scary.  Many had  a sleepless night. Merely one or two or three blocks from West Florissant Ave., where the looters were doing their evil deeds,  are many neighborhoods, inhabited by innocent citizens who could hear the looters, the gunshots being fired, and then the police sirens and the  helicopters flying overheard, shining lights into their backyards.  Florissant friends were on facebook offering to let friends in Ferguson, if they felt it was safe to even leave their homes, to come and stay with them overnight.  Friends in St. Charles County, where the Missouri River meets the mighty Mississippi, were offering their homes,too,  as havens from the violence and danger.

With the dawn of Monday morning, the damaged buildings were like an open wound in the community; broken glass lying in the stores, and across their thresholds, goods ransacked and gone, the QT smoldering, even the WalMart that I used to shop at was looted, probably only an 8 minute drive from our first home in Florissant!

Sunday night, Aug. 10th, protesters yelling at police, prior to the riots and looting.

Sunday night, Aug. 10th, protesters yelling at police, prior to the riots and looting.

One Ferguson business wasn't harmed as the owner and employees put up a human barricade.

One Ferguson business wasn’t harmed as the owner and employees put up a human barricade.

 The QT on the morning of Monday, Aug. 11th, Ferguson, MO

The QT on the morning of Monday, Aug. 11th, Ferguson, MO

I feel very sad and disheartened by all of what has transpired these past 2 days.  Someone posted on facebook a passage from the bible, 2Timothy 3: 1-5: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people  turn away!”  I read that passage  and thought it an apt description of those that decided to take advantage of what was meant to be a peaceful vigil on Sunday night, in honor of Michael Brown and turn it into the worst possible thing: to turn it into a night of violence, selfishness, and destruction.  Even Michael Brown’s family issued a statement pleading with  the looters to stop and go home, but that plea fell on deaf ears.

Tonight, a meeting was held in Ferguson with religious leaders in the community, the local NAACP chapter, and concerned citizens.  I didn’t watch the meeting as it wasn’t aired live to Rolla area tv stations as it was to those in St. Louis area proper, so I will have to tune in to the news tonight for reactions to the meeting.  I did learn that the Galleria, an upscale St. Louis Mall shut down early tonight due to fights breaking out there!

Please pray for Ferguson, Missouri not just for today but for the days to come.  Pray for the family of slain teenager, Michael Brown, that they will be able to get the answers that they are seeking about their son’s tragic death.  Pray for the Ferguson police officer who shot Michael.  Pray for the mayor, city council, religious leaders, civil rights leaders.  Pray for the law enforcement employees from all over the St. Louis region who have been called in for back up to help Ferguson’s police department.  For all of these groups, pray for wisdom, discernment,protection, a spirit of community to grow again, for there to be brotherly love again, and forgiveness, and for peace for Ferguson, Missouri.  Thank you.

Women praying in Ferguson, MO

Women praying in Ferguson, MO

Sign at a protest in Ferfuson, MO

Sign at a protest in Ferguson, MO

My Classic Movie Pick: Come Live With Me

Hedy Lamarr has a problem and  it has to do with immigration!!  It’s 1941, the Nazis are invading Europe and Hedy(Johnny Jones(why Johnny is her name is never explained…nickname for Johanna???), has managed to flee Austria  to live in  the United States.  Johnny is settled in NYC in a gorgeous apartment as she is the new  love interest of a married publisher, Mr. Bart Kendricks(Ian Hunter), who is in what is termed an “Open Marriage”.    His wife, Diana(Verree Teasdale) has dinner and dancing evenings planned out almost every night with some new guy in her life, so why shouldn’t  Bart pursue the beautiful Viennese refugee and pay for her gorgeous apartment?  Johnny’s problem arises  one evening when the Immigration Office sends an investigator(Barton MacLane), over who tells Johnny that her temporary 3 month visa has expired.  She’ll have to be deported.  Johnny, with tear-filled eyes, pleads with the investigator  and at the sight of such a beautiful damsel in distress, the investigator has a change of heart.  He tells Johnny that  if she can get married in one week to an American guy, then she can remain.

Johnny with Bart at her apartment.

Johnny with Bart at her apartment.

 

CLWM poster 1

James Stewart has a problem too.  He’s Bill Smith, a guy from a rural hamlet in New York state, trying to make it as a great writer in NYC.  He’s had rejection slip after slip after slip in his mailbox and he’s sitting in a park commiserating with the delightful Donald Meek(playing a bum who may not really be a bum!), as to how life as a bum is really not too bad.

