Today on Facebook, I was discussing these Big Valley refrigerator magnets on my Coffee Room’s fridge. They depict scenes and people from The Greatest TV Show in the History of the Past or Future Universe.
Growing Up Greg
One fateful day when I was about 6-years old (and I don’t even believe in fate!), I happened to watch my first episode of The Big Valley. It was a Heath-centric episode, as all the good ones were.
Note: All the cast was superb. Yet, they were there as supporting staff to Lee Majors. You know this is true because I just said it. Jarrod’s Jarrod-centric episodes were far below the compelling nature of Heath’s with the only acceptable one being the fourth episode of season three when he was blinded. And who doesn’t love Nick and Audra and Victoria? Well, it’s difficult to love them as much as we otherwise might when they have their own episodes without much of Heath. Still, when Nick was bitten by a rabid wolf and he almost adopted Opie Taylor in season 1’s 12th episode (I can’t make such brilliant storycraft up, this was the episode’s plot), we can accept it as an adequate filler episode while Heath got some rest, and so on down the line with Victoria and Audra.
After that one episode, I had my boyhood hero. It was Heath Barkley. And Lee Majors. One and the same. The greatest actor who ever lived in any past or future universe that ever existed or ever will exist.
Heath’s impact on my life was massive. And I’m talking about going all-in, including sitting in front of a mirror when I was in about the third grade trying to perfect Heath’s (or Lee’s, same thing) side-angled, closed-mouth smile.
I Wouldn’t Want to Tire You
Anyway, I could go on and on and on and on and on and on about Heath and The Big Valley.
So I will.
A Memorable Quote from the Show
In one extremely memorable episode, the bellowing, beautiful, baritone voiced Lou “Lady Love” Rawls guest starred. (Yes, of course, I’m speaking about episode 14 from season 4.)
As anybody who understands greatness already knows, they gave two extremely memorable quotes to Lou and not Heath in that episode. I chalk it up to them making a deal with Lou so he’d sing Sing Low, Sweet Chariot if they’d give him those two lines.
Note: To this day, I cannot fathom why people think I’m obsessed with The Big Valley. Are you obsessed with water? Are you obsessed with comfort? Are you obsessed with not going without food for two weeks? Case closed.
One of the great lines was when Nick (of course it’s gotta be Nick! Heath would never fall into such a dangerous situation) fell to the ground right in front of a rattlesnake. Right before the snake struck Nick, Lou Rawls pulled out his six-shooter and in one shot (from the hip) killed the snake. When Nick said it was the best shooting he’d ever seen (an obvious show error, Heath shoots better than anybody else who ever lived), Lou humbly said,
“All I did was pull the trigger. The snake did the rest. When a rattler sees a bullet coming he strikes out at it.”
The other great line they gave Lou Rawls (let me say, it was so kind of Heath to let Lou have a couple of good lines. Sure, the show wasn’t as good as if Heath had said them, but just the knowledge that Heath would be so humble made it all okay) is one I’ll tell you about next.
Need a Battery?
A couple of years ago I was in an Interstate Battery store getting a 6-volt battery for our alarm system. I like to buy from Interstate Battery when we have a specialized battery need because – at least at some point in the recent past and I believe it still holds – their owners and/or board are Christians and they take the opportunity to make that known in some of their commercials and printed materials.
If that weren’t reason enough to like Interstate Battery, I walk in and a flat-panel, 50-inch TV is on the wall behind the cashier showing the Heath Barkley (with Lou Rawls) episode of The Big Valley! My heart leaped because, you know, I’m not made of stone. It would happen to anyone.
I quickly grab my battery and got back to the cashier. Sure, while I do have each and every episode of The Big Valley at home, I would not miss the chance to see parts of it anywhere I find myself.
Because, you know, I’m not made of stone. It would happen to anyone.
A 50-ish year-old guy checking out behind me was watching the screen and when Lou Rawls came on, he exclaimed, “That’s Sidney Poitier!”
Immediately, I felt a desperate longing for a Motrin/Midol Cocktail. The pounding in my head upon hearing such foolishness grew stronger with each passing nanosecond… After all, I’m not made of stone. It would happen to anyone.
But being the professional I am, looking to help the unwashed masses who so very desperately need my rebuking, I calmly looked at him as I’d look at a 4-year old child who just asked “Why doesn’t Captain Kangaroo have a pouch?”
I corrected him saying, “No, that’s Lou Rawls.”
Fortunately, He Understood My Presence
Instead of spurning me, a feat never done twice, he looked back at the screen and said, “Wow, you’re right, that is Lou Rawls.”
Keep In Mind The Big Valley Randomness of This
As I finish this, keep in mind the randomness of it all. I had no idea that Interstate Battery was a great enough company to air The Big Valley when it appeared on a rerun western channel. This guy making such an uneducated guess at a television show that only deserves studious insightful study had no idea what he was saying or what it was all about or how his life was about to be impacted in such a big way by me.
He said, “How did you know that was Lou Rawls? That’s amazing you’d know that, you don’t look old enough to have been around when he was singing.” (I was.)
You’re so not going to believe what happened next. The universe works like the following so many times. And it’s such an amazing joy when it does.
The customer in front of me was still paying, and the second great line they gave Lou Rawls was about to be uttered. I looked at the proletariat behind me (I don’t mean to be rude of course, when I say proletariat. It’s not libel if it’s a fact) and said, “Listen to this” as I pointed to the TV and I said:
“There ain’t a man who can’t be throwed; there ain’t a horse that can’t be rode.”
And one second after I finished saying this, as he (and now the guy in front of me and the cashier) glanced at me and back to the TV, Lou Rawls said:
“There ain’t a man who can’t be throwed; there ain’t a horse that can’t be rode.”
They’d Buy the Rounds
That story I just told you was factual. It went down exactly as I described it.
As I said, the universe can sometimes just be a joyful place to be, and to those three other men that day, as their mouths gaped open, I was King of the place. Other than the show, nary a word was spoken for a few seconds, as their mouths slowly closed and they swallowed in wonder of the brilliance they had witnessed.
Now you know I hate talking about myself. It’s not bragging if it’s fact. It did go down just like that.
I’m not a drinking man. I don’t consider booze a sin if one doesn’t get drunk, but I just don’t drink it. I don’t like the taste of wine, and I’ve tried it many times only to let the glass stay full. I’ve never tasted beer or whiskey or any other non-wine alcohol but I know I just wouldn’t like it.
But if I were a drinking man, those guys would have driven me to the bar and my rounds would be paid for! I was the hero they’d all been looking for that day but didn’t know it. And I’d go on and on, but you know how much I hate talking about myself.
Note: Soon, I’ll tell you about the time I flew out to Hollywood to attend an acquaintance’s appearance on Politically Incorrect (the most inaccurately-named TV show of all time). We all four flew in from different parts of the country and arrived within the same 2-hour timeframe. I walked in last and told them we needed to eat dinner at Chin Chin’s, the best restaurant in the L.A. area. They agreed and upon walking into Cin Cin, you won’t believe what the head waiter said to me! But the result was that same hero worship, we’ll buy the rounds, guy response. I’d tell you what he said here, but I hate talking about myself so I’ll leave that for another post.