Deliverance… differently. Wherein Fr. Z might reminisce.

If I am not mistaken, today is the 40th anniversary of the movie Deliverance.

Plinga pling pling pling.

On the same day, at Wimbledon Billie Jean King beat Evonne Goolagong.

In my own life, since that was the summer that Fisher met Spassky, I was highly attuned to the newspaper.  For myself, in tournament play, I had at my little age earned a rating.  In great anticipation I was set – in between running like a shoeless brown animal or riding horses bare-back without bridle, clinging to their manes and ears – to watch and play through these games with with my grandfather – himself a world level Bridge champion – with great attention.  The summer was hot and free.  I watched Julia Child and NASA missions. I met Dave McNally, and listened to short wave radio at night and distant trains whistles. I knew every kid and all their houses and yards.  I ate snow cones from a cousin’s traveling cart, kicked through the banks of hail from summer storms, and blew up stuff with fireworks. I had a bright green Sting-Ray bike with a white seat.  My hair was on fire and I was never going to die.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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37 Responses to Deliverance… differently. Wherein Fr. Z might reminisce.

  1. Central Valley says:

    I watched it last night on AMC or one of the cable channels.
    I to would listen on my radio shack short wave radio to Radio Moscow etc.
    I recall building model cars and planes and blowing them up with fire crackers.
    Very glad I lived when I did.

    [You and me both, pal.]

  2. fvhale says:

    Perhaps I was a little older. The summer of 1972 mean looking forward to my dealing with Vietnam. On June 8, 1972, just over a month before the World Chess Championship, the picture was taken of nine year old Phan Thi Kim Phuc running from her village with her skin on fire from napalm. I guess your “hair on fire” reminded me.

  3. God, Jesus, Savior, yes.

    There but for God’s grace…

  4. Kathleen10 says:

    So many memorable images from that time. Post-Woodstock. No matter how old I get, no matter how conservative, I never quite leave that identity completely. I was younger than the Woodstock crowd, but influenced by it all. “Alice’s Restaurant” made a huge impact. When I see the pictures, I still think to myself “those are my people”. I had neon yellow granny glasses and way long hair. Lots of music still takes me back to it in my mind and soul.

    Fr. Z., maybe you should write a book. I think your writing is very good.

  5. AnAmericanMother says:

    Oh, yeah, Alice’s Restaurant. We still play that every Thanksgiving in the car on the way to visit my in-laws. My kids know the entire thing almost by heart (amused tolerance of the old folks).
    I was a junior in HS and sweating out SATs, APs and getting into college. My future hubby was a junior at Ga Tech and in the ROTC program. But then Nixon stopped the draft (but he was in the pipeline – 10 year reserve obligation here we come). He was also an apprentice fireworks maker – helped Zambelli Bros. fire the Homecoming display on a reccy from Max Vanderhorck the founder of Pyrotechnics Guild Intl. Our first date was a Judy Collins concert.
    We were all huffy about “Deliverance” because we felt it didn’t reflect well on our relatives in NE GA and WNC.
    Wow that was all a long time ago.

  6. frjim4321 says:

    Amazing parallels.

    Was thrilled the Christmas I got my stingray handlebars and banana seat.

    Massively interested in NASA and had my Mom’s furniture turned on it’s back so I could sit in the capsule like John Glenn. Never flew quite as high as he did, but I have flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.

    Made crystal sets and listened to shortwave upstairs on the secret radio that received the audio of Dark Shadows unbeknownst to my Mom.

    Took apart radios, telephones and clocks. Was never too good at putting them all back together.

    Make an alarm clock out of a vacuum cleaner next to my bed to so I wouldn’t be late to serve 6:30 AM mass.

    Begged Sister to let me serve in 5th grade even though they didn’t start until 6th and she let me. She let me up in the choir loft and let me play the big pipe organ when I was in 6th grade.

    Played chess with my brother, went horseback riding in the U.P. of Michigan. Spent summers brown and shirtless and as much underwater as possible.

