Monthly Archives: May 2013



Ever been part of an old fashioned HOUSE RAISING?  Well, I was for Rendezvous friends Carolyn and Jon Houglum in Franklin, NC.  They did it just as the old homesteaders of long ago would have.  Carolyn very carefully documented all stages of it both pictorally and texually….even made a movie about it.  This will take you to their site where you can follow a most remarkable story from when they bought the property and began cutting wood and taking it to the little portable sawmill to make the lumber  all the way to the final product filled with the cabinets and furniture Jon built especially to the designs in the album Caroline had been filling with items and saving patiently for years.  When Son Josh graduated, they sold their home in Florida, retired and moved lock stock and barrel to Franklin to continue this saga.  Some folks came from all over the country for the original house raising that took about a week and saw the two stories and basement “dried in”.  They camped out in their Rendezvous tents, trailers, etc.  Carolyn made certain all had the greatest food and plenty of it.  Of course, “libations” of ALL kinds were available also, but ONLY after all work was called off for the day… you will see, some of the work was dangerous enough to require a COMPLETELY clear head, LOL.  I have noted the pages concerning myself, (I was able to go back a few times to help since I am only 3 hours away).  But, my first job was crew chief for the huMONgous porch about 15 feet in the air.  Thank the Lord I brought a trailerload of heavy duty scaffolding to leave with Jon for the entire project.  Now remember, all wood for the house and furniture was cut by John and Carolyn themselves.  Some pictures show the piles of it with “stickers” between each board to be sure it dried straight and true.  So, treat this as a small book and take the time to read the different entries and look at the pictures… will take you back in time as it did us.

Aside from being the Crew Chief for the porch which turned out to be the most fun place to sit and survey the beautiful scenery through the following years, I went back to help Jon with other things.  First, with Carolyn’s help, we put the trusses on the porch for the Tin Roof then put the tin on.  Other times, Jon and I put the ceiling up in the basement, I wired the main and sub electrical panels, we hung some cabinets, and a large ceiling lamp, we put in the heavy front door for the porch, we did some duct work, and I think the cricket on the chimney, there were other things, but you can see them if you click on the page numbers I have marked.  However, most of my friends have thought it more fun to just follow the whole saga and see where I pop up here and there. Here is the link to Caroline’s documentation.  Know what a “hooter” is?…….you WILL after reading this, LOL.

Here is the “labor of love” a few years after finished.  Next shows the first wall we put up, (you can see me in the bright pink shirt……..looks as if I alone am holding up the wall, (look closely, the braces are already nailed in, LOL)!  Next is me securing one of the braces for the 16 foot 6x6s used for the Porch supports.  I had a super “porch” crew.  Had NO idea Jon’s sisters would be so helpful.  Of course, Terry, Jon’s son, was just a little fellah when I first met him at Rendezvous.  He was a big strapping lad here and a tremendous help to me.  Miss you Terry!

Dream_Home_325 Years laterRaising east wall first oneKeith_Pg_7 brace for porch

Pages you can find me:  6  , 7  (yep that is me up there on the floor joists.  Third pic on this page shows me standing up there in a white shirt., 9 shows the porch sans railings but all flooring laid and secured, 10 I am in aqua blue short sleeves sitting on ground next to Jon,  11 temporary banisters for porch before heading home. 22 Jon and I finish the porch roof.  When I told Jon how we would cut the side boards off even for the rafter ledge, he didn’t like the idea of holding the skill saw sideways, pulling the guard back and sawing away….don’t blame him…….not the CORRECT way to use a skill saw….but I had done it many places for many years, so there is a picture of me doing that on this page…..main thing was to watch your step while doing it, LOL.  23 shows the porch finished and tells the Story of Charlie the Bear, (chain sawed by a friend of mine), and how I met Jon and Carolyn 19 years before then at one of Charlie Knight’s Dove Shoots. 31 shows the completed porch, (most of it), and beside the white door is a log stand with the little black bear we named Charlie.  40 shows Jon and me running the chimney pipe, Jon on that slippery roof with wet silicone on his shoes, and then showed Jon how to put up heavy OSB on the ceiling with two rather small people, (Jon and me), by building two “jacks”…..1×4 boards almost as high as the ceiling, with a 4 foot piece of 1×4 screw across the top……simple!  Then, as always, time for a drink and a nice rest on the porch before one of Carolyn’s scrumptious meals. 52 I wired the panel and subpanel, and Jon and I hung the kitchen overhead lamp.   I think that is the last I made it over there.  Had a big job in town and couldn’t make it to the first Houseraising Reunion, DARN!

