Friday, April 17, 2009

The maze of memories...CLINT WALKER and CHEYENNE

I was flipping the channels a few weeks back and heard the start of this...

Suddenly I was a very young boy, sneaking out of my bed to do something I knew was very, very wrong.

We bought our first "Big" TV in 1960 when I was four. The old TV was put in my bedroom, with one caveat: don't watch it after bedtime.

I still remember that old TV set. It was about four feet tall and three feet wide. The screen was maybe nine inches or so across. There must have been a dozen knobs across the front, but the only ones that I think worked were off/on-volume and the vertical/horizontal controls. The small antenna was on top, and you had to turn it to try and get a picture. I needed a small stool to reach it.

My bedtime was seven o'clock back then. All of the good shows started after that, of I would patiently as a four year old can, for my parents to think I was asleep. Then I would pull the small foot stool out from under my bed(carefully hidden behind a stuffed animal), turn the TV on, and adjust the antenna to get the best picture I could. It was magic.

I had a few shows that I loved. Disney, of course. The Flintstones. Alfred Hitchcock(yes, I've always been bent). Red Skelton. Bonanza. Have Gun Will Travel( Richard Boone was soooooo cool...and talk about another iconic theme song ) Maverick( another great theme song )And of course, Cheyenne.

Clint Walker brought something unique to the screen...and to a four year old boy. He was larger than life(6,6" tall with a 46" chest and a 32" waist), and ruggedly handsome. But there was something else. He made me feel safe. I liked Paladin, but I always thought that he might shoot me as well as the bad guys. Not Clint Walker. There was something in his eyes that made me feel that I would never have to worry about that from him. That soothing, deep baritone voice conveyed assurance. That's a very nice thing when your four years old.

That was almost fifty years ago.

And yet, at the sound of that music...

I'm four years old again...sneaking out of my bed to the TV.

Music is an amazing thing. What it does to your memory is even more amazing.

I've always believed that teaching, especially the most difficult topics, should be done to music. Why? Music is a key to memory. Don't believe me? Recite the pledge of Allegiance. Get through without stumbling? try the Gettysburg Address. Any luck? Probably not.

Now, turn on your radio(or your computer's music) to what for you is an "oldies" station. Depending on your age, that could mean songs anywhere from the forties to the nineties. Now listen for a while. Eventually, a song will come on that you haven't heard in forever...and you'll remember most, if not all, of the lyrics.

Why does music have such an impact on us? Not just on our memories, but on our emotions? I think it has to do with the harmonics of the human body, and the way sounds resonate within those harmonics. Our bodies are bio-machines that run on chemically generated electrical impulses. Harmonics have a huge impact on, and interaction with, electrical impulses.

But enough technical talk...I didn't start this blog for that...

My miner's flashlight is lit. I pull the covers back...oh, so slowly. The coarseness of my father's Navy blanket scratches my skin...almost like sandpaper. I swing my legs over the side of the bed and look down...the drop seems enormous. I will myself over the side, praying the sound of my feet hitting the floor won't give me away. I freeze, like a statue, at the sound of footsteps in the kitchen. The 91 freeway hasn't been built yet, so the night is still...except for the crickets. The sound recedes, and I creep softly to the TV. The light from the small screen pierces the darkness. I adjusted the antenna earlier, because I knew what I wanted to watch tonight. The sound is on so low, I can barely hear it. Then, it begins...

Cheyenne, Cheyenne where will you be camping tonight? Lonely man, Cheyenne, will your heart stay free and light? Dream, Cheyenne, of a girl you may never love Move along, Cheyenne like the restless clouds up above.

The sound carries me away...

The wind that blows, that comes and goes, has been your only home. But will the wild wind one day cease and you'll no longer roam?

I'm on a mesa, overlooking the mission school, in my mind...

Move along, Cheyenne, next pasture's always so green. Driftin' on, Cheyenne don't forget the things you have seen, And when you will settle down where will it be? Cheyenne... Cheyenne!

And now I'm back there again...a small boy...full of hopes...fears...dreams...

Now...think of your own memories...close your eyes and drift back...

Where will you be camping tonight?

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Christopher Blake is a loving husband...devoted father...minister...crippled more than a little rough around the edges...