    Had a Nike Site at the end of our street and spent nights looking out the windows waiting for the bombs to drop.

    Loved those days.

    Reminds me of the final line of the incredible Rob Reiner film, “Stand By Me:”

    I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?

  7. frjim4321 says:

    Hmmm, the text editor ate my comment!

    Trying again:

    Amazing parallels.

    Was thrilled the Christmas I got my stingray handlebars and banana seat.

    Massively interested in NASA and had my Mom’s furniture turned on it’s back so I could sit in the capsule like John Glenn. Never flew quite as high as he did, but I have flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.

    Made crystal sets and listened to shortwave upstairs on the secret radio that received the audio of Dark Shadows unbeknownst to my Mom.

    Took apart radios, telephones and clocks. Was never too good at putting them all back together.

    Make an alarm clock out of a vacuum cleaner next to my bed to so I wouldn’t be late to serve 6:30 AM mass.

    Begged Sister to let me serve in 5th grade even though they didn’t start until 6th and she let me. She let me up in the choir loft and let me play the big pipe organ when I was in 6th grade.

    Played chess with my brother, went horseback riding in the U.P. of Michigan. Spent summers brown and shirtless and as much underwater as possible.

    Had a Nike Site at the end of our street and spent nights looking out the windows waiting for the bombs to drop.

    Loved those days.

    Reminds me of the final line of the incredible Rob Reiner film, “Stand By Me:”

    I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I was a toddler and hadn’t moved into my own room yet, so I was still sleeping on the bunk beds in my brothers’ room while my younger brother slept in his crib in there.

  9. Hieronymus Illinensis says:

    If the draft came back today, singing a line of “Alice’s Restaurant” in harmony wouldn’t do any good. I guess that’s called progress.

    Fifteen at the time, spent the summer pedaling around town on a 9-speed (3-speed rear sprocket with a 3-speed hub). My intent, alas, was no longer innocent.

    Never saw Deliverance, too young at the time, and from what allusions were made to it in my presence, I wasn’t going to want to see it. Read the book a few years later. However, looking now at the clip above, can you see its pro-life significance? (But why did they call it “Dueling Banjos” when it was a banjo and a guitar?)

  10. FXR2 says:

    Father Z,
    For what it’s worth I was still in a southern NJ Parrish serving mass for a priest who was still saying the Lavabo etc. under his breath during the ordinary Novus Ordom mass. Things were Novus Ordo, but not quite. I did nor understand what out pastor was saying when he said in saecula saeculorum under his breath during the Lavabo and other prayers. . This Pastor truly had problems with the new mass. I was lucky enough to realize what they were.


  11. Desertfalcon says:

    The movies were much better then. That is a certainty, and the music. The television as well, I think. ’72 was a bit before I knew what was going on in the world, but just by a bit. I watched any space mission and remember the Tang containers that you could put in the oven and they would melt into the shape of an Apollo command module. I watched Julia Child and Firing Line. I even watched Louis Rukeyser, even though I have never had any interest in money. I do remember listening to the BBC on my short-wave. I hadn’t thought about that in years until reading this!

  12. jflare says:

    I’d heard the song before, many times.
    I hadn’t known it might’ve come from a movie.
    When I have a bit of cash to spend, perhaps I should find a copy.

    (‘Course I probably should find a copy of E.T. and Annie as well. I’m JUST old enough to remember when those movies were new. It’d be neat to see them again.)

  13. Supertradmum says:

    In 1972, I moved into a lay community where I stayed for seven years and it was a very important part of my formation. I was in Iowa, but moved within a relatively short period of time to Minneapolis. I, sadly, was thinking of death much earlier than you, having lost a brother and sister before I was eight, and two more siblings before 1972. I was doing Montessori training and thinking about going to Notre Dame to get a degree in Liturgy. Wow, was I spared pain and agony missing that opportunity! It was hot in Iowa, as well, and I remember my brothers bicycling over to see me, one about your age, on his banana-seat bike. I had a classical guitar from Brazil made of rosewood and was learning to play. The banjo was not on my horizon. I did not watch any television from 1971 to 1979, can you imagine? I did follow the news, but radio was still “in”.

