Touch the Past

tiki One of my favorite books when I was a youngster was Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl. I don’t remember exactly what age I was when I read it but I’m thinking I was in Junior High. In my mind’s eye I can picture a green public library binding with Kon-Tiki printed in blue across the back. The book is, of course, Heyerdahl’s retelling of his amazing trip across the Pacific on a primitive raft made of balsa logs. As a young anthropologist, he theorized that the Polynesian Islands were populated by peoples coming from South America, not from the west as was commonly believed. When others scorned his theory, he recruited a crew of five adventurers and built a raft in Peru using only ancient materials and techniques, funding it with loans, support of the Peruvian government and the contribution of some materials by the U.S. Navy. Leaving Peru on April 28, 1947, relying only on prevailing winds and currents, the raft, named the Kon-Tiki after a Polynesian sun god, arrived at the remote island of Raroia 101 days later. The harrowing adventure was perfect reading for a boy just beginning to contemplate his passage into adulthood.

Yesterday evening I had the heebie-jeebies. That’s what Muri and I call it when we just need to do something other than sit around the house. I’d noticed that the Swedish film, Kon-Tiki, was playing at the local cinema in Irvine and asked Muri if she’d like to see it. She wasn’t feeling well so I asked if she’d mind if I went. Alone? That’s not like you, she said. She’s right … I’ve only gone to the movies once by myself. We’re funny … Muri goes to the movies by herself fairly often if no one is available to go with her but wouldn’t be caught dead in a restaurant alone. I, on the other hand, went to restaurants alone regularly when I traveled on business but feel odd in a theater alone. Anyway, I went. The film was an old-fashioned adventure, filmed beautifullykon-tiki without flashbacks or computer generated special effects. It was a little short on character development but captured the immensity of the journey and the falling morale of the crew under the command of the somewhat fanatical Heyerdahl. There were seven people in the theater for the 7:20 performance … three gray haired couples and Older Eyes. But I really wasn’t alone. That Junior High kid was sitting there with me, saying, Oh, yeah. I remember this part. This is when the shark almost gets one of the crew. We both loved the film, by the way, and I got to reach back and Touch the Past … feeling a little like twelve years old again … and remembering a time when the world had real adventurers, not just stuntmen.

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4 Comments on “Touch the Past”

  1. Rick Gleason Says:

    Reaching back and touching the past with that invisible companion is something I do with regularity. Glad to see that I’m not alone in those ventures, either in sharing with you similar experiences or in the venture itself.

    All the best Bud!

  2. territerri Says:

    Sounds like a beautiful film. I’m glad you could enjoy it as much as you did.

    I can relate to reaching back and touching the past. I was in a used bookstore two weekends ago and stumbled across “From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” I fell in love with the book when I was in fourth grade and probably read it four or five times. I told myself to buy the used copy. It was in great shape. But I talked myself out of it and now I regret it.

  3. jenihill Says:

    I’ve been on the lookout (I wouldn’t call it a true search and destroy mission though) for a book I read several times when I was in grade school, junior high and senior high and (obviously) I loved it. It’s real oldie but goodie -published in 1948 and now, out of print. The name of it is Jonica’s Island by Gladys Malvern and I’d love to be able to find a copy of it to give to Maya, in the hopes she too would come to love this book as much as I did. Unfortunately, it’s priced way, way out of my range by the few people who do have a copy of it so I don’t think it will ever come my way. But it’s funny isn’t it how when you think of something from way back in your past how the memory really kicks into high gear then!

    • oldereyes Says:

      Wow. I looked at Jonica’s Island on Amazon and was amazed at what it cost. That’s too bad … a book is something special to be able to pass on.


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