Archive for July, 2014

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.


I Survived Preteen 2 Camp

July 13th arrived and that afternoon, with my 11 year old and 16 year old sons in tow, we boarded one of  our church’s vans for a 91 mile drive north, then east, to High Hill Camp, in High Hill, MO.   I and the 16 year old had volunteered to work at the Preteen 2(fancy wording meaning 5th & 6th graders) Camp.  As soon as we arrived  and I climbed out of the van, I began to think to myself, “I’m getting to old for this!”    High Hill

Fortunately, I was assigned to a bunk room in McKinzie Hall with a friend from Florissant, as our former church there had also sent campers and adults whom I knew.  That was a nice surprise and those Florissant 5th and 6th graders remembered me when I had taught them Sunday School when they were 5 year olds.  It made me feel old to now see them at ages 10 and 11, but that’s life.  It  moves on year by year and kids grow.  I am sure they noticed the grey hair that I sported which I didn’t have when they were 5! That grey hair also got me pulled into a Scavenger Hunt of sorts when the camp’s dean for the week, challenged the campers to find the camp staff who had taught him when he was in Sunday School at his church in Wentzville, MO.  I had to turn many a puzzled campers away with a No! when they asked me if I had been the dean’s teacher.

As I got my bunk ready and my gear unpacked, I kept thinking, “I’m getting too old for this!”  At bedtime, in trying to get 11 girls to stop giggling and talking, as it was now nearing 10:45 pm and they had to get up at 7:00 am, I kept thinking, “I’m getting too old for this!”  The 11 girls in my dorm noticed that the next door bathrooms had been redone with nicely, newer tiles than our bathroom and reluctantly we had to tell our girls that they couldn’t shower in the newer bathroom.  Gritting my teeth, I understood why they wanted to use the newer shower stalls. As I looked at the showers we’d have to use all week, not in terrible shape but showing their age, I thought, “I’m getting too old for this!”

High Hill's main building

High Hill’s main building

Coffee readily flowed for the staffers as soon as we were ready for the dayand that  helped get Monday off to a great start.  Little events all week helped to make me realize that maybe I’m not too old to help out at a Preteen Camp.  My two co-leaders and I were assigned to Family #4.  My two co-leaders  were much younger than I and they tried to be all buddy-buddy with the 11 campers assigned to us; 7 girls and 4 boys  I was a bit sterner with our group, as they needed to stay on task and on time as we had a lot of activities to complete each day, completing some before lunch and some before the swimming break, and some before dinner.  I noticed that by Wednesday that my 2 younger camp staffers were growing more irritated by the immaturity of some of our 11 campers and that the buddy-buddy, hey I’m cool act was not the way to work with or motivate 5th and 6th graders.  When one of our girls injured her leg during the traditional faculty hunt( camp staffers donned black clothing, hats, some even put black marks under their eyes like NFL players do, then we go and hide somewhere at the camp and when it’s dark the campers are let loose to find us) and my two younger camp staffers were no where to be found due to their hiding skills, so it was I who our kids turned to to help the girl make it to the nurse.  I stayed with her and helped to ease her pain, and give her comfort as the nurse made phone calls to discuss with her guardian as to what she would want us to do: give medicine and wait until morning to see how her camper felt, or arrive in the morning to take her home to see the family doctor.  By the next morning, I noticed that the kids who had first wanted to sit with the two cool staffers on my Family #4 group were now wanting to sit by me.  That made me feel not so out of it, and a bit pleased; guess the word got out how I stayed with their hurt fellow camper.

The meals at camp were very good-they hired a full-time  trained chef this summer, as well as another cook.  I hope the kids noticed the satisfying and tasty food that was prepared for them.  The music was fine-geared to preteens and the high school and college-aged camp staffers.  Me with my grey hair, didn’t know some of the songs and decided to clap along to those and rest my voice.  The lead band guy looked like a cross between actors James Franco and Joshua Bowman-an actor on ABC’s Revenge, so of course, some of the 6th grade girls kept making excuses to talk to him all week.   I sent my college age daughter a text about that fact and she sent back a text with an LOL-she said that’s usually what happens at camp, the girls all falling for the boy band leader.