    That was the year I realized America was changing too fast and away from basic principles, which is one reason I was in community. We did outreach and street evangelization, as well as being very disciplined at prayer and following the life of virtue. We were not falsely optimistic and could see the clouds on the horizon that were to envelope the Church. I was with people and had excellent spiritual directors all aware we were on the cutting edge of the growing kulturkampf. I also was in the process of discerning a vocation and made a year celibate commitment with my spiritual director, which I extended later to four years, and was concentrating on Christ. Formation years. Very busy. As to music, I was into Mahler, big time, being a young, intense person.

  14. AnAmericanMother says:

    You really were on the cutting edge – I wasn’t looking beyond the envelope from the registrar and hoping it was thick not thin. I guess because we were in the South and our extended family was ferociously protective of us kids, a lot of the stuff that proved to be world-altering seemed very distant.
    I recently got into Mahler through des Knabens Wunderhorn and Fischer-Dieskau. But I still don’t “get” the symphonies.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    AnAmericanMom, I feel as if my entire life has been in the trenches in some way, as I was always in the midst of the spiritual warfare. One reason was that my diocese was so liberal, on the forefront of New Age before it was called that; and, another was that the Midwest was going the way of all flesh-especially with regards to the sexual and political revolution. Before my conversion, I actually knew some of the lawyers of the Chicago Eight, who wanted me to do a law degree and join them. God spared me. Drugs and Communism poured out of Chicago and infected the colleges and universities. Another is that Minneapolis, even in the ’70s, was a mecca for the lgtbs. God let me be thrown in at the deep end for my many sins. Coming from a perspective of the light of the Gospels and the truth of the Holy Catholic Church, I could not help but see the differences. Also, I was the last generation to experience classical education in high school and college. Remember that the Land of Lake’s document came out in 1968, which showed the future of Catholic higher education in America was at a dangerous crossroads. Thomas Aquinas College and the other colleges came out of this mess. The movement away from the Latin Mass created an explosion of abuses, which those of us who were graced by God to withstand, after some bad experiences, which I myself in ignorance contributed to at first, made many of us in those days ready for a return to orthodoxy in the Liturgy, in the classroom and from the pulpit. By 1979, I knew the only way was back to the pre-Vatican II days, but the road was hard and so many of us ignorant, needing to learn the real truth about the sacraments and liturgy. The trouble, I am afraid, was that while some of us young lay persons could see this, most of the clergy could not and we still had blind spots. Remember, too, that while Fr. Z was eating snow cones (envy) and while God was preparing him for his future, global ministry, Roe v. Wade was in the making and happened in 1973. And, in my diocese, Humanae Vitae was actively being suppressed and ignored.

  16. Monica says:

    Lovely, Father Z.
    I turned 9 in 1972 and remember that flying-hair-on-fire feeling very well. It seems we are old so much longer than we are young…

  17. FloridaJoan says:

    Kathleen10 is spot on Fr; you have great writing skills ! This reads like the opener to an autobiography !

    pax et bonum

  18. Mike says:

    I was 11 in ’72. Went to DC with family the week of the Watergate Break-in, got my elderly grandfather to bring fireworks home on the plane (he’s now out of reach of the FAA), we raised rabbits, did a little muskrat trapping, rode our bikes everywhere, watched the Three Stooges on channel 38 in Boston…7 or 8 years later, watched “Firing Line” and became a conservative, hated public school but loved my Latin teacher, who wore wooden clogs to class and could translate Vergil with joy and references from the Red Sox to Dickens….we had lots of freedom in the 70s, and nearly no guidence from the pulpit….Lord, thank you for your countless mercies!

