Tuesday, July 12, 2005

From Tintagel to Dodge City

While stationed in England with the USAF in the late 60's I was able to visit a lot of historic sites across the British isles and mainland Europe. One of the locations I went back to several times was Camelford and Tintagel area along the Cornish coast. King Arthur's Castle (actually Tintagel castle) is the attraction there - what little is left of it. It's worth a visit if you are ever in the area though heaven only knows what the area is like nowadays given the changes I've seen elsewhere around Britain!

I digress. The point I was going to raise here has to do with what the Cornish have done with their history. Driving along the A39 and looking west toward the Atlantic coast, one comes to Camelford and thence farther west to the coast at Tintagel. Back then, Tintagel was a charming little Cornish sea coast town and probably still is pretty much that way today in spite of McDonalds and Pizza Hut. What catches the eye however is the way that the Cornishmen, and in particular the Tintagians, have made hay with their history. Nevermind that there is absolutely no proof that Tintagel castle is, in truth, the famed and fabled castle of King Arthur in Camelot! Never mind that there really isn't very much left of the close to 1,500 year old ruin of the castle itself! Nevermind that there is considerable doubt that Arthur, Camelot, (Guinevere, Lancelot, Mordred, Merlin and the lot) ever existed! The locals have embraced the story completely and made it their passion - their heart and soul - their very livelihood!!

Every building from store fronts to private houses and even some temporary structures fairly shouts the legend! Arthur Slept Here! (B & B), Merlin's Tea Room!, Lancelot's Garage!, Guinevere's restaurant! There is almost literally no place untouched by the chance to whisk away a few "bob" from the mesmerized tourist! There are even local folks walking about town in Arthurian costume, armor and fine dresses ready to lead you to their business establishment!

Overdone, you say? Chintz? Glitz? Not a bit of it!! The hospitality is marvelous. I returned a number of times just to sample the flavor of people who so happily tried to bring the Camelot/Arthurian myth to you. It was a joy to find a room above the little "King's Arms" pub, enjoy a "Steak and Kidney pie a la Merlin" and rub elbows with the locals over a pint or two of the local bitters. Everyone you spoke to had a story about the castle and the legend. Of course most, if not all, were completely imaginary, but who cared? It was fun to spend a couple of days wandering along the cliffs near the ruins sort of mentally floating away to that long ago time in myth, legend and chivalry... of gentlemen Knights and lovely ladies...

Back to earth. The good people of Tintagel live pretty well. Their economy is based soley on the tourist trade. Lately, I see they have started appealing to surfers and other such riff-raff, but they do very well financially, thank you very much.


How about it, Dodge Citians? We don't even have to dream up imaginary legends. We've got everything we need to do exactly what the Cornish have done at Tintagel! We've got world wide name recognition, *real* history - Wyatt Earp! Bat Masterson! Doc Holliday! What more could we ask for??!! What an unbelievable Gold Mine we are sitting on here! Just take a page from the Tintagel book! Think what we could do with our economy if we just embraced our past and learned how to chat with strangers and tell them stories of the Old Dodge City that they came here to find!

Keep yer cinch up snug, pardner!!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Two little white dogs....

Coming home to two small dogs is good for the ego. It matters not how difficult my day may have been or that I might have scolded them for some infraction of household etiquette that morning. All is forgiven. It is always an uplifting experience to be greeted at the door by two little 20 pound furballs of excitement, leaping around and giving off squeals of delight due merely to my presence. Why do they do this? Certainly their little brains aren't so feeble as to be unable to remember when you left. Are they really that incredibly attached and devoted to you?

Many writers have pondered this phenomena. Every year I buy a calendar with tear off pages and each page has a quote on it concerning these amazing little tonics for the human ego. But none of the observations therein, even from the literary greats, begins to capture the moment. You have to get down on your hands and knees and be one of them for a minute - absorb yourself in their licks and nuzzles as they welcome you back to the den, pushing and shoving to get closer to you as if they would be happier yet if they could crawl right inside your skin with you. Then and only then can you appreciate the boundless joy they have at the very sight and touch of you - the true depth of their love and dedication.

It's either that, or the fact that they can't fill their own food dishes......