High Hill's Lake, but to me, it's really a large pond.

High Hill’s Lake, but to me, it’s really a large pond.

There was also cases of puppy love developing around me as for some unknown reason, the 4 boys in my Family #4, had been dubbed the “cutest” by some of the boy-crazy girl campers and I noticed one girl in particular, hanging around the Fab Four when it was the daily 3:00-5:00 activity break time.  I just shook my head as to that girl’s antics.  She was quite a few inches taller than those boys but it didn’t prevent her from  flirting like mad with our group of 11 year old boys.

The weather was wonderfully cool for our week: 70s and low 80s during the daytime, low 50s at night.  Unheard of for Missouri in July, as it’s usually hot and humid.  I was glad that I had packed a jacket and had reminded my own 11 year old and 16 year old to also pack jackets.

I got to see my 16 year old son in action.  He did well working  with his Family #10.   He willingly led the group in two songs.  One was when he was mockingly punished for leaving his water bottle lay around camp-at lunch he had to perform I’m a Little Teapot for the campers, who when he told them he didn’t know the words, they all enthusiastically jumped in and helped him sing the song!  The second time he was helping lead a fun song, The Banana Song, when another staffer was mockingly being punished for leaving his name tag lay around the camp.  I saw my son in action as he easily got 150 some kids to get quiet, took charge of the song, and then led them through it with all of the song’s motions.  I also saw my son take his turn with one of the boy’s in his Family group who had asthma, help to cheer the boy up at various times, as he had to leave activities for his treatments, which he didn’t want to always take.

There was a young woman at the camp, a missionary to Haiti.  Her daily presentations about Haiti, the people, and the minister and his wife whom she works with were all fascinating.  Our campers got to make a toy like the Haitian kids do.  Since they don’t have access to toy stores they will take used water bottles, a nail, string, a stick, and 4 water bottle caps and make a car that they can pull along behind them with the string.  I hope that our campers remember at home when they see their water bottle car that their lives in the US are vastly different from the children in Haiti.  I hope that they will remember the money we raised for the missionary’s mission and that perhaps one day, they will be the ones to listen to the urgings God places in their lives to go and serve others, to show them love, and to not be afraid to tell them the truth of the gospel.

Am I getting too old for this?  Too old for camping with a bunch of 10-11 year olds?  Almost old enough to being their grandparent?  Part of me says yes, part of me says no.  I do know that I enjoy teaching kids and helping them learn more about their faith.  Perhaps I will return next year and if I do, I know I’ll survive it all over again.

My Classic Movie Pick: Sergeant Rutledge

Today’s post is for the  John Ford Blogathon.  If you aren’t too familiar with John Ford, he was a film director and considered one of the best in his field.  This blogathon is being hosted by Krell Laboratories  and Bemused and Nonplussed.  Be sure to visit those two blogs to read more great posts about director John Ford and about his movies.


JF Blogathon

Ford directed many movies and he began his career during the silent movie era and continued to direct until 1976.  I’ve included his info from IMDB if you want to read more about his rich movie-making  career.

In 1960 he directed a simple film, simple that it wasn’t one of his storied long films.  Simple in that the plot was very straightforward.  Simple in that the lead actors weren’t his usual well-knowns, such as John Wayne, Henry Fonda, or Maureen O’Hara.  The film I chose to write about is Sergeant Rutledge.  Its main stars were Woody Strode, Jeffrey Hunter, and Constance Towers.  Sgt. Rutledge poster 1

Sergeant Rutledge is set in the west of the 1880s and it  tells its tale mostly through a series of flashbacks.  Sergeant Braxton  Rutledge( Woody Strode)  is a member of the 9th Calvary, which was also nicknamed the Buffalo soldiers; made up entirely of black men serving their country.   The movie opens  in a courtroom because Sergeant Rutledge is on trial.  The trial is a court-martial for  Sergeant Rutledge and he   has been accused of two horrific crimes: the murder of his Commanding Officer, Major Dabney, and  the rape and murder of Dabney’s teen daughter.

