I spent a cold and wet Halloween driving back from the Davis Mountains and my mind drifted off on the subject of "idols." I'm not sure that I have any idols, but there are people in various fields whom I admire. When I look around at the present day idolization of various sports and entertainment figures, it makes me wonder what people use for the basis of their choices, other than media hype. To me, it is necessary to look not only at the accomplishments but at the actions of the individuals. I can admire the accomplishements of an individual while abhoring the actions. To me, celebrities who have risen to the top but who behave in reprehensible fashion are not to be admired or idolized.
These are some of the people whom I admire. Some of them are still with us, others are not. They come from many walks of life.
In football I can admire someone like Roger Staubach or Tom Landry. They excelled at what they while maintaining ethics and standards. They didn't throw women from windows, take drugs, beat up people or in other ways lead lives which would have had a less famous person spending an extended time in jail.
There are others in the sport, but I don't have time to list them all.
I am not a fan of boxing, but there are some boxers whom I find admirable.
Carmen Basillio retired undefeated with two titles and raised onions. He also did good work with kids. Carmen, you weren't much to look at, but you were a snappy dresser.
Mohammed Ali was a controversial figure, but he made the sport fun. He also stuck to his beliefs. He was screwed over by the powers that be, but we know he was the greatest.
Jack Dempsey put on the uniform during WWII and was a hell of a puncher. Jack, thanks for the kindness you showed another "coastie" and for the drink.
Oscar dela Hoya shows promise. He is a good fighter, seems to have his personal life under control and comes across as a nice guy.
Kate Smith wasn't much to look at, but she had a heart that wouldn't quit. When I hear her sing "God Bless America" my heart still swells, my spine straightens and my eyes tear. She was a fine lady and a very good person. Those of us who had the pleasure of watching her TV program knew what goodness was.
George M. Cohan and Irving Berlin wrote songs that make me feel good. They didn't write songs about wasted lives, screwing the system, cheating or hating. They wrote songs about fidelity, happiness, patriotism. It is a pity that their type of music is passe; it might help the kids today if they could listen to some of that music.
Jimmy Stewart also put on the uniform during WWII, and continued to wear it, achieving the rank of General in the Air Force Reserve. Jimmy lived and loved the same woman for many years. He made movies which, for the most part, had morals and ethics - you knew who the good guys were. Coming out of the theater after a Jimmy Stewart movie always made us walk a little taller, feel a little better.
Debbie Reynolds is cute. She is wholesome. She made some bad choices in men, one of them spending her into debt. Instead of filing for bankruptcy she went back to work and eventually paid everyone off. She worked hard while maintaining a family and raising the kids. Who can watch her as Molly Brown and not fall in love with her?
Anne Margaret had some rough times in her life. Many people would have become embittered or given up, but she kept on fighting. She is a hell of a woman, and a pleasure to look at.
I admire my parents. They had the strength of character to resisit drowning me before my tenth birthday. There were times when I didn't like them, but never a time when I didn't love them.
Mark Twain wrote books that I could enjoy. He also wrote about bigotry and injustice in a time when bigotry and injustice were common. If I were ever to write a book about someone, it would be him. He had his ups and downs and a bit of tragedy, but he saw life as it was and tried to right some wrongs.
I cannot understand why kids idolize rock singers who string out on drugs or rappers who tell them that women are slightly below the status of the household dog. cops deserve killing, not respect. Madonna has a wonderful voice, but she is a slut with no ethics or morals. Why do they want to imitate the younger group of actors who think that they can do whatever they want, treat people like crap, just because they are mentioned in the title credits?
If you want to admire someone, make sure that they have admirable qualites.