Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pooka, Patty, Photos, Papers and Let's Ride

According to legend, the Púca is an adroit shapeshifter, capable of assuming a variety of terrifying forms. It may appear as an eagle or as a large black goat, but it most commonly takes the form of a sleek black or white horse with a flowing mane and glowing yellow eyes. In parts of County Laois, the pooka becomes a huge, hairy bogeyman who terrifies those abroad at night; in Waterford and Wexford, it appears as an eagle with a massive wingspan; and in Roscommon, as a black goat with curling horns. By the beginning of the 21st century, depictions and conceptions of the Púca have changed from a fierce, terrifying spirit to a harmless, shy, garden-gnomish. The Púca is a creature of the mountains and hills, and in those regions there are stories of it appearing on November Day and providing prophecies and warnings to those who consult it. The Púca has the power of human speech, and has been said to call those it feels have slighted or offended it out of their homes for a ride. If they fail to appear, it will tear down fences, scatter livestock, and create general mayhem. From popular culture Puck, the goat-footed satyr made famous in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” draws from the mythology.
___ From Monstropedia, the Monstrous Encyclopedia.

I had never really been around sick and dying people before but for some reason, I think I figured out, or sensed, that was what was happening to Don Wallace.
As I delivered the Durango Herald each day, he waited out there on the porch for the latest on Patty Hearst and smoked roll-your-own cigarettes. His moods varied wildly and he had that far-away look in his eyes.
Some days it would be a surly nod and a distant stare. Other times, obviously happy to engage anyone in conversation, he’d attempt a lame joke or tell me something that he heard on the radio and ask if I had anything about that in the paper. At times, some of his cronies would be there as well.
Ed Gould, a former newspaper man himself, occasionally would drop by with groceries, goats milk, tobacco, or perhaps a bottle of Black Velvet. Gould would disagree with almost anything Don said. It seemed purely by habit.
Don, who knew I lived across the street from his brother Walt Wallace, occasionally would ask me about stories I had heard from Walt, and not refute them but embellish or add details that cast him personally in a favorable light. It seemed almost competitive, the storytelling gene among the Wallace boys.
“In September 1975, a year and a half after her life had been so brutally altered, Patty Hearst was found in an apartment with two other SLA members and arrested by the FBI. They charged her with bank robbery. Her family hired the famous attorney F. Lee Bailey to defend her in court,” according to Katherine Ramsland in article about the controversial trial.
Bailey, who had defended Sam Sheppard and arranged a deal for Albert DeSalvo (the Boston Strangler), accepted the case with the requirement that he be granted book rights.
Don, and his visitors, often had a field day with the circus that the story had become.
I struggled with the weirdness of it.
How could a young woman from a rich and powerful family change so starkly in to bank-robbing terrorist Tania. The newspaper photographs were fascinating.
But the whole world was a little weird back in the mid-1970s.
It felt like we had somehow offended a force for order in our universe, and it was calling us out.
We had no choice in the matter either, if we didn’t go, it would tear down our fences, scatter our livestock and generally create mayhem.
Whether we wanted to, or not, we were all going for a ride.

Please click below to see related posts:

• Tales of the future, straight from the horse's mouth.

• Smooth and comfortable on the right side of gate.

• Humor, sadness and the angry bear in a trap.

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