  19. Mark Scott Abeln says:

    I turned 10 years old in 1972, and I remember Deliverance. I saw it at the theater, although I was too young and found it terrible. That was a bad time for cinema for children — roughly from 1968 to 1977 — when films had dark themes aimed at adults, and the former stalwarts of children’s films, such as the Walt Disney Studios, produced cheap, poor quality fare.

    I still remember fondly the freedom I had as a child, biking about the area on my purple Sting Ray, exploring the roads often seen, but never traveled upon, while riding in the family car. And how could I forget fireworks? My favorites were bottle rockets; I never was particularly fond of blowing plastic models — after all, I put so much effort into constructing them — but did enjoy launching things into space. Sewer pipes were excellent tracks for the rockets, and the underground explosions made a satisfying muffled thump.

    The only blot upon my youth, unfortunately, was the public schools, which had very few bright spots, but I am grateful for a fine English teacher who taught me to write every day.

  20. NoTambourines says:

    These postings almost make me jealous of what I missed having been born in the late ’70s. I was a child of the ‘early/mid ’80s. We had: My Little Pony. Jelly Shoes. He-Man and She-Ra. Wacky Wall-Walkers. Smurfberry Crunch, and Sugar Smacks, before they were Honey Smacks. Curling irons and mall hair, acid-washed jeans. Jennings, Rather, and Brokaw on the evening news. Michael Jackson, Debbie Gibson, and glam metal. Pac-Man, Centipede, Donkey Kong, and old-school Nintendo.

    Oh, and Weird Al. Lots and lots of Weird Al in my formative years. Good times!

  21. Cornelius251 says:

    Forty years ago, I was known by God alone.

    Father, do I gather that you had red hair? If so that makes three of my favorite priests. I myself have bright red hair.

  22. Rich says:

    I was not yet born at this time, but I can share in similar reminiscing. I recently played with fireworks and set my hair on fire.

  23. NoraLee9 says:

    I was 12 in 1972. I had discovered the Catholic Church across the street and had started attending. I had expected Latin and was very disappointed when there was none. I was babysitting for the summer. I took that money and bought my first 10 speed. I discovered whiskey and did a little drinking for the first time, a bad habit that has followed me for 40 years, in and out of “rooms.”. I played in the long grass with Cathy and Sarah, making forts and getting bitten by mosquitoes. I went to Lake Ontario and stayed in a cabin at Selkirk with my sister, her hubby and my nephew. I saved his life that summer when his raft was headed for the rocks in a five foot swell and thinking myself unkillable, I dived in to tow him to shore. I remember hiking with him the next day and singing those awful Wings’ songs that played that summer.
    I also went to Oneida with my parents and stayed in the 7 Dwarf Inn. I rode the rides and ate at the Seashell Restaurant, sitting in a wicker chair which hung from the ceiling.
    As fun as all that was, I’d rather be here now…

  24. Jbuntin says:

    I had just turned 18, and married for a whole year, expecting the birth of my first child in September ’72. My father was still living and I was still “daddys girl”: two years later he was dead and nothing would ever be good again. That’s when God started to work on me. He let me be angry for years, 37 years to be exact, and He still loved me when I finally caved and told Him just how much I needed Him and wanted him.

  25. AnAmericanMother says:

    That’s an occupational hazard. That’s why the Green Man had a wreath of leaves on his head – to catch the sparks.
    Just wear a hat, it’s a little less outre’ than the wreath.

  26. acardnal says:

    RE Bobby Fischer, a new paperback biography was recently published about him entitled End Game by Frank Brady.

  27. iowapapist says:

    I saw Deliverance at the theater when it came out-it was quite disturbing. This is also the 40th anniversary of the birth of the band Newgrass Revival. I heard them do “Great Balls of Fire” and was inspired to teach myself to play the 5-string banjo. It was a time of some truly memorable music. Gram Parsons, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Joe Cocker and many others. I long for the time when Watergate was the only scandal in which the president was implicated.

  28. pj_houston says:

    Squeeaal like a pig!

    That’s actually a line from the movie, and not Obama’s campaign slogan.

