Pioneer Wives Didn’t Hold Their Tongues?

Published 10:11 am Thursday, December 1, 2016

My first, second and third assessments were that it was a class C movie. Hard to hear. Muffled dialog. And a sluggish pace.

But there was nothing else on, and Elizabeth had a meeting with the girls. Over the course of several days, I finally watched until the movie’s bitter end.

By then “Meek’s Cutoff,” a 2011 Western, had grown on me. More than many Westerns, it showed a more realistic picture of the race to California. There was no glamor.

The women on the small wagon train were unhappy. They griped about the conditions. They second guessed the men and wished they had never embarked on this difficult journey into the wilderness.

Then they got lost.

Meek’s Cutoff was a real thing — a “short cut” on the Oregon Trail that took wagons through a desert. They ran short of water. Their guide was clueless. The short cut proved to be anything but that.

• • • • •

For a class A experience, we went to see “Hacksaw Ridge,” a wonderful war movie but not for the faint hearted.

It is a bloody experience, but the true story is inspiring. A deeply religious young man from Lynchburg, Va., joins the Army in World War II wanting to serve as a medic. His religious convictions prevented him from carrying a rifle. He weathers extreme hazing and abuse from fellow soldiers and officers during basic training.

Desmond Doss is a Seventh-day Adventist, but he refuses to use the conscientious objector status to avoid combat. He wanted to help save lives on the battlefield.

His actions during a battle at Okinawa prove he was the bravest of his unit. After the Americans are initially driven off Hackshaw Ridge by the Japanese, he stays to treat the wounded, rescuing 75. He was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Truman, the first time that highest of military awards was given to a conscientious objector.

Doss died in 2006 at age 87.

The movie is inspiring and beautiful, even if clothed in a most bloody and vicious battle.

• • • • •

Has there ever been a more pleasant Thanksgiving Day. Temperatures in the mid-60s. Sunny.  Our clan spread tables outside, and we ate like the Pilgrims and Indians.

It was a beautiful day.

Afterward, I felt the effects of turkey’s tryptophan. There’s some debate on whether it’s the turkey or all the carbs that makes people sleepy after Thanksgiving, but I needed a nap.  The next day I realized Thanksgiving had not been complete. I had missed the pumpkin pie.

• • • • •

In July, we spent the family vacation near Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains. This week that vacation paradise is ablaze with runaway wildfires spread by high winds and drought conditions. Many of the trails we hiked and the Dollywood resort are closed due to the fires and heavy smoke.

The wildfires have inched dangerously close to downtown Gatlinburg, and tourists have abandoned the town due to heavy smoke and peril.

Rains arrived here on Tuesday morning, the first significant rainfall since Hurricane Matthew in mid October. The mountains have been tinder box dry.

Let’s hope the rain will drown the fires.

• • • • •

The early Tuesday winds and rains finally dislodged lots of leaves that had seemed to be stuck on the trees well beyond their normal time for falling. I blew my lawn Monday evening to beat the rain, but there were more leaves on the lawn Tuesday morning than I had removed.

— Dwight Sparks