Stewart, aka Bill, discussing the bum life with Donald Meek.

Stewart, aka Bill, discussing the bum life with Donald Meek.

A sudden thunderstorm drives Bill to the nearest diner where he just happens to meet Johnny Jones.  The wheels of an idea begin to turn in Johnny’s lovely head and pretty soon she is in Bill’s hovel of an apartment, asking him to marry her, so that she can stay in America.  Bill is stunned, but decides to agree since Johnny says she will pay him a weekly stipend as a way to thank him for marrying  her.  Bill has her add us his budgeted purchases for a week and the weekly check she gives him will be for $17.80.

Hey!  He just might marry me!!

Hey! He just might marry me!!

Telling Bill her plan for a marriage of convenience.

Telling Bill her plan for a marriage of convenience.

Bill hits upon a new writing idea, he’ll write about this marriage of convenience and it proves a popular book idea, especially to Diana Kendricks. who helps husband Bart run Kendricks Publishing.  She contacts Bill and invites him to their headquarters.   She informs Bart about this new book, about  the new writer, and Bart deduces  that Bill has married Johnny!  He is worried that Bill might steal her away from him, so after Bill receives a $500 check from the publishers, Bart decides to find out where Bill will be going that day.

 The book deal from the Kendricks's.


The book deal from the Kendricks’s.

Bill decides to buy a new car, pick up Johnny, and off they’ll go to visit his grandmother.  Johnny had asked Bill for a divorce so she could then be free to marry Bart, but Bill, who has fallen in love with Johnny, tells her that first she must go on a trip with him for the weekend, so they can get to know one another, and then, if she still wants the divorce, he’ll give her one.

Driving to Grandmother's

Driving to Grandmother’s

At grandma's garden, in the moonlight.

At grandma’s garden, in the moonlight.

This movie is a light-hearted, fun way to while away 85 minutes.  James Stewart is very believable as the bewildered and then lovestruck Bill.  Hedy Lamarr is great as the take charge kind of gal that has to decide which man she will be with.  The supporting cast is good and they give strong performances.  Verree Teasdale gives her character a sophisticated wisdom and a hint of  a forgiving spirit as she may take Bart back and quit her boyfriend of the week club.   Ian Hunter, who I had only seen before in the Shirley Temple film The Little Princess, as Sarah Crewe’s father, has a way with comedic scenes that was very good to view.  Adeline de Walt Reynolds is cute as Grandmother, who doesn’t know the full story about Johnny and Bill;she thinks they are just dating, but she gives Johnny good advice when Bart decides to crash the weekend plans.  There is also a cute anecdote about lightening bugs and how and why the males and females flash those lighted ends of their bodies.

Directed and produced by Clarence Brown, distributed by MGM, screenplay by Patterson McNutt from a story by Virginia Van Upp. try to find this little gem of a romance comedy.  Come Live With Me is available at TCM’s Shop, it’s available to purchase through Amazon, and it is shown from time to time on Turner Classic Movies(TCM).  So keep your eyes on their schedule!

I’ll end this post with a few more publicity shots for the film.

Another example of the paper cut outs for the opening credits.

An example of the paper cut outs for the opening credits.

Hedy and Jimmy breaking the 4th wall!

Hedy and Jimmy breaking the 4th wall!

nteresting overhead shot of the two bedrooms Bill and Johnny use at Grandma's house.  There is a space over the shared wall so they can whisper to each other.

An overhead shot of the two bedrooms Bill and Johnny use at Grandma’s house. There is a space over the shared wall so they can whisper to each other.

MGM publicity shot

MGM publicity shot

Paper cut-outs used to make the movie's opening credits.

Paper cut-outs used to make the movie’s opening credits.

Missing Person: Find Lynn Messer

Today’s blog is a public service announcement.

Here are the facts:  Early on the morning of July 8th, at 4 am, Mr. Kerry Messer awoke to find his wife gone.   At 8:00 am, the St. Genevieve County sheriff’s department was contacted by the Messer family to report Mrs. Messer, Lynn, as missing. No vehicles were missing from the home, Lynn had left behind her purse, cell phone, house keys,  and a medical boot that she had been wearing for her broken toe.  St. Genevieve County sheriff’s department, along with search teams and rescue dogs from Eureka, MO and 50 people and dogs from St. Louis Regional Response Team, which is part of Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Troop C, conducted a massive search of the Messer family’s farm, 270 acres and surrounding land in St. Genevieve County.

