Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Ken Curtis Salute

Our wildfires are still burning in Colorado and Arizona; there are a few new fires and a very few contained fires; most are continuing to increase in size.  Yesterday, following the deaths of the HotShot fire fighters, all crews working on live wildfires were called in, safety measures were again reviewed, and, if any fire fighter wished for time off, it was granted.  The Granite Mountain Hot Shot Fire team was well known, well traveled, well respected, and well loved.  They will be missed.
  Ninety-seven years ago, a son was born to the Sheriff of Bent County, Colorado.  The youngster grew up playing cowboys and Indians, working on cattle ranches and farms, and he learned to play the guitar and several other instruments.  He also had a wonderful voice.  As a child, he lived with his parents in the Old Bent County Jail in Las Animas, Colorado.  After his death, at his request, his ashes were scattered from an airplane over the county he grew up in...  I grew up in love with his irascible character on Gunsmoke, his alter-ego, Festus Haggen.  As I've grown, I've watched his performances with the Sons of the Pioneers, in a lot of movies and a lot of TV shows.  I always get a kick when he shows up in early episodes of Gunsmoke - the other day, on the Western Channel, he was playing a half-Sioux warrior, who helped Matt and Chester figure out a murder.  I particularly enjoy spotting him in the old John Wayne films - you're never quite sure what type of character he'll play.  When portraying Festus, he "put on" a high-pitched whiny voice and screwed up his normally handsome face; then, with his unkept-looking beard and almost always present hat, he had no trouble appearing as a true hay-seed.  Ken Curtis, I salute you!

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