There is a lot of circumstantial evidence to link Sergeant Rutledge to the crimes but as we see through the flashbacks, he is an upright and innocent man.  Lieutenant Tom Cantrell(Jeffrey Hunter) is the officer in charge of the 9th Calvary and it is his duty to arrest Sergeant Rutledge and take him to the fort’s prison to await the trial.  As members of the 9th Calvary and Lt. Cantrell are about to take in Sergeant Rutledge, he is able to escape on his horse   which forces  the 9th Calvary to go after him.

Sergeant Rutledge finds a train depot to hide out at;it’s in the middle of a dry, nowhere place.  Here he meets by accident a lady traveler, Mary Beecher(Constance Towers).  She has arrived at the depot to await her father but when she finds the station agent, she is horrified to discover that he’s dead!   Wandering outside the station, it’s now  nighttime, wondering what she should do,  she is grabbed by the Sergeant in order to keep her quiet-she doesn’t realize that the depot is surrounded by Apaches and that she and the Sergeant will have to use their wits in order to get away from the depot without being killed.  Part of that scene is available to watch here.

Sergeant Rutledge  and Mary are able to get away safely and meet up with Lt. Cantrell and the rest of the 9th Calvary.  The sergeant is able to warn them about a possible Apache attack  and towards the end of that scene, as a fellow calvary comrade, Moffat, lies dying from his wound in Sergeant Rutledge’s arms, is a moving discussion between the two men as to why they should keep on fighting for the US Calvary.  That scene is here.

As the trial begins, we see that Lt. Cantrell will be Sergeant Rutledge’s defense attorney.  Despite Mary Beecher’s testimony in favor of the Sergeant’s character, and the same from Sergeant Skidmore, Rutledge’s worst fears are realized by the work of  a hostile prosecutor and from  the community that lives in the town closest to the fort; already stirred up and convinced of the black sergeant’s guilt.  Despite these serious issues, the trial doesn’t turn out as Sergeant Rutledge thinks it will.

Woody Strode was a native of Los Angeles and a star football player on 1939’s UCLA team.   He was also one of two black men to first ever play in the NFL, joining the Los Angleles Rams in 1946.   Acting came easily to him and with his commanding presence and athletic build, he was a natural for the camera’s eye.  He is strong, stoic, courageous, and cautious as Sergeant Rutledge.  It was his first role to be the lead and he handled it excellently.

Jeffrey Hunter, who had appeared in John Ford’s more famous film, The Searchers, is good as Lt. Cantrell.  He is sincere in his beliefs that his 9th Calvary men are just as equal to serve in the US Calvary as white men are.   He is sure that Sergeant Rutledge is innocent of the horrific crimes he is accused of and is determined to defend him to the best of his abilities.  Lt. Cantrell also can’t help falling in love with Mary Beecher, so there is a touch of romance in the film, too.

Constance Towers is beautiful and gives  a terrific performance as Mary Beecher.  She conveys so much with her eyes.  She is the main female in this world inhabited mostly by men and she is strong, not willing to hide behind her femininity or to use it for her own betterment, disregarding the other people in this world she didn’t purposely enter.

Look for wonderful supporting actors Juano Hernandez as Sergeant Skidmore and a scene-stealing Billie Burke(Glenda the Good Witch herself!) as Cordelia Fosgate.

Sergeant Rutledge is available through Turner Classic Movies Shop in a 5 dvd set of some of John Ford’s films.   It is also available to purchase through Amazon or to watch it through their instant rent program.   The OV Guide also has the film available to watch online, for free.

Filmed in the spare yet beautiul Monument Valley area of Utah, see Sergeant Rutledge for a John Ford film that doesn’t get as much attention as it should.  I’ll close this blog out with some more photos from the film.

Woody Strode as Sergeant Braxton Rutledge

Woody Strode as Sergeant Braxton Rutledge

Jeffrey Hunter, on the left, as Lt. Cantrell

Jeffrey Hunter, on the left, as Lt. Cantrell


Constance Towers as Mary Beecher

Constance Towers as Mary Beecher






Early Childhood Classes for Rolla Public Schools?

