Aloha Friday Message – November 28, 2008


Happy aloha Friday, Beloved. Today I am thinking about Johnny Carson’s frequent use of the prhase “harking back” in his monologues. Something happens and suddenly we find our minds “harking back” to some incident, some unexpected memory, some moment of truth or fiction we had laid aside and rarely come across again. I don’t even remember what it was that triggered this, but suddenly this poem from the comic strip popped into my head circa 1971. It’s based on a fishing trip on the Rio Grande, but in turn, it “harks back” to college days and some of the whacky things college students do – like inventing a comic strip.

Colorado Chuckie and Tales of Fishing on the Rio Grande
(Base on my comic strip which coincidentally had the same name.)

What madness comes over me
To mistake this ancient art
For fitting sport?
Standing and sitting
At the most awkward angles
(must be why they call it angling)
in the least comfortable positions
it seems I spend half my time
(must be a cut-bait or half-time job)
trying to restore life
to my limbs and sitter.
(Sounds like you’ve got a dead end.)
The rest of my time is divided
Between cursing, tying complex knots,
Cursing, untying complex knots,
(Sounds like your knot trying)
climbing trees for cast-away lines
(Why would you do what they ask you?)
wading in after others which seem
predestined to frustrate me
(It’s nice of you to let them go first.)
and my dreams of catching
just one fish.
(Better dreams than your chances of catching
one just fish!)

This was part of the script for a Colorado Chuckie strip back in 1968. The basis of the strip was that there was an “observer/commentator” working n the background. Chuckie’s activities would be in the main panels and above those panels there were smaller panes with the text written is very small letters – as if whispered. Chuckie’s comments were always in balloons, and “the whisperer’s” text was always enclosed in parentheses. The artwork was –terrible – I can barely write my name, much less draw – so the comic strip never made it out of the composition notebook I shared with my sidekick, Michael.

Michael was and animorph as in the books by K. A. Applegate in the ’90’s. Michael could be any kind of animal he wanted to be – or needed to be – and he could always hear the whisperer which Chuckie rarely seemed to hear either the whisperer or Michael. Nonetheless, Michael showed up once in a while, usually to trick Chuckie into doing the right thing. When I left Denver to join the Air Force, the notebook and a lot of other things I owned disappeared. I came across this in a sheaf of papers that were original drafts written on all sorts of odd papers.

Chuckie was short, kind of ugly, and wore a blue, quilted snow-suit (maybe P/J’s?) that had little pictures of strawberries printed all over going every which direction. His hair was sort of a cross between buzz-cut and flat-top. His hands were too big, and he had a lot of freckles. In short, he looked like a 6-year-old ME. And yes I was called “Chuckie” for years; hated it! Changed it as soon as I could (Fall, 1964) and never went back.

Michael was also a real person, and at the time my best friend and spiritual Brother. He was a bit older than I was, but going to Metropolitan State College at the same time I was there (1965-1969). We shared a lot of common interests, and developed more in common as we became closer friends. Michael in the comic strip sounded a lot like Michael in the Student Lounge, or in the offices of The New Campus Review MSC’s literary magazine.

Sometimes harking back takes us places we never think about, and when those memories fill our minds again, it’s often enough of a treat that we just sit back and let the memories cascade. Maybe you’ve had your own little cascade while reading this; I hope so. Memories are a precious commodity. Some of us have so really bad or painful or even terrifying memories, too. Still those are part of what makes us who we are. My dad could not forget the extreme poverty he experienced as a child and teenager. The memories of his days as a B-17 pilot and squadron leader during WWII also haunted him. Although he was reluctant to talk about them, they nonetheless shaped his life in many ways, and thereby shaped my life as well. He died on his 81st birthday 11 years ago, and he still shapes my life.

So, Beloved, if you are out fishing on the Rio Grande, look for Colorado Chuckie, Michael, and the whisperer. They are still there, and still tying and untying complex knots I am sure. I think you get the idea. Everywhere is the Rio Grande. Every one is, has been, will be, or knows Chuckie, Michael and the whisperer, and everyone has to tie and untie complex knots in all kinds of awkward positions. That is how memories and made, and they are made so they can be shared. Thanks for letting me share these with you!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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