Rule #6 – A writer needs to honor traditions, for there is a story within.
When my friends and I go to the movies, the biggest decision is what to see. One time, two friends and I stood in the lobby of the local multiplex trying to pick a flick we would all enjoy. Our choices on the visual menu were 3 shoot-‘em-ups from various time periods, one horror film (no thanks), a few teen/sex flicks (got enough of that teaching middle and high school), 2 combo head trip/chick flicks, and some animation. Seeing blood drawn was no fun for any of us. We didn’t want to think or analyze the film we saw. None of us were in the mood for the biology lessons and procreation primers that are seemingly a mandatory part of scripts. So there we were – 3 seniors with tickets in hand – walking into the G-rated animation film with no kids to use as excuses.
As we watched Pixar’s “Cars”, I was entranced by the scenery artwork. It felt comfortable, like I’d been there before. Then, in one scene, Lightning McQueen and Sally are out for a drive and go through a tunnel. On the other side, there is a spectacular waterfall behind Sally as she goes over a curved bridge. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks – I was at these places! That was Havasu Falls in Arizona. I remember driving right by it and getting to the other side of the bridge, finding the sign for Historic Rt. 66. That was the trip Hub and I took driving to Phoenix AZ and back one summer. It got me psyched to look up more Rt. 66 locations and check them out.
We got to do just that in September when we again traveled out west. Our drive took us across southern Indiana and Illinois to St. Louis. We drove south of the city and picked up I-44, which parallels Historic Rt. 66. As Hub drove, I got pictures of places I’m sure inspired some of the scenery in “Cars”. I could swear we passed the inspiration for Sarge’s Hut and Fillmore’s Tent. The two lane road lined up right next to the north side of the Interstate Highway. The Interstate was straight and high speed, but the old 2-lane was slower, windier, and looked like a lot more fun. But we were in a hurry to get to Hub’s cousin’s home in Oklahoma.
But one of our touring days in Oklahoma took us back to the Mother Road. We went down to Claremore OK and drove on another section of the historic highway. Here the name is Patti Page Boulevard. Instantly, my mind started looking for doggies in windows, and people doing the Tennessee Waltz. Yes, that part of the road is named after the singer, who just recently passed away.
We rode to the intersection of Patti Page Boulevard and Will Rogers Boulevard, and followed the signs to the Will Rogers Museum. Another Claremore favorite son! Worth a stop in to see what all of this was all about.
The museum looks more like a building at a university than a monument to a rough and tumble cowboy image. Well, it is right across the street from Rogers State University. But go inside, and Rogers homespun humor is evident everywhere. Admission is only $5, inexpensive for what you learn about a premier humorist and his time period. Artifacts abound. You can witness Roger’s transition from trick roper on the vaudeville circuits to a radio commentator, to author and philosopher. Many of his sayings are up for all to see. And many are so true today.
Now many don’t know who Will Rogers was. Many will google his name and come up with many hits. But we have all used his words in our conversations. His wit and wisdom is timeless.
How many of us “…Never met a man that I didn’t like”?
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” Check any mall today and this is happening.
“The short memories of the American voters is what keeps our politicians in office.” That’s fodder for a whole ‘nuther blog, folks. Along with “If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of Congress?” and “A fool and his money are soon elected.”
My personal favorite is “Common sense ain’t common.” So true!
His philosophical musings stick with me the most. “You know horses are smarter than people. You never heard of a horse going broke betting on people.”
And “The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your back pocket.”
Or “Rumor travels faster, but it don’t stay put as long as truth.”
And “Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects.”
“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” Sounds good to me.
“Live in such a way as you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.”
“All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance.” This applies now to getting news from any source including the “net”.
On taking chances… “Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is,” and “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
Visiting this museum put me in touch with a wit I had only heard about from my parents. I saw some film appearances by Rogers. But mostly, he was present on film clips. Here at the museum, you can see full films, full speeches and complete routines. You can also watch parts of the Broadway hit, “The Will Rogers Follies”.
There’s more to see in parts of Historic Rt. 66. It doesn’t connect the way it used to. But it’s still here. There are still great sights to see. Check out the Mother Road routes on the internet. Just relax, go for a drive and have some fun.
Now it’s time for a great Will Rogers saying…
“Never miss a good chance to shut up.”
So I will.