I was thinking about John Wayne the other morning as I walked along Wildcat Boulevard. Perhaps it was because of an article I had read in the December 2015/January 2016 AARP Magazine.

I was thinking about John Wayne the other morning as I walked along Wildcat Boulevard. Perhaps it was because of an article I had read in the December 2015/January 2016 AARP Magazine.
The article was called “The Duke’s Gruff Love.” It mostly was comprised of letters from his children telling their experiences growing up with a famous father.
A Wayne son told how he had to carry his father’s autograph cards when he was with his dad. If someone asked for a card, Big John stuck out his hand and expected the kid to put a card in it.
One of the stories told how one of John’s daughters hit him in the eye with a golf club. He was teaching her how to play golf at the time. Luckily, it was when he was filming “Rooster Cogburn.” She hit him in the left eye. All the makeup crew had to do was make the eye patch a little larger.
Wayne was born and raised in Winterset, Iowa, a small town southwest of Des Moines. In time, his parents moved to California. He began taking small movie parts after he lost his football scholarship because of a bodysurfing accident.
Wayne was in 142 movies, of which 83 were Westerns. John Ford’s “Stagecoach” was his first “big” movie and launched his career.
He starred in many movies and often had the same supporting actors and actresses. Two of his older sons were in nearly every movie.
Maureen O’Hara, Ben Johnson, Hank Norton, who played a character called “Curly,” and Chill Wills were in many of his movies. In some of his last movies, Wayne went by the name Duke, which was his nickname.
Wayne was a super patriot in many of his movies and life. He recorded several patriotic songs, which he narrated more than sang. He has an album, “America — Why I Love Her.”
He didn’t serve in the military during World War II, although he made many films with a WWII backdrop.
After high school, he applied for the U.S. Naval Academy, but was not accepted. He went on to play college football at the University of Southern California.
Many speculate that the injury he suffered that made him quit college football was what kept him out of the service. By 1942, he was 32 years old, had four children and had added a severe back injury from doing movie stunts. His draft status was 4-F for much of the war.
Still, how can anyone not like a man’s man like Wayne? Of all his lines, I still like best “not hardly” from “Big Jake.” How about the way he pronounced “pilgrim” before he started the big mud fight in “McClintock”?
Take a walk, may your heroes be patriotic, use those signal lights, watch for pedestrians, and see what you notice or think about while passing along Wildcat Boulevard.

Russell Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.