Martin Denny’s “Quiet Village” is playing in my head. An early morning conversation with Margaret Dacko cued the music along with a mental side trip to a sandy beach with palm trees and tropical blue-green waters.
I gleefully follow the rabbit trails my mind takes me down. Wandering is therapeutic, even if it is in your head. I try to stop short of falling into Alice’s rabbit hole but sometimes…. “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there” or even better, “If you don’t know where you are going you cannot get lost.”
My rabbit track resembled a jungle waterway filled with alligators, crocodiles, and hippos. Parrots and other exotics darted in and out of the lush foliage that bordered both sides of the waterway. Eventually it led to a pristine shoreline complete with coconut trees, emerald blue waters, ivory white sands, and of course native girls in coconut bras waiting on me hand and foot. There may be a boat drink complete with umbrella in my near future..but doubt the appearance of a native girl. Is that a sailing ship I see on my horizon?
Margaret Dacko is a former teaching chum and dear friend who shares my curse, being unable to sleep like normal people. Sometimes, like this morning, we converse during the early, still dark hours via Facebook.
Our conversation led me to Martin Denny, James A. Michener, Gardner McKay, and the South Pacific or Caribbean Islands of my youthful dreams. There may be a jungle or two residing there too.
I wander down my rabbit trail to a Monday night in 1959 and an ABC program, Adventures in Paradise, A program I sometimes was able to watch depending upon atmospheric conditions. A snowy Gardner McKay starring as Captain Adam Troy of the sailing schooner Tiki. Sailing around the South Pacific for an hour minus commercials, searching for adventure and romance, always finding a reasonable facsimile around the Tiki’s home port in Tahiti or the Pacific beyond.
Our conversation continued and now I’m playing Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song” in my head, “Day-O, Day, Day, Ohhh! Daylight come and me want to go home.” Later my memories trade Harry and Gardner for Perez Prado’s “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White,” from the movie Underwater featuring Jane Russell’s breasts in a swimsuit. I was a young teen when I saw them on NBC Saturday Night at the Movies…I mean it, saw it, the movie, saw the movie. I just remembered Jacqueline Bisset in the movie The Deep. Nice T-Shirt.
As a child and young teen, I was drawn to my grandmother’s National Geographic magazines. Monthly windows into a world far from the landlocked upper state of South Carolina. Family vacations to Myrtle Beach or Florida would be as close as I would get to the exotic far off places I read about or dreamed of. My pirate ship was a small Sunfish sailboat sailed on local lakes…my jungles, the forests of Upstate South Carolina. The Sunfish would be as close to sailing off into the sunset to a tropical island or jungle as I would come.
There would be other books or programs that drew my interest to the exotic, Mitchener, James Clavell or John C. McDonald. Thor Heyerdahl’s real life exploits aboard the Kon-Tiki. Marlin Perkins battling an anaconda on the Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Of course, there was Magnum P.I‘s Hawaiian paradise and the short lived Tales of the Gold Monkey as I moved into adulthood.
There were movies galore in my youth, usually B-movies shown late at night or Sunday afternoons after church. Tarzan or Jungle Jim with Johnny Weissmuller seemed to be a weekly offering. The Saturday morning lineup included reruns of Jon Hall’s Ramar of the Jungle and for some reason I’m seeing Rita Hayworth singing and dancing in Miss Sadie Thompson…hummm, “The Heat is On”. All would be considered socially unacceptable today but were important to my “Beach Boy” attitude.
Even today, much that I read occurs in sunny tropical or at least coastal settings. I seem to still be drawn to the exotic.
Pat Conroy’s stories set in Charleston, James Lee Burke dark mysteries along the Gulf coast and New Orleans, or Randy Wayne White’s Sanibel Island hero, Doc Ford. I always thought I wanted to live at a coast…which is why I live as far from the ocean as I can live in South Carolina and still remain in the state of South Carolina.
I haven’t gone to Tahiti or ventured below the equator to see the Southern Cross. I still read about soft tropical breezes while roasting my own jerked chicken or coconut shrimp on my Weber listening to Margaritaville on Sirius. I get to live vicariously through others in my Hawaiian shirt without leaving my recliner or backyard. Still I feel a bit of wanderlust…to the fridge for a Dos Equis or the margarita mix.
Maybe when I finally grow up, I’ll make that trip to Australia. Maybe move to the Pacific side of South America or a Caribbean island, living my autumn years as an incognito Norte Americano expatriate, all mysterious, an odd little man. Or maybe I’ll just keep reading, living the life of a want to be beach bum in the foothills of the Blue Ridge. I think I’ll get a flagpole and run up a pirate flag. Now I’m hearing Buffett sing “A Pirate Looks at Forty” even though that is a birthday distant in my rear-view mirror.
Thanks for the memories Margaret.
The featured image is from Adventures in Paradise with Captain Troy at the wheel and an unknown guest star who I should know.
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