Saturday, October 18, 2008

Convergences: 1982 Gold

In a cool convergence, three Americans were awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in 1982: Joe Louis, Louis L'Amour and Fred Waring. Cool to me, anyway, in that Joe Louis symbolically represents Detroit, my father is a big fan of Louis L'Amour, and Fred Waring was based for a very long time in Shawnee, Pennsylvania -- which also has a family connection.

In a nutshell, Joe Louis left a boxing and civil rights legacy; Louis L'Amour, prolific writings on the American frontier and many other subjects; Fred Waring, music from the Great Depression and World War II and beyond, and the Waring Blendor (yes, that's the right spelling).

Many of Louis L'Amour's novels have been made into movies. For example, L'Amour's Shalako (1962) became Shalako (1968), directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring none other than Sean Connery in the title role (with Brigitte Bardot at his side, and also featuring Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins, and Honor Blackman of The Avengers and Goldfinger fame).

How did Joe Louis, Louis L'Amour and Fred Waring come to receive a Congressional Gold Medal in the same year?

The Michigan Congressional delegation pledged their support for L'Amour -- if -- North Dakota pledged their support for boxer Joe Louis . . . Pennsylvania delegates pledged the same arrangement if North Dakota would support band leader Fred Waring, whose group for decades had been known as "The Pennsylvanians." As a result of such shenanigans, Congress voted medals to all three . . . (Robert Phillips, Louis L'Amour: An Unauthorized Biography, 1987, p. 167).

More posts on these interesting folks individually at some point, I suspect. (By the way, remember Warren Zevon's 1976 song "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," covered by Linda Rondstadt and others since? These strange lyrics always struck me: "She really worked me over good / She was a credit to her gender /She put me through some changes, Lord / Sort of like a Waring Blendor.")

Here's Joe Louis' fist, officially Robert Graham's "Joe Louis Memorial" (1986), in downtown Detroit at Woodward and Jefferson, not far from Marshall Fredericks' "The Spirit of Detroit" (1958).

Today's Rune: Partnership.


the walking man said...

I was surprised to see Joe Louis was buried in Arlington.

Man that fist is still controversial. I think it would be better facing inward towards the city county building. Maybe upright with middle digit raised and re-named "The People Speak to Government"

Anonymous said...

I like the fist of his father that Paul Newman used at the end of "Sometimes a Great Notion." Never give an inch.--Oscar Winner

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm a big fan of L'Amour myself. I wish I had more of his books that I haven't read but alas, I think I've read all of them except for a few short story collections.

dmarks said...

I saw that fist once. I looked around for the rest of the giant.

Charles: You can always start listening to them. I've listened to a few L'amour's recently.

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