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The Duke?

"The Duke?" by Terrie M. Scott, November 26, 2012

Terrie M ScottThis falls into the category of "pet peeve" blog, but indulge me.

While driving to the Rectory, Tim was telling me about a conversation he had a several years ago during a sales meeting, in which he was using an analogy featuring John Wayne.

A thirty-something salesman interrupted him and said, "Who is John Wayne?"

Tim said, "John Wayne. The Duke...?"

The man shook his head in confusion, "The Duke?"

Tim replied, "You've never heard of John Wayne, the Duke?"

The man shrugged and said, "No, what country is he the duke of?"

* * * *

This reminded of a conversation I overheard between an elderly man and his grown son. The man was talking about a Las Vegas show he attended featuring Sigfried and Roy.

The elderly man said, "He's no Harry Houdini."

His son said, "Who's Harry Houdini?"

* * * *

My daughters worked at a grocery store in an upscale community full of doctors, lawyers, etc... when they were 12 & 14. They'd come home with tales of just how little other kids their own age knew.

Such as? Who is Lucille Ball? Who is Charlie Chaplin? Who is John Glenn? We'd laugh about it and they were always surprised that other kids their age did not know these key figures in history.

And, one kid thought he was so smart about our nation's space program as he proclaimed that LANCE Armstrong was the first man to land on the moon. Really? LANCE Armstrong? Didn't realize that Tour de France went that far, but hey.

Anyone reading this - I implore you to be familiar with the most notable figures in history. ALL history, not just your lifetime. And, teach your kids the same.

Remember that question about naming five people you would like to have dinner with (alive or dead)? Who would you invite? Mine would be Lucille Ball, Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini, Napoleon Bonaparte and Elizabeth I.

When Rachel was a young girl, her dream was to be the first female on Mars. Both my girls went to Space Academy. Ashlee was actually the space shuttle commander and Rachel was the shuttle pilot. They were space nerds. One of the highlights of their young lives was attending the "National Aviation Hall of Fame" banquet with every living astronaut present, emcee was Harrison Ford. That's Han Solo and Indiana Jones to you Justin Beiber crowd. It was Ashlee and Rachel's first formal affair. It was where they got to meet their American idol - Senator and astronaut John Glenn. They darted in and out of the crowd to meet all of their heroes from Buz Aldrin to Neil Armstrong.

I think we as have a duty to remember our past, preserve it. I don't want my grandkids to ask me who Frank Sinatra was? I want to play "Fly Me to the Moon" and share with them who he was.

My girls and I used to watch silent movies all the time. Remember when AMC had their silent movie night each week? Harold Lloyd's "Speedy" is one of my favorites. Babe Ruth even appears in this film. (the legendary sports figure, not the candy bar) Charlie Chaplin's "City Lights." D.W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation." (now theirs a hoot of a film) Let's see a show of hands of how many out there have seen these?

Orson Wells? Citizen Kane? War of the Worlds? The epic radio drama where thousands of listeners actually believed we were being invaded by aliens? Not just a Tom Cruise movie.
R A D I O dramas were THE form of entertainment of our grandparents generation.

Sigmund Freud? Carl Jung? The Wright Brothers? Thomas Edison? Steven Hawking? Monet? Camus? Dante? Faulkner? on and on and on.

And, anyone reading this blog has an interest in the spirit world I would wager. Then, those of you that know Harry Houdini (Erik Weiss) was a master escape artist, should also know that he was the original "Ghost Buster." I have always admired him since I was a little kid.

Spiritualism? One of Houdini's closest friends was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes). They were constantly at odds about their beliefs in the spirit world. It cost them their friendship in the end.

I would love to have a time machine and go back to see Ira and William Davenport give a performance with their Spirit Box. If you don't know who they are?Ira and William Davenport Google it. See the picture with this blog from the late 1800's - the Davenport Brother's Spirit Box.

When Houdini's mother passed away he became obsessed with contacting her, but quickly learned the spiritualism field was wrought with fraud. Houdini was so outraged by the mediums/psychics continual victimization of the bereaved that he spent the last 13 years of his life debunking the field.

Using his knowledge of illusion, Houdini was able to duplicate the ghostly apparitions, noises and mysterious levitations produced by the mediums and their "spirits." Houdini was a member of a "Scientific American" committee. They actually offered a cash prize to any medium who could successfully demonstrate supernatural abilities. Ironically enough, no one was able to and the prize was never collected.

I could talk for hours about Houdini. I have been fascinated by his life, work and paranormal endeavors since I was a little kid. Remember the Tony Curtis "Houdini" movie? (well known actor and Dad of Jamie Lee Curtis) And, the Paul Michael Glaser "Houdini" movie from the 70's? (Starsky from the original Starsky & Hutch)

Heck, I even have the dvds of Houdini's films. YES he starred in his own movies. If you have not seen them, get these wonderful silent films. "The Master Mystery" (1918) Houdini plays Quentin Locke, "The Grim Game" (1919), playing Harvey Handford, "Terror Island" (1920), playing Harry Harper, "The Man from Beyond" (1922), playing Howard Hillary, "Haldane of the Secret Service" presented by the Houdini Picture Corporation/FBO (1922), playing Heath Haldane. Very entertaining.

In a world full of over hyped, over paid celebrities, let's make an effort to give those that paved the way before us their past due.

As a parent, I would even make a game out of it. Pick a decade and talk to your kids about some of the notable figures in that period's history in Arts, Academics, Politics. Watch a silent film with them, take a trip to the Science or Art museum, dig out some of your old records. (those round vinyl spinney things that make sounds).

These legendary figures don't need to get lost... all we need to do is remember them and pass this knowledge on to our children and grandchildren, and teach them to do the same. Please.