So, this is how you build a house when you start with just a piece of land, LOL!  I had always wanted to do it that way, with the wall raisings, etc….but had never been able to.  This was a blast and a half and then some!  Don’t stop when the house is done….keep going and see how Jon used his red cedar lumber, the poplar, birch, oak, spruce, etc…….all made by…..well MADE by God, but prepared by Jon and Carolyn.  Most of the furniture is built by Jon for that same lumber.  They DID ORDER the old timey Stove which is really gas……not wood burning!  He built Carolyn some very beautiful furniture!  Oh, Jon is and has been for many years an excellent artist.  His paintings now hang in a good many NC galleries and he gives art classes at his studio and on YouTube!  Here is the link for his Art Site:





Posted by on May 31, 2013 in MY ARTICLES


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Monday, May 27…


Monday, May 27, 2013
Book Review: THREE BAD MEN: JOHN FORD, JOHN WAYNE, WARD BOND (2013, Scott Allen Nollen)

I’m a longtime fan of John Ford (who isn’t, really?), the patron-saint of Monument Valley, born-again Irishman, and director of some of the best-constructed, most thoughtful films to come out of Hollywood, from THE INFORMER to THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE to THE QUIET MAN to THE GRAPES OF WRATH.
John Wayne is, so to speak, John Wayne, though his work frequently transcends the “movie star” mold with a dancer’s grace and a touch of madness like in Ford’s THE SEARCHERS, Hawks’ RED RIVER, and Siegel’s THE SHOOTIST.
Then, there’s Ward Bond: a character actor extraordinaire who played brutes and cowpokes and priests and boxers across more than two hundred films. Though his supporting work with Ford and Wayne is why he’s included in this trio, my soft spot for him will always be his one and only shot at top-billing in 1942’s HITLER: DEAD OR ALIVE, a film that clearly inspired INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS and contains the fabulous spectacle of Ward slapping the shit out of Hitler himself …before proceeding to force-shave off his mustache!

Anyway, I just finished reading Scott Allen Nollen’s in-depth examination of the lives and work of these three cinematic giants, and I highly recommend it as a fascinating study for burgeoning old-Hollywood aficionados and serious fans of cinema alike. Chronologically tracing the intertwining lives of these three “good-bad men” who were not unlike the characters in their films (Ford directed Bond and Wayne in nearly thirty pictures each), Nollen is at once objective and affectionate in his analysis, and there’s a wealth of source material including documents, letters, telegrams, and plenty of rare photographs. There are riveting anecdotes (I may now actually be inspired to read Harry Carey, Jr.’s autobiography), some great yarn-spinning (including tales of Ward Bond’s brutish, high-flying, indecent-exposing, Wile E. Coyote-style antics and his ruining of a key scene in THE SEARCHERS when he unplugged the camera to plug in his electric razor!), and the work definitely touches on their peccadillos and absurdities, though never salaciously.

It’s deftly written and never dry; while many books of this kind become bogged down by academic posturing, Nollen remains true to the spirit of his subjects and opts for a two-fisted, no bullshit approach. I really appreciate how deeply he throws himself into the work, freely admitting “a meaningful (though a bit one-sided) conversation with a tombstone or two.” He’s as a film writer should be– intense, obsessive, and highly-focused; reverent without succumbing to hollow adulation.

The main drive of the work is the examination of the complex personal and working relationship between the three (though large swaths of the book are dedicated to advancing the underrated Ward Bond to his rightful place in the pantheon). None of these men could really be pinned down or branded with a particular stereotype– each had a volatile mix of id and ego (often sprinkled heavily with alcohol) that fused together to create a kind of perfect storm of filmic art.
The complex psychology of Ford’s relationships with the two men is indeed worthy of an entire volume– you see a strange kind of ownership emerge, resulting from Ford’s “discovering” of the two actors. This ownership was generally expressed in verbal (and often physical) sadism as Ford became master of his “whipping boys,” something which may have even tied into his potential bisexuality:

“Ford loved John Wayne and Ward Bond, but his true sexual orientation wasn’t something he would have discussed with them, or anyone else. When it came to his own life and psyche, Pappy [Ford] avoided the truth, exaggerated, lied, or just didn’t ‘have any goddamn idea.’ The positive emotions he felt for his two favorite actors and whipping boys may have been the underlying cause of his negative, sadistic treatment of them (and himself); but even a lifetime of psychoanalysis may not have ‘proved’ anything.”

Vindictive and controlling, Ford “froze out” Wayne for eight years when he appeared in a rival director’s Western (Raoul Walsh’s THE BIG TRAIL) and later, when Bond made serious forays into television (WAGON TRAIN) and Wayne tried to direct a picture of his own (THE ALAMO), Ford would sometimes install himself as a presence on set and attempt to undermine/co-opt the work therein. These behaviors even extended beyond the trio– he punched out Henry Fonda (!) on MISTER ROBERTS and made cruel, deliberate use of alcohol to wring earth-shattering, hungover performances out of the likes of Victor McLaglen in THE INFORMER and Woody Strode in SERGEANT RUTLEDGE.