  29. Sword40 says:

    I just don’t relate to any of this. I was busy raising a family and working my fanny off to pay the bills.
    I remember the song being played on the radio but not the movie. So when I played the thing I was a little shocked at the language near the end.
    Guess I had my “head in the sand”.

  30. Kathleen10 says:

    I loved reading all these. Great stuff.

    I must toss in, my Dad was disabled with a heart condition, and we had little money. But Dad took me to our local bike shop, and pointed up to the high wall where they all were in grand display, and he said “pick one out and you can have it”. What that meant to me, I cannot tell. I rode around on my hot pink glittery bike with the banana seat and streamers on the handlebars, like it was a Rolls Royce. My daddy bought me that bike and the memory of it lasts.
    Jumping out of trees with a towel on my back, thinking the next time I would surely take off and fly like Superman (no Superwoman at the time, and I didn’t need her). Using real caps in our cap guns, or sitting on the ground banging the caps with rocks. Fireflies, which we used to grossly rub on our fingers sometimes until they smushed and made a ring. (ew) Ice skating with all our neighborhood friends, on ponds so big it’s a wonder at least some of us didn’t disappear, but the ice was thick! We limped home on frozen toes. My dolls! Which I still have. Reading, reading, reading, Little House in the Big Woods, or Pippi Longstocking! Peanuts comics. Richie Rich, Archie, Superman and Batman comic books. Green Lantern, before he knew he was gay. My dogs and cats, and riding our neighbor’s horses! Just go to their house, tack and saddle up a horse, and off I’d go, by myself at 12, into the woods and trails. Neighbors didn’t mind, and I bet there was no thought at all about liability. They had horses and they kindly shared them with a tiny freckle-faced red haired girl, or anybody who stopped by. Good people with good hearts.

  31. yatzer says:

    In 1972 I was coping with fixing up our first house while caring for the first baby. We didn’t have money for movies, but I enjoyed the song knowing nothing about the movie behind it. It was challenging making meals for us for a week on about $20 at the grocery. I still know more ways to fix chicken necks, canned tuna, and ground beef than anything else. We also didn’t have a dryer for all those diapers, or a TV that worked very well. The baby was more fun to play with anyway.

  32. bookworm says:

    In 1972 I was 8 years old. I remember my parents taking me and my brother to Chicago to tour the Museum of Science and Industry, and traveling by train (at the insistence of my brother, a huge train buff) when passenger trains still ran through our hometown. My favorite exhibit was, of course, Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle.
    I didn’t much like school because other kids were wont to pick on me. However, I did like my third-grade teacher, who was Miss “H” the first half of the school year and Mrs. “B” the second half, because she got married during Christmas vacation.
    Early that fall we had a lesson that concerned telephones and how they operated. One of the kids said he’d heard about devices that allowed you to listen in on other people’s phone conversations and wanted to know if they really worked. Sensing a “teachable moment,” she explained what bugging devices were, and how that business called “Watergate” we’d been hearing about on the news involved them. And that was my introduction to current events….

  33. frjim4321 says:

    I will never click “preview’ again, because yesterday when I did the blog client ate my comment and I could never get it back.

    Anyway . . . there are some uncanny parallels here. I also totally loved NASA growing up and my dear Mother patiently allowed me to tilt her best chair onto its back so I could pretend to be in my own Mercury capsule like John Glenn. I was a Sputnik baby, and in first grade I drew airplanes on the actual top of my desk much to the chagrin of Sister Marie Jose. I never flew as high as John Glenn, but I have indeed flung my own eager craft through footless halls of air.

    Radio stuff too. Built a few crystal sets and a short wave – a very special short wave that enabled my sibs and I to listen to the audio of the forbidden “Dark Shadows” when our Mom thought we were upstairs doing out homework.

    We also spent the summer shirtless, brown, and in the water as much as possible, particularly up in the U.P. in Curtis. We did our vacations late in August, which made going back to school so painful!

