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August 15, 2016

Goodbye, goodbye, Mister Massey


(Talk of the Town photos provided)

By Susie Duncan Sexton


"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." ~ Abraham Lincoln


"Whoopsy daisy!"  ~ Bill the Butcher


"Strange things are happening!" ~ Red Buttons Massey816b.jpg

My attempt to pound out yet another nostalgia column -- even when the future glowers ironically quixotic just beyond the horizon and beckons with an urgency, an eagerness to either rain or shine upon all of us -- challenges me as a supremely tricky proposition!  Especially vexing would be the daily FACT that due to the age of my Dell computer, saddled with Windows 10 plus those undependable cyber airWAVES emanating and mood-swinging from one nearby teensy Hoosier resort town headquartering my server in a spot called North Webster plus an omnipresent red-light-blinking in overdrive on my latest modem, I am forced to pontificate--between the acidic raindrops of erratic fate.  My emails, my blogs, my Facebook friends, my googling?  Here today!  Gone tomorrow!



I had planned to wax nostalgic regarding Crooked Lake Golf Course, founded I presume in 1927 by maybe Laurel and Gertie Weeks (close enough), the club pro and his gardening wife so very proud of her glorious bean field.  Holes-in ones, whiffs, divots, eagles, bogeys, shouts of FORE, hills, valleys, sand traps, handicaps, dog-legs, water hazards on a par with oversized puddles...and me being allergic to the local locale because I always got disciplined (almost unreasonably for example yielding to barked instructions dictating how to drive not just a ping-pongish ball but also the precious family automobile) to keep my head down and my left arm straight (while dragging the club backward through the parched grass) by my seasoned golfist dad OR by my rather un-golfish left-handed southpaw hubby-dubby, "Do you think you own the course?  And hot pants are not appropriate sports gear!"  (I loved traversing the fairways any which way I wished...EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE...and going barefoot and wearing as little as possible because I sweat profusely!  I compare myself...not whining OR boasting here...to Lee Trevino as in my Pepsi bottle is half full!  Golf aficionados will understand that reference...the rest of my readers...all half dozen or so of them... must google!)  Mark Twain and I concur that "Golf is a good walk spoiled..."


However, from my favorite sportsy status imaginable, being that of couch potato, I just this moment guffawed at sparkling comedian Red Buttons (who, go figure,  MUST be the birth father of overly serious, petulant Sean Penn)--guest of Johnny Carson (Antenna Retro TV)  who laughed uncontrollably, too, at Buttons' "New" line of get well cards.  Red announced that golfing enthusiast Johnny soon would be absent from even more telecasts than usual...but this time due to hospitalization for purposes of cloning another version of himself who could sub for himself when he himself was not actually hosting.  Several of the actual cards' messages leave me still chuckling!  Dr. Sigmund Freud screeches, "Leave my office immediately!  You are sick!"  AND Cleopatra's mother demands, "Cleo, get your dog and your cat and your ASP outta bed now!"  AND..."The jolly chartreuse giant claims there is nothing like a good pea to cure what ails you!"  Oh, and one more," The doc informs his patient THE INVISIBLE MAN, 'Well you appear fine to me!' "  


Thus, pardon me as I devolve into the no-no, verboten stream-of-consciousness pattern which I so love and feel comfortable with, not dissimilar to the style of the Nobel Prize Winning, high school drop-out, novelist/ screen-writer William Faulkner and also in deference to my admiring predisposition I confess that I harbor toward THE Donald Trump whom I half the time admire for telling it LIKE IT IS and not ever allowing himself to be pushed around or manipulated...we are only separated in age by one month. I planned to share that I became so intimidated by golf carts and foursomes and unattractive cleated shoes one sunny Saturday afternoon at Crooked Lake that I insisted that Danny Curless and his buddies precede hubby and myself on hole number one which alternates from a hilltop teeing-off position past a heavily forested dog-leg...to another teed-off-heading-straight-down -the-fairway-shot directed via a lazier, sissier path toward the pin. Guess what?  Curless slammed into the jungle and may still be there hunting his ball to this day?  And he was a high school basketball stand-out once upon a time. After a very pregnant pause, I blasted my dimpled little mercurial ball nearly into the cup...only the erect flag blocking my potential newsworthiness...and nobody but competitive hubby witnessed my surprising, once in a lifetime, inspirational athleticism?  And I am S**t outta luck because Don generally refuses to discuss my more notable achievements in one way or another.  (The War Between Men and Women ongoing until Hillary finally wins her spot in history I am certain...three cheers for her imminent victory!)



