Funny Papers Again Column | What a Long, Strange (Round) Trip It’s Been

75
Steve Wilson

Today’s Funny Papers will be a bit abbreviated for no particular reason other than I have so much to write about there isn’t room in one, or 10, columns, so I’ll make it brief. For those unaware, which is I suppose most of you, I will let on that I am a cinephile, one who finds movies to be more than just entertaining but also as commentary on human nature and cultural history.

Here is something from a film that set me to thinking a few hours ago:

A hobo riding the rails said this to a fellow boxcar rider, “Here’s a little poem about us fellas, it’s called ‘The Open Road’:

‘There’s a road that passes cities, and leaves them on the side;
it goes across the mountains and takes them in its stride.
You can meet with friends along that road, or travel all alone;
it’s the open air of freedom, where you call your soul your own.’”

Now according to the storyline, those words were written by a character played by James Cagney in the film “Johnny Come Lately” released in 1943. But in truth, the words came from not from the mind of Mr. Cagney but from a screenwriter, in this case a man named John Van Druten working from a novel written by Louis Bromfield called “McLeod’s Folly”; so either the novelist or the screenwriter had a way with words with intent to strike a chord in some audience members.

One of them was correct in my case because, as is obvious, I played the scene over again and copied down the poem. And with those words in front of me I began playing over in my mind the many roads I have been on, which according to the poet all metaphorically meld into one road we all travel, the Road of Life, and how many little byways that I had the freedom to travel. And then I thought of how a decade ago my Road ultimately led to King City, or more appropriately back to King City.

Here’s a brief recap: I have lived and worked in six states and in numerous towns in some states for various periods of time since January 1972 when I first arrived in the Riverside County city of Corona; that was 50 years ago. There was Nevada first in the gaudy city of Las Vegas, then Branson, Missouri, and after that deeper into the South in New Orleans and later in Orlando. The last stop was Oklahoma in the little burg of Purcell.

In each of these towns, and many more just in California, I lived and worked and observed the culture and the life of those around me, which cultures were all markedly different. Many times the road led back to California, either here or down south and between there were a hundred of jobs taken for curiosity or just a plain old paycheck and with each job came more skills learned, coworkers to know, and experience gained. And now it would seem that the Road ends here in South County, and I suppose there is a certain poetry to that.

Now gone is the ability to drive across this great land and for the most part the streets of King City and Greenfield are the only roads I travel on, and those not in an automobile but on a bicycle. But that is not complaint, far from it. The Freedom Road I ride now has wonderful stops along the way where I can be involved in wonderful projects with wonderful people doing everything from making a few places around town look nicer with plants and flowers to helping a museum with a zillion things needed to maintain that tourist gem and sitting on a commission, which, hopefully, makes decisions that will make life better for generations to come.

My local Life Road has led to buildings wherein productions are brought to life and I have worked with some wonderfully dedicated and talented adults and appeared in front of many audiences with a mic in hand; the Road also led to some newspaper people and you see the result of that. One grand stop on this path through KC led to a dance studio and that was life changing, and one can’t ask more than that. Just four days ago I had the great pleasure of being around that wonderful troupe of girls, and two boys, and the grand lady that has guided them to renown; I reflected upon how glad I was that my Road led to their studio.

And on the subject of Mee Memorial Healthcare System, celebrating 60 years of operation (pun intended) I was at RYSA pharmacy the other day, it is located on Broadway behind the hardware store, getting Booster No. 2, and I mentioned to the pharmacist that the hospital was 60 years old, and he replied he had read that. I then informed him that I was born on the site where he presently had a syringe in my arm, and I am older than 60 years. In fact, it was 70 years ago today I was born here in King City and I now reside just two and half blocks away. But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a long open road of freedom behind me and maybe just a few more miles ahead.

Take care. Peace.

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