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Tom Chaney: Shaken, not Stirred

Of Writers And Their Books: Shaken, not Stirred. Tom says James Bond was suave. He rushed about thwarting the evil communists and other malefactors, keeping his hair in place, never soiling his clothes, and always escaping behind the curtains in the boudoir with the beautiful girl. This column first appeared 9 January 2011.
The next earlier Tom Chaney column: Understanding the Enemy

By Tom Chaney

Shaken, not Stirred

I been thinking back to the golden days of the early 1960's. I had escaped from the clutches of the Baptist seminary in Louisville in part because I had read On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and in the second part because of a related sense that I had no business trying to tell anybody how to think and live.

Of course that led to my not being clear about what I thought or how I ought to live.

So I fled west

Unlike Kerouac, I wasn't about to stick out my thumb, but it was time I hit the road for Texas.

I fled, but not for the usual reasons that any of my ancestors had fled to the Lone Star state. They had gone to escape punishment for murder; to avoid testifying in another murder trial in which the accused might have been guilty, but the victim deserved at least some punishment; or to avoid marriage to an unwelcome suitor.

I had a teaching fellowship in speech at Baylor University in Waco -- fondly known as Jerusalem-on-the-Brazos.

Between the election of President John F. Kennedy in 1960 and the disaster of November 22, 1963, the world was a much brighter place. We had got shed of the old guys -- presidents born in the 19th century. Kennedy was one of us. Korea was behind, and Viet Nam was yet to be.

JFK set the style. We followed his taste in books and movies.

Word came that bed-time reading at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was often one of the James Bond thrillers of Ian Fleming. And so we sought them out in bookstores and at movie theatres.

I recall traipsing with friends to a nearby Waco movie house to see my first Bond film -- From Russia with Love. Sean Connery is still James Bond in my book. All the other later ones are just interlopers. And WOW! There was Lotta Lenya as the wicked Russian spy mistress. She had sung the Kurt Weil song "Mac the Knife" in Threepenny Opera. But here she wielded real knives hidden in the toes of her sturdy shoes -- almost doing in Mister Bond.

Now I won't claim that we all drank dry martinis -- "shaken, not stirred." This was, of course, Baylor whose men don't drink, dance, or chew or go with Baylor girls who do. But Baylor tea was bourbon served in disguise in tea cups at campus "functions," which were what we called forbidden dances. Imagine, if you will, a swain of the prairie sidling up to a belle of the Brazos and asking, "Will you function with me?"

We were much more likely to partake of a lethal concoction called yucca flats which reminds me of another libation -- old factory whistle -- three toots and you are done for the day.

But Bond was suave nonetheless. He rushed about thwarting the evil communists and other malefactors, keeping his hair in place, never soiling his clothes, and always escaping behind the curtains in the boudoir with the beautiful girl.

He must have been about 35 or so at the time in the early 1960's.

Ian Fleming died soon after we were introduced to his hero, but that didn't stop the flood of books by other authors and films with other inferior Bonds. When Connery became too long in the tooth, or too expensive, he was replaced with Roger Moore and then a series of Bonds.

I read a latter day Bond novel a few weeks ago. I don't know that I could pick it out from a shelf of others.

But it set me to dreaming. Let's see -- James Bond would be at least 85 these days. Dry martinis probably don't sit too well on the stomach of such an elderly roue’ after a lifetime diet of stone crabs. He probably can stand the soft scrambled eggs he used to have for breakfast. But surely he must need help getting in and out of his Bentley. Are the chases all by motorized wheel chairs?

And so we dream on.

The John Birchers we laughed off the stage have been replaced by another kind of tea party deserving of our scorn who echo the cry from a sixties Julius Monk Plaza Nine review -- "Why did the chicken cross the road? To get from the left to the RIGHT!"

Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at
Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
Email: Tom Chaney -

This story was posted on 2015-11-08 02:43:13
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