RHS Bulldog 2During this past Spring, I was sent an email from the Rolla School District’s  Superintendent’s office.  My email address was included in a longish list, and I was asked to consider participating in a review of the school district’s CSIP.  Comprehensive School Improvement Plan is a way for a school district to go over goals that the district wants to improve upon and/or to implement.  How I got on this list, I don’t have any idea and a CSIP?  I had to actually google what that meant.  I got my teaching degree in the dark ages of 1987 and haven’t been in a classroom since the spring of 1991 when motherhood called me away,  so this terminology was new to me.  I was curious about the topics that this CSIP would cover so  away I went to the meeting.

As soon as I entered the district’s building, I was ushered to the room where the school board holds its meetings.   I was one of 7 ladies, and we simply went around the room, giving our opinions on the different items that were part of the district’s CSIP.  Two gentleman from the KC area presented the CSIP to us, and they marked down our comments.  They explained that they worked for a company that traveled all over the state of Missouri, conducting discussions and gathering data for school districts and their specific CSIPs.   This meeting took about an hour and when all was said and done, I was glad that I gave my input.  After all, how many moms who have homeschooled their children for preschool and grades K-7th for  part of their educations were on these CSIP opinion-seeking missions?

Fast forward to July 3rd and I received another email from the Superintendent’s office.  This new message thanked me for participating in the CSIP .  The email went on to inform me that several times now, throughout the Rolla School District and community,  a process has been presented to bring Early Childhood programming into the district.  It’s not up and running for this coming school year, but the district would like to have a community-wide approved issue on the April 2015 ballot.  Hopefully, by the beginning of the 2017 school year, Early Childhood will be offered.  The email included some video clips for me to view pertaining to community input about Early Childhood Education that has been discussed and planned for  since 2007.  An online survey was also included for me to give my opinions.

Winslow Homer's Crack the Whip

There are two plans being looked at to bring this about.  1.  Build a new building that will house all of the Early Childhood Education classes, from 4 year olds to kindergarten.  2.  Turn one of the existing elementary schools into the Early Childhood building.  Then the other two elementary schools will house grades 1-3.  The 4th graders will be moved to Rolla Middle School, and will be there with the 5th and 6th graders.  The 7th graders will be moved to Rolla Junior High to join the 8th graders.  The 9th graders will then move to Rolla High.    Both of these plans will cost money and will involve voters input.

While I appreciate the effort to look at Early Childhood Education,  the fact remains that it is not a mandatory part of education for a child.  One can design and build a fabulous building but that doesn’t mean that all of the families in the Rolla School District with preschool children will sign them up.  I looked into preschool classes for our oldest child  when we lived in St. Louis County, and paying $80-$90 a month was an outrageous fee for our family’s budget.  I therefore did preschool activities on my own with our child, and also with his siblings, when they were in that preschool age.   You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink, is a saying that comes to mind when I read about an entity, here a school district, attempting to get involved in spending a lot of money for something that may not be as successful as they imagine it will be.

Home Art Class

Home Art Class

I happened to watch the school board candidates on the local cable access channel when they were running for reelection.  One of the incumbent’s mentioned this new program and that in pursuing it, children who get to experience preschool turn out better than those who don’t.  I would like to remind this gentleman that my kids, who never stepped foot into a preschool, have all done very well in the Rolla district, and the oldest three are now pursuing higher education at various colleges.  To insinuate that children who don’t go to preschool are doomed, I find that reasoning faulty.

I admit, I am looking at this issue through my homeschooling lenses.  I think one of the reasons homeschooling works is the low student to teacher ratio.  A teacher with only 10-15 students in a class can probably get a lot more teaching of a new concept done than a teacher with 25-30 students.  I propose, that instead of focusing on Early Childhood Education that the Rolla School District make a bolder move.  Add more classrooms  at the elementary schools and the middle school.  Add more teachers to grades K-7 and  lower the student to teacher ratios in these grades.  I would expect that the district would see an increase of students in those grades achieving more  in content and understanding of important concepts in core subjects.  Those students would have a better ability to begin navigating their way through Junior High, High School, career paths, and then on to Higher Education, if that is the student’s goal.  I would much rather have my tax dollars go to supporting a plan like that, where the majority of school-aged children in the district will be attending these schools, than putting my tax money into a new Early Childhood Education plan that cannot possibly cause all of the preschoolers of Rolla, MO to attend.