In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nostalgia Time: Have Gun, Will Travel

Sometimes it's refreshing to turn from great themes and momentous events to things less weighty, yet more entertaining. One of my favorite pastimes is collecting and sharing nostalgia--anything that helps me relive the glorious days of childhood, when every day was full of discovery and devoid of the cares that burden us as we grow older.

My parents would wax nostalgiac about classic radio programs and Saturday afternoon serials at the movie theater. But those things predated me and my generation. We look back on, among other things, the early years of television. And one of the best things on the tube back in the late 50s and early 60s was the western series Have Gun, Will Travel, starring Richard Boone as the soldier of fortune "Paladin." His trademark was a chess knight, emblazoned on his holster and on his "business" card, along with the slogan, "Have Gun, Will Travel."

The web site provides a good summary of Paladin's character:
Paladin was not your normal gunfighter. He was an educated and a traveled man. A West Point graduate, he served as a Union officer during the Civil War. After the war, he went west and became a high-priced 'gun for hire.' He was based at the Hotel Carlton in San Francisco and enjoyed the finer things in life. He dressed in fancy clothes, enjoyed fine wine, gourmet food, opera, expensive cigars and he could play the piano. When working, he dressed completely in black including a black hat with a band of silver conchos and a custom holster with a silver chess knight on it. He carried a custom made pistol which was perfectly balanced and had a rifled barrel. He preferred to settle problems without violence whenever possible, but if forced to fight, he excelled.
A Wikipedia article about the show also notes that Paladin "had a thorough knowledge of ancient history and classical literature, and he exhibited a strong passion for legal principles and the rule of law."

I like to think I have some of those things in common with Paladin, although of course I don't have his cojones. Our society would be in much better shape if we had a few more people around like him--cultured and thoughtful, but willing to fight for what's right, when necessary, and win. Those qualities are exceedingly rare among our "leaders" right now, but I think there are hosts of otherwise "ordinary" people who exhibit them. They'll be our salvation by and by.

Amazingly, you can watch all 34 full-lenghth, uninterrupted episodes from the show's first season here. It's great fun!

The character of Paladin is perfectly captured in the magnificent song "Ballad of Paladin," sung by by Johnny Western (something tells me that wasn't his real name). They sure don't make 'em like that any more!

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