Lynn Messer is 52 years old.  Her height is 5’2″. weight is 160 lbs.  She has long, greying blonde hair.

Lynn Messer

Lynn Messer

According to law enforcement, there were no signs of a forced entry into the Messer’s home, no signs of an abduction.  Lynn Messer has no history of dementia and she was taking some pain medication.   She had been at church on July 6th and those who had contact with her on that day said she seemed fine, her normal self.  The same was said by those who worked with her on July 7th at her church’s first day of Vacation Bible School, at First Baptist Church of Festus-Crystal City, MO.  Later that day, she was busy making crafts for the next day of VBS and discussing the varied activities she was planning on accomplishing on July 8th.

Now it is August 5th and there has still been no sign of Lynn Messer.  The family has printed off hundreds of missing person flyers, they have launched a Find Lynn Messer Facebook page, and 3 time’s a day, volunteers have been going out searching the countryside near the Messer family’s farm, for Lynn.   I thought to myself, that I couldn’t even begin to imagine the grief and pain the Messer family is going through.  Since my little blog is posted for the online version of the  Rolla Daily News, which is owned by Gatehouse Media, Inc.,  my blog is also posted online  in other Missouri  newspapers that are also owned by  Gatehouse.   I decided to make this public announcement and plea, as a way to help in the search for Lynn,to help in getting the information about Lynn Messer to other parts of the state.

If you have the time and want to volunteer to help in a search, please go to the Find Lynn Messer Facebook page for more information; how to sign up for a search, the times, etc.   If that isn’t possible, the other way to help is to pray, pray, pray, and pray some more.  The Messer family has a strong faith in God and the prayers of others have helped them as they struggle on each day in the search for Lynn, a very much loved wife, mother of 2 grown sons, and a beloved grandmother.   Here is a link to the missing persons poster that the Messer family has been posting in their area of MO; St. Genevieve County is in eastern MO, and part of it borders the Mississippi River.

I want to acknowledge the following news articles  that I used in gathering the information for today’s  blog: Clementine Carbery, St. Genevieve Herald, July 9th, 2014 article, Don Hinkle, The Pathway, July 17, 2014 article.

 

My Classic Movie Pick: Kes

This post is for The British Invaders Blogathon, a weekend look at classic British films that have had a lasting impact on popular culture here and across the pond.   Hosted by blogger Shroud of Thoughts, be sure to check his site to find the links to the various movies and bloggers who have written about them. The British Invaders Blogathon banner In America, there are three movies about a  boy and an animal that influences his life and forces him to face changes that are not wanted or expected.  The Yearling, Old Yeller, and Free Willy are the three films I can instantly recall that follow that storyline.  It would be pretty arrogant to think that only we Americans could make such  films.   In 1969, the British film industry released  such a film: Kes.   Kes movie poster In 1968,  teacher Barry Hines wrote a novel, A Kestral for a Knave.  The book impressed director Ken Loach and with his producer Tony Garnett, and Woodfall Film Productions, Hines’s novel was turned into the film, Kes. The protagonist of Kes is 15 year old Billy Casper.  He is a slight, thin boy.  With pale skin, blue eyes, and brown hair.  He hardly ever smiles and no wonder!  Dad has left the family.  Mum works long hours at her job and is trying to find a new man.  Older half-brother, Judd, is employed at the local “pit” or coal mine, and he is a brute to Billy.  Billy often sits silently in the home as Mum and Judd yell at one another.  School is just a place Billy has to go to and at least he gets to see his mates(friends) there.  Many of the teachers are grumpy and seeing how some of them treat Billy and his classmates it made me wonder if those educators were the inspiration for British rock band Pink Floyd‘s We Don’t Need No Education!  Life is dreary, and Billy just ambles along, trying to get along, and the only thing he knows for sure is that he doesn’t want to end up in the pit like so many of the men in his Yorkshire community.

Row houses in Billy's Yorkshire town.

Row houses in Billy’s Yorkshire town.

The Pit, or coal mine, where Billy doesn't want to ever work.

The Pit, or coal mine, where Billy doesn’t want to ever work.

