Fly catching: You're doing it wrong.
Hands up if you remember Mr. Furley! Aaaand, yep. That's everybody. Mr. Roper was lame when compared to Furley. I mean, sure, Roper got a spinoff, but Furley was the bomb-diggity.
His leisure suits were the best.
Wow. It's 2015 already. That means I'm coming up on my 15 years anniversary working for my current job. And it's 15 years since I moved away from Philadelphia. And it's almost my birthday. Coincidentally, my work anniversary falls on my birthday.
I have big plans for this years birthday, too. It's a Saturday, and what better way to celebrate than by spending the day in a training class? It'll be 8 hours Saturday and about 6-8 hours Sunday. But it'll be worth it. For me, at least. For others, well, they might think it's dumb.
This year our sportsmans club is hosting a local schools trap team. But to do that, the kids need coaches. We have 20 kids already signed up on the team, and we'll probably get another 5 to 10 before the season starts in April. The state requires one coach/advisor for every 10 kids. The school has 2 coaches, so there are three of us from the club getting certified. The certification isn't to be a coach, though. It's to be a shotgun instructor. Yup, two days of training is all it takes to become a Level 1 Certified Shotgun Instructor.
That means, legally, I can teach people how to shoot shotguns and get paid for it.
But it's more of a safety thing. There will be a total of five of us certified to handle the kids. The three of us from the club won't be actual coaches, instead we'll be advisors. That way we don't have to go through an approval process with the school board and all that. It's just less of a hassle. And we aren't side-stepping the board at all. It was a board members idea that we be advisors instead of full fledged coaches. Plus it fills the states requirements.
I have to admit, I'm jealous of these kids. They have the opportunity to earn a letter in trap. If they offered that when I was in high school, I might have been an athlete. Plus, not many jocks were going to be dumb enough to pick on you when you're wearing a letter jacket for shooting.
So....what day is it today? I'm all messed up because of the holidays. Now, if my brain is back to a functioning state, I do believe it's Monday. And that makes it Made Up Monday! I'm going to tell you a tale, and you tell me if it's true.
You might call me crazy, (you wouldn't be the first), but I think one of the greatest actors of all time is Mr. Jesse Donald Knotts. You know him as Don. Or Barney. Or Mr. Furley. Or Mr. Limpet. Or any number of other names. He specialized in comedy, but was capable of being a serious actor. He didn't have many serious roles, though. Why would you waste such golden comedic talent on drama?
He often paired, in the movies at least, with another comedic genius, Tim Conway. You put those two together and the laughs were coming at you fast and furious. Part of what made that duo so good was, there was no straight man. Most comedy duos had a straight man, and the joker. Abbott to Costelo. Hardy to Laurel. Dick to Tom.*
Don also worked well with another actor, Andy Griffith. In fact, the two became best friends in real life. In the Andy Griffith Show, Don played the deputy Barney Fife to And Griffiths Sheriff Andy Taylor. This was supposed to be a reprisal of their roles in the movie, 'No Time For Sergeants', where Griffith was the comedic lead and Knotts was the straight man. But by the time they started filming the second episode, Griffith knew the Knotts was the one who should be funny and he should be the straight man. Thus was born bumbling Barney Fife.
In his later years, Knotts played many roles as a character actor. The most memorable was Mr. Furley on the show "Three's Company". He replaced Norman Fell and Audra Lindley, (they left to do their own show, 'The Ropers', which flopped), as the manager of the apartment complex where the show took place. He was originally only intended to have small, bit parts in just a couple of episodes, but the audience loved him, and his chemistry with the regular cast made them write him in as a major character.
It his series of movies from the 1970's that I remember him the most for. Those were the ones he starred in with Tim Conway. I'm not sure who loved those movies more, me or my mom. She would drop me off at the theater and I would watch the movie while she went shopping in peace. It wasn't unusual for me to see the same movie two or three weeks in a row!
Go ahead. Watch 'The Apple Dumpling Gang' or 'The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again', and just try to not enjoy them. You can't do it. It's like, one of the basic laws of physics that you have to like them. It's in our DNA, or something.
You know Don Knotts had to be huge in the comedy world because he was the featured guest star in not one, but TWO 'The New Scooby Doo Movies'. The only ones to be in more Scooby Doo Movies were the Harlem Globetrotters.
Yep, Don Knotts was a very funny guy. But now we have to move on to the real meat of todays post. This is the part where I'm going to tell you something and you tell me if it's made up, or if it's true.
Knotts was born in 1924. And like most men of that era, he served in World War Two. However, he didn't wait for the draft. In early 1940, he enlisted into the United States Marine Corps. At the time, he wasn't your typical Marine. He was scrawny and kind of goofy. But, and you can ask any Marine this, it's the small guys you need to watch out for. Everyone expects the big guys to be the tough ones, but more often than not, the small, scrawny guys are the ones you need to watch out for.
Knotts did extremely well in the Marines. And, after two years of service, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the US declared war, Knotts was given a new job; He was transferred to Paris Island South Carolina and became a Drill Instructor. That means, he was the hard-ass who turned flabby civilians into hard charging cogs in the mighty Marine engine.
You can forget everything you know about Knotts at this point. While he was never a bulky man, his scrawny appearance hid a true warrior. He quickly became a fierce instructor who took his job very seriously. He had to; the boys he was training were going to the Pacific to fight, and for some of them, to die. Veterans who trained under him compared him in later years to the drill instructor portrayed by R. Lee. Ermey in 'Full Metal Jacket'. Many of his Marines called him "a mean son of a bitch".
After the war, he credited his time in the Marines for his comedy skills. He said that he had spent enough of his life in the serious task of preparing young men for war that he intended on making people laugh for the rest of his life.
And he did.
So peep-holes, am I lying or not? Was Don Knotts a USMC drill instructor or not? The answer will be revealed tomorrow.
* Tom and Dick Smothers, The Smothers Brothers.