Though he reveals these men “warts and all,” Nollen also paints a portrait of devoted friends and masterful artists whose lives and creative outlets meshed almost completely. (For instance, despite the abuse, Ford chose Bond to play his own alter-ego in the deeply personal THE WINGS OF EAGLES.)

Nollen takes on the accusations of racism in Ford’s films, and reveals his struggle to show all sides despite the constraints of the system– especially evident in films like THE SEARCHERS, SERGEANT RUTLEDGE, and CHEYENNE AUTUMN. He tackles the strange political spectrum of the men, too, with John Ford’s patriotic progressivism, Wayne’s conservatism, and Ward Bond’s ultraconservatism (and yet it was Ford who took his camera overseas into the crucible of World War II while Wayne and Bond remained in Hollywood). He doesn’t shy away from Ward Bond’s shameful behavior in the McCarthy era as a supporter of the blacklist:

“The social climbing Bond’s ultimate political affront to Ford involved an invitation to a party he was throwing for Senator Joseph McCarthy. His great mentor [Ford] simply answered, ‘You can take your party and shove it. I wouldn’t meet that guy in a whorehouse. He’s a disgrace and a danger to our country.'”

Bond’s involvement with the blacklist feels like a moral counterpoint to Ford’s extensive work with the U.S. armed forces in World War II and beyond, and much attention here is paid to his military career (I learned that in North Africa a Nazi actually surrendered himself to John Ford!)

Along the way, Nollen delves into a vast spectrum of material including Ford’s relationship with his older brother Francis (mentor, actor, and silent film director), Ford’s gleeful propensity for Chaucer/Shakespearean-style low comedy and his hilariously bizarre obsession with highlighting Ward Bond’s “horse’s ass” in shot compositions (“Although FORT APACHE is a serious examination of the mythology of the American West, it humorously can be branded Ford’s ‘ass-travaganza'”). Of particular interest to me were Ford’s work with Victor McLaglen (whose performance in THE INFORMER is one of the greatest in filmdom), his direction of genius child actor and later genre-movie legend Roddy McDowall in HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, Bond’s artistic process as unofficial show-runner on WAGON TRAIN, and the compelling, touching latter-day friendship between Ford and Woody Strode– and the book certainly has some genuinely emotional, poignant moments as the three “good-bad” men’s lives dwindle to a close.

In the end, it definitely gets you amped up to watch some John Ford films– I’ve probably seen at least two dozen or so at this point, but there’s still scores more I need to get my hands on, and there’s obviously some big gaps in my knowledge. For instance, since I’ve read THREE BAD MEN, MISTER ROBERTS, THEY WERE EXPENDABLE, 3 GODFATHERS, and WAGON MASTER have now leapt to the forefront of my queue.

THREE BAD MEN is published by McFarland (Order line: 800-253-2187), ISBN 978-0-7864-5854-7
Posted by Sean Gill at 10:47 AM 2 comments:
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Labels: 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, Book Review, John Ford, John Wayne, Roddy McDowall, War, Ward Bond, Western
Friday, May 24, 2013


Duke’s Birthday

Duke's Birthday

Happy 106th Birthday Duke! Hope You, Ward, and Pappy have a blast!

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Posted by on May 27, 2013 in MY ARTICLES


Book Review: Three Bad Men: John Ford, John Wayne, Ward Bond.

Third review out of the 23 I chose for Scott’s book. Scott says that Toby got exactly what he Intended to project! Check it out and don’t forget to leave a post for Toby…….probably will want to sign up for his blog, also. KEITH

50 Westerns From The 50s.


John Ford didn’t have much interest in discussing his creative process. Anybody who’s read a book or two on him knows he downplayed his incredible artistry (and sentimentality) at every turn, preferring to fall back on his reputation (deserved) as a mean old man who happened to make great movies.

Ford’s greatest collaborator, John Wayne, worked very hard to look like he wasn’t working at all. The fact that so many today think of Wayne as more a personality than an actor shows how well he succeeded.

Ward Bond was a natural, plain and simple. Over 200 films and a TV series, Wagon Train, certainly benefited from his style (or lack of style).

942276_10152879710740495_1097840882_nThe politics of these three men were as varied as their approach to their craft, but they formed a fast friendship that lasted for decades — from Wayne and Bond playing football at USC in the…

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Posted by on May 20, 2013 in THREE BAD MEN BOOK REVIEWS ETAL


Three Bad Men John Ford, John Wayne, Ward Bond by Scott Allen Nollen

This review is from Mike’s Film Talk. He saw Colin’s from Riding the High Country and has done a super job on this one without repeating Colin…..hard to do. Thanks Mike Sign up for His blog, and make sure you click on the Stars to show if you like it. KEITH

Mikes Film Talk


Growing up all three of these men were an integral part of my childhood. Specifically John “Pappy” Ford in the cinemas and of course John Wayne ‘Duke’ and Ward Bond as well, but Mr Bond had the added distinction of being in my folks’ living rooms each week as Major Seth Adams, in Wagon Train.

