The Law of Contact

The Thundering Herd (June 5, 1955)

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Randolph Scott in The Thundering Herd

Released on March 1, 1933: There are fortunes to be made selling buffalo hides, if the Indians don't get you first, or the thieves dressed like Indians.

Directed by Henry Hathaway

The Actors: Randolph Scott (Tom Doan), Judith Allen (Milly Fayre), Buster Crabbe (Bill, stage coach driver), Noah Beery (Randall Jett), Raymond Hatton (Jude Pilchuk, Spraque's partner), Blanche Friderici (Mrs. Jane Jett), Harry Carey (Clark Spraque, hide dealer), Monte Blue (Smiley, buffalo hunter), Barton MacLane (Pruitt, Jett henchman), Al Bridge (Catlee, Pruitt henchman), Fred Burns (man leaving store), Buck Connors (buffalo hunter), Francis Ford (Frank), Bill Franey (Baldy), Charles McMurphy (Andrews), Frank Rice (blacksmith), Dick Rush (Middlewest), Slim Whitaker (buffalo hunter).

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This Zane Grey western adventure stars handsome Randolph Scott and the love of his life, beautiful Judith Allen. She gets kidnapped on the night of their wedding, and our leading man searches for the rest of the movie for his beloved.

But if you want to talk love stories, I've got to tell you about Bill. I live in Niles, Ohio, and up the street a piece is a small country mall. Every Saturday morning I get up early and head for the Eastwood Mall to walk around the inside perimeter with Bill. Bill is heading towards 90 years old, and just lost his mate of the last quarter century. Before I tell you of his great love, let me fill you in on his youth. Warren, Ohio is next to Niles, and that is where Packard automobiles were made. When Bill was a young teen World War II was just ending, and the American economy was booming. Bill got a job at Packard where they struggled to keep up with demand for their cars. He had to work 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week. Bill tells me that the girls working there would flip a quarter every day to see which one would get to go out with Bill after work. He had a different girl every night to take to dinner and dancing, but the long days weren't his cup of tea. He soon quit that job and got a job at a nearby factory where he only had to work 6 days a week for 10 hours a day.

This love story didn't begin until Bill was 64 years old. His wife had recently passed, and his sister, a nurse at a local hospital, was determined to find Bill a new woman. She introduced him to Margo, a gal who had lost her husband about the same time that Bill lost his wife. His sister told him not to worry, if it didn't work out with Margo that there were plenty of other ladies losing husbands at the hospital where she worked, and she knew them all. I have never thought of a hospital as a place to meet single adults, but I guess love knows no boundaries when cupid's arrows are flying. Bill and Margo hit it off right away, and spent many good years together. Bill took Margo to restaurants for every meal, and told her that she never needed to cook again. Now . . . before you think that Bill did this because of his great love for Margo, that wasn't it. Bill says that he ate a brought-from-home sandwich for lunch every day he worked, and he went home to a stove-cooked meal every night. He made a covenant with himself when he retired from his job that he would never again eat a sandwich, and never again eat a meal at home. To this day he will not eat any fast food sandwiches or burgers, only a restaurant meal that no sandwich could be a part of. That is not what tells us about their love for each other - it is two different things that show their love. Margo passed about a month ago from bone cancer, and without even realizing it Bill has told me two things that show me how deeply they loved each other.

Bill and Margo are from a generation that seldom says out loud 'I Love You' to their family or loved ones, but that doesn't mean that they don't know what love is. The first sign was from Margo, who proclaimed her love for Bill from the grave. He is living alone now in the home that they spent their many years in, and he tells me that he is still finding notes from Margo around the house. Slipped under a couch cushion, in a kitchen cabinet, in the garage . . . all over the house he is finding love notes from Margo, who knew that she would be leaving Bill soon. The second sign of their love is Bill's bad back. Bill has had back pain for many years, progressively getting worse. He always walked much slower than the rest of the mall walkers, but this last year his pain was so intense that his pace barely qualified as walking. Today I just finished walking with Bill, and instead of dragging his right foot to shuffle ahead, he was lifting both feet and walking much faster. Astonished, I asked about it, and he explained that his daughter had been taking him to a doctor who was giving him some treatments that were helping. He explained that Margo had wanted him to get help for his back but he refused to even see a doctor about it because of his fear. No, he wasn't afraid for himself, but for Margo. He told me that if he had treatment for his back there was a chance that the treatment might cripple him instead of freeing him from the pain. Bill refused to get treatment because if he was crippled, who would care for Margo? So he endured the pain in silence . . . no, I lie . . . he complained about his pain at every opportunity. But the point is that he would rather endure the pain than endanger his caring for Margo through her last years of suffering with cancer. That's love.

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