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Some Answer the Call of Far Away Places
Far away places with strange sounding names, far away over the sea . . .
Oh those far away places with strange sounding names are calling, calling me.
I’ll go to China or maybe Siam—I wanna see for myself
Those far away places I’ve been reading in a book I took from a shelf.
I start getting restless whenever I hear the whistle of a train.
I pray for the day when I can get underway and look for those castles in Spain.
They call me a dreamer. Well, maybe I am, but I know that I’m longing to see
Those far away places with the strange sounding names calling, calling me.
The above golden oldie was written by Whitney and Kramer in 1948. Strange isn’t it, how one remembers a song that one hasn’t heard for fifty years, but forgets the name of a person one met a month ago? Tell me that rote learning doesn’t work!
We played it and songs like “I’d Like to Get You on a Slow Boat to China, all to Myself Alone” on a record player that belonged to my sister, Beverly Gard. (No, not the one who’s a State Representative, although her husband and we are probably related, although not closely.) There was no such thing as I-pods and all the newfangled stuff we have today.
Seemingly unimportant poems, songs, reading and events help shape our lives. At night I’d lie in bed and listen to the steam engine’s hiss and whistle as it chugged through town on the Big 4 railroad tracks by the poultry house and wonder whither it was bound, and if I’d ever be lucky enough to ride on a train.
It was a big deal when our senior class took a train to Washington, D. C. and New York. All kinds of people showed up to see us off when special arrangements were made, and the train stopped to pick us up at the Pennsylvania R.R. tracks on the south side of town. Man, what big shots we were! I thought, “This is the life when we lurched our way to the club car for Cokes, toured the White House, gawked at the skyscrapers of New York City and ate in restaurants.
The Banner masthead that you can see in color on its website is a picture of the old Academy building’s roof whose twin towers are surmounted by a globe and a telescope. “From the Earth to the stars!” was the message conveyed to me when I was a student there so many years ago.
Also, it reminded us to look beyond our individual selves and reach for our dreams and the unknown. It’s easier today. During my childhood even air travel was slow, compared with today’s jets that fly Bill and me to Paris overnight. Just think: during my lifetime, space exploration has gone from being a spark in someone’s imagination to a reality. Most of us will never fly in a spaceship, but at the rate that technology is accelerating, space travel will be probably be ordinary during my grandson’s lifetime.
My father never got farther away from Knightstown than Ontario, Canada. He never saw the ocean, never flew in an airplane. Some of our elderly neighbors probably never even went to the City as we called Indianapolis. Other than those who fought in the world wars, very few people went to Europe, let alone the Orient. It was big news when Mike and Jenny Schatzlein went to Germany. It was huge news in my family when I went to spend a summer in France.
I was fascinated by the wonderful TV series, This Planet Earth, that took seven years to film. If you didn’t see it, do rent it. It carried me to exotic places that I know I shall never see. My travels are forays to places that I’ve visited before such as France, Italy, the eastern seaboard and the western mountains because I like the feeling of visiting in depth rather than just looking at the surface from a tour bus.
There are people who delight in exploring the unknown. I’ve written before about adventurous people. I admire them because they’re such unafraid risk takers who think “outside the box.” Some of them turn their lives topsy-turvy and strike out in new directions as did the painter, Paul Gauguin, who ended up in the south seas and Lady Hester Stanhope who skedaddled from Victorian England to live in the high Lebanon.
I greatly enjoy living their lives vicariously through the pages of a book while sitting in my armchair. “Bravo!” I say to them. “Bravo!”, but I have no desire to see first hand the huge spiders of the jungle, freeze on the polar icecap or live in the forest primeval la Anne La Bastille.
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The Banner, PO Box 116, Knightstown, IN 46148 (765) 345-2292