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MARCH 2019

“Sugarfoot” starred Randolph Scott (‘51). Never saw it. Not to be confused with our epic TV show, “Sugarfoot” the movie is now called “Swirl of Glory”. Sounds like an ice cream flavor. Scott’s a pretty good Sugarfoot, I guess, if you happen to like superstars. It’s a keeper. Hank Worden’s in it, too. Never saw a Hank Worden flick I didn’t like. We once sat in a row behind him at a rodeo. He was with a pretty gal. She had shaved
Hank Worden.her head
to look like Hank, I suspect. Greater love hath no woman. From our vantage point they looked like two eggs, sunny side up. The lady’s scalp featured a tattoo—not too big, nothing too blatant, you realize—jes’ a simple ol’ garden variety tattoo atop her bald head.

Recently I received a letter from a chap I met back in 1970 while I was in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) working on a flick, “Shangani Patrol”. He was a student at a prep school in what was then the city of Bulawayo. A bunch of us blokes from the movie visited his school one night for tea, cakes, and schmoozing. The director, producer, writer, actors, crew members. We were there to spin yarns about movie magic and to listen to what students and faculty had to say. A jolly good evening of camaraderie. I told about my admiration of the Masai tribesmen who played the "the Shangani Patrol".Matabele Warriors in the movie. They wiped out the British
troops. Between takes the Masai were a jovial group, laughing and singing, one haunting melody in particular. I went about humming it, praising it, couldn’t shake it. At movie’s end, I return to the scene of the carnage and stand before a monument to my fallen brothers. Before the director yelled “Action!” I asked the Masais standing about if they might provide on-the-spot mood music for me by singing their lovely melody one more time. They did, the camera rolled, and I felt the moment deeply. What a thrill for me to finally see “Shangani Patrol” stateside. The composer had incorporated the beautiful Masai melody into “Shangani Patrol”’s main theme!

Meanwhile, back at the prep school that night, I was the only Yank there. The headmaster took the floor to give us a hearty welcome. Then, with a slight glint, he told us a tale: “Thousands of years ago, Noah, doing God’s bidding, built a rather large boat and crammed it with two each of God’s creatures and set off on the flood’s tide. Near journey’s end, the big boat was even more crowded with excrement. Or, as Noah put it, ‘Whew!’ He ordered the crew to dump this giant collection overboard. So they did, resulting in the biggest splash in history up to that time. This huge, huge mass gathered itself and floated off, beyond the blue horizon. It wasn’t seen again until it was discovered in 1492.” The laughter that followed was massive, just like that floating continent of crud.

I wrote back to the chap and recounted that night. The chap knows a lady who worked extra on “Shangani Patrol” He gave her my address and she wrote me, requesting a DVD of “Shangani”. I remember her well, all gussied-up in the full fashion of the 1890s. All in blue she was, with a parasol. She now lives in South Africa. I’ll send her the DVD. As I write, I can hear that Masai melody in my mind. The lady in blue is now a grandmother, and I’m an old character, living in the land that was discovered in 1492.

 

                                        —Adios