Ask anyone with last names in the “A-G/sometimes H” group during City School’s golden era to name his/her favorite teacher; many will respond, “Mrs. Jean Kling,” who taught us in second grade, a quick year highlighted by the annual roundtrip train ride to Elba.
Miss Dot Ellis had taught us to read in first grade but that didn’t keep Mrs. Kling from reading to us most afternoons.
We heard about Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed and other legends but when Mrs. Kling read 1920s “The Story of Dr. (John) Dolittle” to us, another new world opened.
Dolittle books, some 15 or so of ’em, to second-grade eyes, appeared thick, lots of pages, few pictures, lots of words.
They’re words about a doctor who chose animals for patients and could talk to them in their own languages.
Perhaps it’s a case of déjà vu all over again because Dr. Dolittle is alive and well after 100 years.
“Dolittle,” starring Robert Downey Jr., opened Thursday, and is coming to theaters near you if it ain’t already.
Proceed with caution watching this flick; over the years, your scribe’s learned Dolittle ain’t the only dude able to converse with animals, especially horses and dogs.
Happens daily in the House of Adams and regularly at sports venues where your scribe loiters, especially February-April.
On “Gunsmoke,” Matt Dillon typically rides either Buck or Marshal, faithful steeds that’ve taken to making eyeball-to-eyeball comments to the HoA’s Big Moroccan Theater crowd.
Both horses have always known series star James Arness was wounded in the right leg during World War II and has painful problems getting in/out of the saddle.
“So big whup,” Buck said recently about an episode Matt rode him 60 miles. “I got two right legs and having that 6’7” galoot on my back all day ain’t no cake walk, pilgrim!
“And the dude has the nerve and audacity to tell Moss at the stable to feed me a bucket of grain since I’d worked hard all day … while Dillon eats a Delmonico steak and drinks free beer all night in the Long Branch!
“Beyond that, Dillon never even calls me by name, wears spurs, and fires his pistol and/or rifle close to my ears without offering me any protection! You got OSHA’s number, hoss?”
In recent years, at local ballfields, older fans discovered dogs like attending ballgames.
They’re at every game.
Last season at Enterprise State Community College baseball/softball games, one dog always sought out your scribe with timely thoughts.
“Hey, this fool on the other end of this leash always drags me here, and these kids ain’t never asked me to play in a game,” Old Blue (not his real name) said. “And I have to sit or lie on cold, wet ground while he’s vegged out in his fancy-smancy padded chair eatin’ hard candy!”
Moving along, can’t remember what Dolittle talked to elephants about, but Joan Crawford may have, as Lane Bellamy in 1949’s “Flamingo Road.”
Timeless, Crawford’s 70-year-old quote can currently be applied to what critics describe as the total COLLAPSE of Big Al’s 2019 Alabama (11-2) football team:
“Amazing how hard it is to get rid of a dead elephant,” Crawford said.
Especially since the first thing you gotta do is make sure the elephant’s dead.