Of course, I saw all the films and television shows long after they were initially made. The films, I saw on Saturday night at the movies (usually accompanied by a huge bowl of popcorn and a tall ice filled glass of Coca-Cola) and the Wagon Train episodes I watched were the newer ones with John McIntire with the occasional re-run with Ward Bond in. Come to think of it, the McIntire ones were probably re-runs as well.

I do remember with perfect clarity that my family adored the John Wayne film Rio Bravo…

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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in THREE BAD MEN BOOK REVIEWS ETAL


Three Bad Men: John Ford, John Wayne, Ward Bond – Scott Allen Nollen

As I gathered the reviewers for Three Bad Men, I thought first of Colin from Riding the High Country. I have always found his film and actor reviews to be exceptional. However, he had never written a book review. I asked him anyway. Not only did he come out with the first one, but anyone will be hard pressed to provide as complete, fair, and accurate accounting of this
book as Colin has. If you don’t have him in your “favorites”, just read this…..he will be shortly! HAWKS WILL (KEITH)

Riding the High Country

Biographies and critiques of the work of John Ford and John Wayne abound to be perfectly frank. As such, any new volume on these men needs to offer some different spin on familiar material, another perspective if you like. Scott Nollen’s new book – Three Bad Men:John Ford, John Wayne, Ward Bond – does so by examining the lives and careers of not only Ford and Wayne but Bond too. It’s quite common to see works which examine the complex relationship that Ford and Wayne had but Bond tends to be given lower billing. While Nollen makes it clear that Ford was without doubt the prime mover, he also focuses on the significant role Bond played in the old director’s life and that of Wayne. In short, the book establishes just how inextricably these three men were linked on both a personal and professional level.

There is some background sketching…

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Posted by on May 10, 2013 in THREE BAD MEN BOOK REVIEWS ETAL



Ward Wagon Train     This is an article I posted on Facebook on the anniversary of Ward Bond’s death.  I post something about him every year.  The one in 2012 was called Wagonmaster 1950 and was originally posted on Speakeasy, an excellent blog by Katrina  She has one of the best articles on Ward Bond ever written.  Both articles are still on her blog and continue to receive comments.

51 years ago today, Duke (John) Wayne got a call from Terry Wilson, (Bill Hawks on Wagon Train).

He said, “Hold on……Ward just dropped dead”. The two men cried together as many would in the days to come. Ward Bond had died of a massive heart attack at a football game in Dallas where he had gone to make an appearance for a friend.

Pappy, (director John Ford), closed his movie set down and he, Ken Curtis, (Festus on Gunsmoke), and Harry Carey, Jr. flew to Dallas to bring Ward’s wife and him home. Ken and Harry who were both excellent singers sang at the funeral and were pall bearers along with Duke, Terry Wilson and Frank McGrath, (Wagon Train’s Charlie Wooster). Duke choked out a short eulogy which I only just found part of yesterday. In obvious distress, he said, “Ward and I were the greatest of friends from school days right on through. He was a wonderful, generous, big hearted man.” Short, simple, but it said it all. Terry Wilson was heard to say that Ward, “had a heart as big as this room”. Ward has been an Air Raid Warden since his epilepsy kept him out of the service, so he received a military funeral with flag draped coffin and full honors.

Ward had 250 pictures to his credit, including Gone with the Wind in 1939 and The Searchers which Terry and Frank were not only stuntmen, but Rangers, in the wedding party and the fight, and were in the dance scene also. They were seen in many of the movies directed by Pappy Ford. Before his death out of the 100 Great American movies, Ward was the actor in the most.

Duke said that Ward, Pappy Ford, and himself were a triumvirate… friends and did most everything together when possible. Ward was Duke’s best man, and Duke was Ward’s with Henry Fonda giving away Maisie…Ward’s bride. When Pappy Ford was dying, he called for Duke to come down to the Springs. As Duke sat by his bedside, Pappy asked, “Duke, do you ever think of Ward?” “All the time”, said Duke. Pappy then said, “Let’s have a little drink to Ward.” That was 13 years after Ward’s death…..Pappy died the next day.

Wagon Train was Ward’s greatest claim to fame. The four regulars, Ward, as Major Seth Adams, Bill, Charlie, and Flint built a special comradery on set that was never to be duplicated. Duke said, “Wagon Train may be able to replace him…..but I never will”. And neither will I. He was one H_ll of an actor and man. Hope you guys are as happy up there as you were down here and making movies for when, and if, I arrive!


Posted by on May 3, 2013 in MY ARTICLES