    The Christmas I remember most was when my Dad hid the Stingray hi-ride handlebars deep under the tree, and the banana bicycle seat as well. I loved that bike with all my heart.

    We lived with a Nike Site at the end of our street and I spent many of those nights looking out the window waiting for the bomb to drop. It was a heck of a great childhood and I would not trade it for anything. My friends Ricky and Timmy from the end of the street and I souped up Radio Shack walkie talkies by forcing more voltage into them and we could talk to each other about a half mile apart and we thought we were on top of the world.

    Reminds me of the great closing line of Rob Riener’s amazing little film, “Stand By Me:”

    ”I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?’

  34. Angie Mcs says:

    I had just returned to Chicago from California where I had spent 6 months looking for a job, living off the kindness of friends and often needing to make a decision between a room to stay and a meal. I definitely did my share of stupid crazy things from that era. . However, I was sensible enough to take up my parents kind offer to move back in with them so I could go back to college and finish my degree. I do remember meeting a young man at university who was attending with help from the GI bill, having just returned from Vietnam. He was quiet and sad and didn’t want to speak much about his experiences. But I did tell him I was grateful for what he did and sorry he had to go through that and come home to be treated so badly by other Americans, The college campuses were nasty environments and I always felt that no matter how one viewed the war, these young men deserved a better homecoming. I still think of him and hope my words gave him some small amount of comfort. As far as the movie “Deliverance” I could never bring myself to see it and never will – too many triggers of a horrible experiences from mynown life. . Perhaps that’s why I reached out to that young soldier. In any case, today, as a new Catholic, I am still extremely grateful to my guardian angel and the path which eventually brought me to our beautiful Church and our Lord. We all find that path home in our own ways.

  35. JonPatrick says:

    In 1972 I was just finishing up USAF Electronics school and on my way to my first assignment at Cannon AFB in Clovis NM. Courtesy of Uncle Sam I was getting to travel to a lot of parts of the US that I’d never seen, growing up in Old England, Canada, and New England.

    In the military you had time on your hands and movies were cheap, so I saw a lot of them, Deliverance, The Last Picture Show (which I saw a week before moving to that part of the country), and even Catch-22 (I was a little surprised that that movie made it to a military facility).

    Shortly after I got in, Nixon started winding down the Vietnam War so I never had to go to SEA thank God.

  36. jaykay says:

    I was 11, just going on 12 that summer. My best friend and I built a tree-house in the big ash tree, which was in the boundary between our parents’ houses, with old left-over timber (well, some of it not so old and left-over, as his father was not slow to point out to us!). It was quite high up, too, maybe about 15′ – 20′, and only we two and our mutual best friend (a girl) knew all the right branches to hang onto to get up to its trapdoor in the floor. We spent hours up there, reading quite a lot, actually, and dodging the showers – it was one of the wetter summers in Ireland, as I recall. I waterproofed the roof by “liberating” what I thought was some discarded plastic sheeting from our garage… then I had to take it off again in a hurry to be used to cover the baggage on the roof-rack when the family went on holiday, with the result that the plywood floor got soaked and slowly started to disintegrate. Not that that stopped us using it – we just had to avoid certain spots.

    Other memory is of being chased by a large herd of cows down a hill. Cows can run fast, by the way, especially downhill. Luckily we were faster.

  37. robtbrown says:

    I didn’t see the movie until the early 80′s.

    1972: In early Spring 2 friends from KU went to Italy and France. In the summer another friend and I joined them in Paris. We followed the Fischer-Spassky match in the International Herald Tribune. In August the four of went to the Abbey of Fontgombault, having heard of it a few months before from a priest visiting Lawrence, Ks. We were four crazy recent college grads who asked whether we could spend some months there. And the abbot of the most conservative monastery in the West said yes. In the years following other young men spent some months at the abbey, and some became monks. Finally, in 1999 Fontgombault made a foundation in Oklahoma. For I tell you that from these stones God can raise up sons to Abraham.

    BTW, I recommend “Bobby Fischer Goes to War”