Skip to content

Through Different Eyes

February 1, 2003

We all have had our brushes with fame. I once bumped into Meryl Streep, literally, in a crowd near the Plaza Hotel below Central Park. I turned around to excuse myself and saw that it was her.

She was my favorite actress at the time, after “The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” and it brightened my day. Coincidentally, she had attended the same high school as I did in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

We have some famous people around here, and others that deserve fame. Famous people have passed through Salida, they say: Jack Dempsey, Goldie Hawn, Jerry Seinfeld, a President of the United States.

If you believe the guest book of the Jackson Hotel, Jesse James. There’s the Rudyard Kipling story. Who knows? Who cares?

We all do, to a certain extent. I suppose some people are thoughtlessly enamored of celebrity, but many are attracted by the accomplishment and expertise of a well-known figure.

Just the promise of accomplishment might be attraction enough, so that we will listen to a new musician or poet with the hope of hearing something new, of discerning something unique.

You can find both experiences during this weekend’s Sparrows poetry festival.

We can find a satisfying joy in the success of others. A friend of mine, whom we shall call Danny Palomino to protect his identity, has this kind of spirit, a willingness to revel in the excellence of others. It probably comes from knowing well what it takes to be good.

In one of our talks about such matters, he mentioned that he had been published in an anthology of poetry along with John Updike. Amazing!

But, it was a collection of poetry by high school students. He claimed it was clear even then that Updike was a writer, while he himself produced “awful, turgid stuff.”

His poem was dark; his father had just died. Updike’s was witty. The collection was called “Songs of Youth,” dated 1950. Updike would have been 18 years old.

His home was listed as “Elverson, Pa,” which is sufficiently close to a family farm near Plowville.

I didn’t think to get permission to print the entire poem. I wonder if permission would have been granted. “Move over, Dodo” begins:

“The comma, seen, of late, but rarely, Was butchered, the grammarian claims, By authors, hard of heart, who, barely, Aped the master, Henry James.”

I asked Danny if he’d found anyone else famous in the book, but he said no. I spotted a Donald Sutherland … but from Radnor, Pa, when the famous actor was still in Canada.

This part of Pennsylvania is beautiful, by the way. Elverson is near Atglen, where I used to go with a friend to shoot metallic silhouettes with high-powered rifles. Yes, a curious pursuit.

We passed through Amish country, and I have a particular image that I hope will stay with me the rest of my life. We were driving a pickup truck on a late afternoon, heading home along a two-lane blacktop through green farms.

A horse and buggy approached; we slowed. As the black buggy passed, the driver’s gaze never faltered. He was dressed in black with a black hat and a full beard, and he didn’t seem to see us at all. But in the back seat was a little boy, also dressed in black, and as we passed, the brim of his black hat slowly rose until his dark eyes caught mine.

This weekend, take a peek at the world through different eyes. Go to Sparrows.


From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: