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Cloud over the holiday season
Written by Bill Baird   
Friday, December 28, 2012 6:47 PM

Although you are reading this after Christmas, I wrote it the week before due to my early deadline. For perhaps the past 40 years at our family Christmas get-together I have made the statement that it would be my last Christmas. So far I have been wrong, but you have to admit that the odds of me being correct are getting better.
At this season of peace and joy, the recent murder of 20 first-graders and their teachers and principal puts a cloud of sadness over our own Christmas joy even if all is well with families and friends.

Liberals will demand banning guns. That would be great if it were possible, but it isn’t. A gun ban would keep law-abiding citizens from obtaining guns, but the criminals and drug addicts would still get them like they do now.

Our federal government apparently sold guns to Mexican drug dealers, and the attorney general apparently covered it up. If law-abiding citizens with a concealed weapon permit were more plentiful some of these shootings and mass murders could be reduced. We need to remember these grieving parents and grandparents in our prayers during the worst time of their lives.

My son paid a visit after my Nov. 5 birthday and gave me my belated gift. It was a well-used Lionel Baby Ruth box car from the middle 1930s he bought at a hobby shop in Franklin, Tenn. My total number of these cars is 10, ranging in poor to excellent condition.

One is from 1933, six from the middle 1930s, and three from 1938 to 1941. I was on the phone with my son and we were on Ebay. He has an account and we were bidding on my Christmas present. A guy in Pennsylvania had a late Baby Ruth car and Sunoco tank car like new. We got the tank car, but lost out on the Baby Ruth car.

The tank car is in excellent condition and shows little wear. It must have been put out for Christmas and boxed the rest of the year. The original box was included but is in poor condition. I now have three Shell tank cars and two Sunoco from the late 1930s.

I am beginning to get into the Christmas spirit. I got 42 cards sent to those on my list. I received a nice card from my favorite child star Marilyn Knowlden. I also got a nice gift of four great detectives DVDs from Dave and Linda Bonkowski in Manchester, Mich. I never before saw these gems from my childhood.

Eddie Quillan (1907-1990) plays Detective Ellery Queen in The Mandarin Mystery (1936). From 1926 to 1987, Quillan appeared in 213 films and television roles. His best role has to be Connie Rivers in The Grapes of Wrath (1940).

He sang Going Down the Road Feeling Bad at the campgrounds and was going to be a radio expert from an ad in a magazine.

English actor Arthur Wontner (1875-1960) plays the title role in The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes (1935). This was Wontner’s fourth out of five roles as Holmes from 1931 to 1937, before Basil Rathbone (1892-1967), who we all remember, got the role.

Bulldog Drummond Escapes (1937) stars Ray Milland (1905-1986) in the title role. He went on to become a great actor and one of my favorites. Mr. Moto’s Last Warning (1939) stars Peter Lorre (1904-1964), who was born in Austria/Hungary, as the Japanese detective Mr. Moto. He was in 113 roles in good and bad films from 1929 to 1964.

Incidentally, Going Down the Road Feeling is older than me. It is sung by Eddie Quillan as Connie Rivers in my favorite film The Grapes of Wrath (1940), which was about the Oklahoma share croppers’ plight during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and their trek west to California.

Oklahoma-born American folk musician and song writer Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) was an uncredited musical consultant for the film. He selected the old song as a typical Okie song.

Tuesday, Dec. 18, my wife was taken to Mercy Hospital by the Whitewater Township life squad and West-JAD with unknown problems. Remember her in your prayers because this most perfect wife of 59-plus years is the best thing that ever happened to me.  

Bill Baird is a Whitewater Township resident who writes a weekly column about old movies and Hollywood trivia.