In the movie Lonesome Dove A scene involving Cap’n Call the trail boss and retired Texas Ranger played by Tommy Lee Jones, His Son Newt, Played by Rickey Schroeder, and a US Calvary unit, captured my imagination the first time I saw it and continued to make an impression, there after.
In the scene the army officer confronts one of the cowboys at the livery stable in town, and wants to requisition his horse. The cowboy tells the army officer the horse isn’t for sale and the officer, wanting to show his authority, infers that to refuse the army that particular horse would be treason, and proceeded to try to take the horse by force. When the cowboy is knocked down “Newt” grabs the reins and reiterates that the horse is not for sale. The Army scout at that time begins flogging Newt with his crop as the “Cap’n” is walking out of the store down the street. The Cap’n drops the sacks of corn meal he was carrying as he see’s his Son being flogged by the Army scout, jumps on his horse and at full gallope down the street and crashes into the Army scouts horse throwing the scout to the ground. What followed was one of the most intense and brutal exibititions of pure rage I had ever seen as the Cap’n first beat the scout with a branding iron then ran him head first into an Anvil. He then picked up a pair if tongs with deadly intent only to be roped by his friend Gus and after some rather fast talking and a lot of yelling to bring the Cap’n back to earth so to speak, the capt’n settled down checked Newt and everyone on his crew to make sure they were all right ,Mounted his horse and then calmly said to the startled onlookers” I hate rude behavior in a man,--------- I won’t tolerate it”.
So I was a Marine .Well shouldn’t say was you know once a Marine always a Marine anyway,when I came home from “ITR”(Infantry Training Regiment) for my leave right before going over To Viet Nam. My sister picked me up from the airport with a stranger in tow ,whom she introduced as her Fiancé. She proudly and innocently added that Rich was also in the service. If you know anything about Marines you know that they scorn all the other branches of the service and especially loath the lax, undisciplined, anybody can be one Air Force.
So I took one look at her brand new fiancé’s and said whats he in the Air Force ? She very apologetically said Yeeeeees. So we drive home and as soon as we walk in the house this new guy calls my Dad Dad. My blood boiled.
Keep in mind that I grew up on a farm where I was the only son. I had worked side by side with my Dad ever since I was six years old. I had weeded beans, in the hot August sun in the gumbo river bottoms, I had plowed and disced the fields from early morning till after dark, I had paid the price, over and over, for years, Where was this guy coming from where He thought that he had any right to call MY DAD Dad.
Years after that, I relayed the story to my daughters and apparently that story made an impression because at my oldest daughter Tracy’s wedding after my new Son In Law had kissed the bride and I offered my hand to shake he said well Dad and my daughter said -real hush hush, -Oh No you don’t want to call him that So he looked at me and said “well what do you want me to call you?” I looked him straight in the eyes and said You can call me cap’n.
The story doesn’t stop there, Fourteen years later, I am at my daughter and Son In Laws house and my middle daughter brings her new boy friend over to meet the family. In the course of the evening, while playing darts Kristy’s boyfriend calls me Cap’n.I guess when my Son in-law picked him up and threw him on top of the bicycles on the other side of the garage He found out the hard way that he hadn’t earned the right. Hmmm I guess my Son in law felt the same way I did all those years ago, and I understood. Of course that guy that happened to make that innocent mistake---well he never came around anymore go figure.