One afternoon, Billy takes a walk through a local woods, throws pieces of wood into a pool of water, and enters a farmer’s pasture.  On the farmer’s land are the remnants of an old stone building-I immediately wondered if it was from a former castle or abbey.  Billy  observes kestrals(birds in the Falcon family) flying back and forth in the sky.  Billy sees that they have a nest high up in the stone wall.  As he walks to the old wall, the farmer with his little girl in tow, sees Billy and orders him off of his land.  Billy tells him about the kestrals nesting there and  the farmer is intrigued.  He warns Billy that the wall is very old and that he won’t let his daughter play near it.  He bemuses aloud to Billy that if one were able to get a kestral one could train it and pursue falconry.   After the farmer and his daughter leave, Billy climbs up the wall, puts his hand into the nesting area, and catches himself a kestral.

Billy and the farmer examining the stone wall and the kestrals.

Billy and the farmer examining the stone wall and the kestrals.

With lovely music created by John Cameron-often simple flutes that made me think of medieval court music, and cinematography by Chris Menges, we observe Billy in the Yorkshire countryside, training his bird, which he names Kes.  We also see Billy showing Kes to interested townspeople as he takes her into a crowded business area to get her used to staying on his gloved hand and not to fly off in fear.     Kes training 3Kes training 2 Billy begins training Kes. We do get to see a  bully-ish PE teacher that is too caught up in the football(soccer)game he is trying to teach the boys. Billy earns this teacher’s wrath due to  not having the PE clothing kit  as Billy’s mom can’t afford it’s cost.  Billy has to make do with extra PE clothes that are much too big for him, he fails in being the goalie, he gets bored during the game and decides to climb on the goal posts like they’re monkey bars, and for all of that business,  the teacher forces Billy to take a cold shower.  However, the English teacher, Mr. Farthing, is a caring teacher and takes an interest in Billy.  He encourages Billy, in a class discussion about Fact or Fiction, to create a factual story for the class and Billy opens up and shares about his kestral and all of the training he has done with the bird in the art of falconry.  Later, it is this same teacher, with Billy’s permission, who comes out to the pasture to watch Billy work with  Kes.

The mean PE teacher who deserves Worst Teacher in the World Award!!

The mean PE teacher who deserves Worst Teacher in the World Award!!

 Billy telling his class about Kes.

Billy telling his class about Kes.

Billy telling Mr. Farthing what he's learned about falconry and kestrals.

Billy telling Mr. Farthing what he’s learned about falconry and kestrals.

Kes Mr, Farthing The main antaganist of the film is Judd, Billy’s older half-brother.  He thinks himself a ladies man, but doesn’t seem to have had much luck in finding a girlfriend.  He works in the pit  and  spends his earnings on cigarettes, booze, and betting on the horses.  He is critical of his mother and lets her know his opinions as to how she is ruining her life and his life.  He doesn’t have enough money saved up to move out on  his own, so he ‘s stuck in the family home where he clearly doesn’t want to be.  One afternoon, he leaves a note and some money for Billy.  The note tells Billy to go to the local bookmaker’s and to  put the money down on two horses for a race that will happen that day.  Billy does as the note directs him to do, but the bookkeeper tells Billy that  the two horses Judd wants to bet on are worthless.   Billy leaves the bookkeeper’s and spends the money on fish and chips for himself, and some meat for Kes.   Judd finds out later in the day that one of the two horses actually won a race and  that Billy didn’t put any of the money down on that bet.  Judd is very angry and goes to the school looking for Billy, telling Billy’s friends that when he finds him, he’ll kill him.  Billy manages to hide in the janitor’s workroom.  When he does reach home, there is a yelling match between Billy, Judd, and their Mum because of a tragic and evil deed that has been done.

Judd-the worst big brother ever!!

Judd-the worst big brother ever!!

 Judd and Mum

Judd and Mum

When Kes first hit screens in Great Britain, it didn’t become an overnight sensation but through word of mouth, it’s audiences grew and now it is ranked #7 in the British Film Institutes Top Ten British Films list.

It didn’t fare well at all on it’s release to American audiences and that was due to the heavy Yorkshire accents.  I watched the film on Youtube, and I wish there had been subtitles!  Yes, these people are speaking English, but the accent is so heavy that the only people in the movie I could understand without straining my ears were the teachers.

One other small caveat, if  you are thinking about showing this film to your kids, I would recommend waiting until your kids have turned 13, at least.  There is nudity in the boys locker room after the boys are cleaning up from the PE class-not a ton-but it is there.

The Criterion Collection has it on a blu-ray dvd that came out in 2011, Amazon is also selling the Criterion dvd or you can view it on their instant rent.