Which brings my wandering thought process ala Faulkner around to (double preposition) ... (Oh, BTW do read THE SOUND AND THE FURY-- commences on a golf course!) where I may be headed. Recently, we attended Roy's Penny Seats Theatre Company's summertime musical in the park, XANADU!  I wore my newest, very best t-shirt.  Daniel Day Lewis as Bill the Butcher leers from my chest as he emotes in GANGS OF NEW YORK...facetiously he is labelled PATRIOT!  Cinema addicts "get" it...a handsome Middle-Easterner in Ann Arbor exited a café exclaiming that he "LOVED" my shirt!  SOOOOO, we began to discuss the actor and that Oscar winner's portrayal of LINCOLN. I suggested that unless Daniel stars as an absolute fiend, his performances are lame...and that particular film featuring Abe I considered saccharine, cloying, ornate, florid, and too "Perils of Pauline-ish" with only Jared Harris as Ulysses S. Grant and Tommy Lee Jones as who-or-whomever and Sally Field as screwy Mary Todd each to be up to snuff, so to speak.  "Whoopsy daisy!" 


Okay now, that brings me full circle to my explanation of my title this go 'round, IF, "dear reader people", you continue with me as I wind down...  I have adored Daniel Massey since Santa brought me the long-playing cast album SHE LOVES ME in the early 60s....I memorized each and every song and the orchestral bridges...and recently reveled in friend Laura Benanti's scene-stealing performance in the exact same musical at the Roundabout Theater. The show got streamed online on BroadwayHD, and the antagonism reverberating and ricocheting between her leading man and herself reminded me of the "Donald/Hillary Show" which we all enjoy...in spite of ourselves. As I navigated the rooms of my childhood home which I am still trapped in as the only immediate surviving relative (and which is overflowing with memorabilia that I have pored through for the repurposed BLUE BELL LOFTS senior citizens' apartment complex project --I feel like a grant applicant-- and searched for seven years' worth of mis-filed nostalgic columns and gathered exploratory materials and networks aimed at preserving the dignity of local pigs and hogs and piglets sacrificed to the world of "entertainment" and prayed for helpful tips while seeking fellow advocates to save lives of geese and goslings regarded as pests who poop and deserve the likes of the Trumpian brothers' guillotine-poach-approach I guess), I eventually settled down to a fast-food sandwich with hubby Donster!  (Totally, I might add, proud that I have done my bit for humanity and for the benefit of all manner of equally important species...without fanfare NOR monetary  gain.) And I shamelessly proceeded to...talk...and to share some thoughts?  Silly me! 


Returning to a cursory mention of Daniel Massey, son of Raymond Massey who portrayed James Dean's non-empathetic, dictatorial, rigid, stiflingly fundamentalist father in EAST OF EDEN, one of the best films ever directed by Elia Kazan, I blended all stream-of- consciousness THINKING into a fresh singular topic which Don simultaneously thought also ... out loud!  Referencing the conclusion of an old film starring Raymond Massey as Honest Abe  (actually Lincoln was not all that honest...watch Kevin Spacey's fabulous series RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE), we both recalled an unbelievable celluloid instance where extras received direction to follow along as Abe departed from Illinois on a train to begin his mythical contribution as 16th prez!  (Henry Fonda and Royal Dano and countless other actors have channeled that moment as well.) Check out the movie ABE LINCOLN IN ILLINOIS, and watch and listen closely...somebody shouts out, ad libbing adoringly, "GOODBYE, GOODBYE, MISTER MASSEY!"  And that notorious blooper has only been matched by an errant ketchup bottle in Alfred Hitchcock's NORTH BY NORTHWEST featuring CARY GRANT. Oh, yeah.  My other new t-shirt...my very best, most promising one proclaims "Cary Grant for President", but (sigh of relief) we shall save that story for another day and another column if I don't break a hip bashing into stacks of Blue Bell "Wrangler" trivia and towers of rough drafts and piles of newspaper clippings, unfinished articles, starts of novels, unplugged and unleashed blogs, a handful of kitties and mountains of aging photographs.  A staff, a staff, MY KINGDOM...for a staff Google Richard III!  (And inquisitive people wonder WHAT do I do all day?  Here at the Library of Congress with a staff of one...and an armful of cat assistants!)


POSTSCRIPT:  ANOTHER COUPLE OF RED BUTTONS' COPYRIGHTED GET WELL CARDS FROM THE 80S:  AL JOLSON'S MOM TO HER SON--"I do not want a million baby kisses. Instead, just gimme a couple of bucks!"  $$    ABRAHAM LINCOLN:  "Do not name a car after me...I have more than enough gas already!"  See, stream-of-consciousness can be fabulous fun...we end up right where we started... just ask Raymond Massey!  And Red Buttons!  And Abraham Lincoln himself!  (You'll notice that within the collages are two black and white photos of my dad and sisters preparing to sled down that fabled hill toward green number five at Crooked Lake Golf Course circa winter 1942!  And remember that the operative word is consciousness of all that life has to offer!)



Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in Susie's book Secrets of an Old Typewriter and its follow-up Misunderstood Gargoyles and Overrated Angels - print and ebook versions of both are available on Amazon (click the title). The books are also carried by these fine retailers: Ann Arbor's Bookbound and Common Language; Columbia City's Whitley County Historical Museum; and Fort Wayne's The Bookmark. And you can download from iTunes. Read her blog here, and meet other like-minded souls at her facebook fan page. Visit her author website at www.susieduncansexton.com. Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or Won't. Roy's blog ReelRoyReviews can be found here.