Director Ken Loach wanted to use locals from the Barnsley area of Northern England, and he also wanted actors who could easily speak in the Yorkshire dialect.  He found them: David Bradley as Billy, Lynne Perrie as Mum, Freddie Fletcher as Judd, Brian Glover as the mean PE teacher, and Colin Welland as Mr. Farthing.  Incidentally, Welland won an Academy Award for his screenplay for Chariots of Fire!

I can’t say enough wonderful things about young David Bradley who plays Billy.  It was his first acting role in a movie and he really had to learn to train a kestral for hunting.  He conveys the sadness Billy feels, but is also able  to convey to the audience  a boy who has tenacity, who will keep on going in life no matter how bleak it might be.   So, if you want to see a British film that is highly thought of in Great Britain, seek out Kes.

Here is an original trailer for Kes, and I think the narraration was supplied by late actor, Richard Burton.

 

 

My Classic Movie Pick: Support Your Local Sheriff

With actor James Garner passing away recently I knew I had to write my blog for Friday about one of his movies.  Garner was good at dramas, but I especially liked his performances in comedies and thus my choice, Support Your Local Sheriff.

Support Your Local Sheriff

The film begins with the good people of Calendar, Colorado attending a funeral.  As the mourners gather around the grave, Prudence Perkins( the lovely Joan Hackett), known as Prudy, sees gold sparkling in the grave and she jumps in to stake a claim for the gold!  Townsfolk run to find their shovels and picks and  begin digging.   More gold is found  and soon there’s a gold rush on in the formerly tiny, quiet town.

Prudy’s dad, Olly(Harry Morgan), is  the mayor and he has two major problems: 1.  The richest  family in the area, the Danby’s, control the road that people have to take to leave Calendar.  The Danby’s have decided to demand an  exorbitant amount of gold from the citizens and visitors in order to let them use that road.  2.  The sheriff is gunned down by the Danby’s and so are the other 2 replacements.  Calendar is now a rowdy, lawless place, and Mayor Perkins’s at a loss about solving these problems until a stranger arrives in town.

Walter Brennan, leader of the baddies, is Pa Danby

Walter Brennan, leader of the baddies, is Pa Danby

Prudy and her dad, Mayor Perkins

Prudy and her dad, Mayor Perkins

Jason McCullough is just passing through on his way to the coast and a boat to Australia.  While at the saloon, he realizes he needs to get a job to earn some money in order to pay the road toll and he sees Joe Danby(Bruce Dern) shoot  a man for no reason.  Jason is able to impress the Mayor and other civic leaders with his gun skills and he accepts the job of sheriff.  His first task is to arrest Joe Danby, who isn’t too smart, and puts him in jail.  Unfortunately, the jail is newly built and the bars haven’t been installed yet so Jason draws a chalk line and red paint and psychological mind games in order to keep Joe in the jail!  Jason also hires the town drunk, Jake( the always great Jack Elam), to be his deputy.

Jason likes Prudy so why not start to court her?

Jason likes Prudy so why not start to court her?

Bruce Dern as dimwitted Joe Danby

Bruce Dern as dimwitted Joe Danby

 

Calendar settles down, the townspeople like the new sheriff and so does Prudy.    However, Pa Danby(Walter Brennan), the patriarch of the Danby  clan, hates the new sheriff and vows to have him killed and get Joe out of  jail.  Danby gathers  hired guns to take out Jason, whom the civic leaders and Mayor have informed  that he is on his own when he takes on the Danbys.     Prudy and Jake valiantly decide to help Jason against the baddies coming to town.  All ends well and Jason and Prudy ride off into the sunset with a Happily Ever After ending.

They all lived Happily Ever After

They all lived Happily Ever After

Jason uses a cannon to outwit the hired guns

Jason uses a cannon to outwit the hired guns

Support Your Local Sheriff was made in 1969 and it was a meant to be a  comedy/western.  Directed by Burt Kennedy and produced by William Bowers, who also wrote the screenplay.   James Garner was also the executive producer on the film.

For a fun look at the traditional western with a professional  and spunky cast,  seek out this film!  One can’t help but imagine that the cast and crew probably had a blast making this entertaining film.   It is available to rent or purchase through Amazon, it is on a 3-dvd set available to buy from TCM Shop, and here is a trailer for the movie that audiences would have seen in 1969.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 73 other followers