365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The West Less Traveled Birthday Party

(Photo from tasteofhome.com)

John Wayne’s last movie, “The Shootist,” was scheduled for filming in El Paso, Texas but “The Duke,” changed the script to move production near Carson City, Nevada just east of Lake Tahoe. 

All the exterior vistas of vast, golden prairie with mountain ranges in the distance were filmed in the Carson City area. However, almost every street and interior shot was created on the Warner Brothers’ backlot and sound stages. 

One exception to the indoor sets for “The Shootist,” was the boarding house where John Wayne’s character, J.B. Books, tries and fails to wind down his days in peaceful reclusion. This house is the setting for “The West Less Traveled Birthday Party.” The 1914 Krebs-Peterson House on 500 Mountain Street is now a private home in the Instagram-ready, historic district of Carson City’s Blue Line Trail. 


You sense the joy the minute you glide across the lush, Victorian era carpets in the boarding house front parlor. HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! (Note: The comments attributed to these famous joy-givers come from words they have written or said.) 


May 22—M. SCOTT PECK, author of the hugely successful, self-help book, “The Road Less Traveled,” was America’s favorite psychiatrist for many years. The book and the core of his practice was to describe the attributes each human need in order to become a fulfilled being.  

Lie down on a couch and let Dr. Peck share a bushel of insights: 

“We do not have to love. We choose to love.” 

“The truth is our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” 

“Once we know that life is difficult—once we truly understand and accept it—then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” 

“Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s personal growth.” 

“Emotional sickness is avoiding reality at any cost. Emotional health is facing reality at any cost.” 

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” 

“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the making of action in spite of the fear.” 

“The journey of life is not paved, it is not brightly lit and it has no road signs. It is a rocky path through the wilderness.” 

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.” 

“Groups that exclude others…are not communities; they are cliques—actually bastions against community.” 

“Integrity is never painless.” 

“Life is a series of problems. Do you want to moan about them or solve them?” 

“By far the most important form of attention we can give our loved ones is listening…True listening is love in action.” 

“The life of wisdom must be a life of contemplation combined with action.” 

May 23—ROSEMARY CLOONEY, who hailed from Maysville, Kentucky, was a singer/actress who had the mega-hit, “Come On-A My House,” in the early 1950s. Today, she is most known as Bing Crosby’s co-star in the holiday classic film, “White Christmas,” and as the sister of actor George Clooney’s dad, Nick. She called herself “a sweet singer with a big band sensibility.” 

May 24—BOB DYLAN (born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota—his Hebrew name was Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham) is a singer/songwriter, poet and visual artist. He has been a pop culture icon for six decades. Dylan’s biggest hits such as “BlowinIn The Wind,” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” became anthems for protests. He has received ten Grammy awards, a Golden Globe award, an Oscar and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2016, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition. 

May 25—BILL “BOJANGLES” ROBINSON, a tap dancer, actor and singer was the best-known and most highly paid Black-American entertainer in the first half of the 20th Century. He began his career in minstrel shows and moved to vaudeville, Broadway theatre, the recording industry, Hollywood films, radio and television. In 1989, Congress designated Mr. Robinson’s birthday of May 25th as National Tap Dance Day. 

May 26—JOHN WAYNE (born Marion Morrison and nicknamed “The Duke”) was an actor and filmmaker known for playing in westerns. He starred in 142 motion pictures. John Wayne personified our nation’s frontier heritage. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor of the USA. 

May 27—“WILD BILL” HICKOK (born James Butler Hickok) was a folk hero of the American Old West, known for his legendary life on the frontier as a soldier, scout, lawman, gambler, showman, actor and involvement in many gunfights. He remains a western hero as a vigilante gunman, though his biographer believes Hickok may have only killed six or seven men while gunfighting. 

May 28—“PATCH” ADAMS (born Hunter Doherty Adams) is a physician, clown, social activist, comedian and author. He founded the Gesundheit! Institute in 1971. Each year, he organizes volunteers from around the world to travel to various countries where they dress as clowns to bring smiles, laughter and joy to orphans, hospital patients and others. 



“No matter how great a man is, the size of his funeral usually depends on the weather.”—Rosemary Clooney 

“All I can be is me, whoever that is.”—Bob Dylan 

“What success I achieved in the theater is due to the fact that I have always worked just as hard when there were ten people in the house as when there were thousands.”—Bill “Bojangles” Robinson 

“Life is tough, pilgrim; it’s even tougher if you’re stupid.”—John Wayne 

“I never, in all my life, took any mean advantage of an enemy.”—“Wild Bill” Hickok 

“At the age of 18, I made up my mind to never have another bad day in my life. I dove into an endless sea of gratitude from which I’ve never emerged.”—“Patch” Adams 

“I’ll keep working as long as I live because singing has taken on the feeling of joy that I had when I started, when my only responsibility was to sing well.”—Rosemary Clooney 

“No one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky.”—Bob Dylan 

“Everything is copacetic.”—Bill “Bojangles” Robinson 

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”—John Wayne 

“Harness mules and oxen, but give a horse a chance to run.”—“Wild Bill” Hickok 

“Humor is the antidote to all ills.”—“Patch” Adams 

So you see, you can’t do everything alone.”—Rosemary Clooney 

“Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.”—Bob Dylan 

“I’m living in a great big way.”—Bill “Bojangles” Robinson 

“The reason there are so many stupid people is because it’s illegal to kill them.”—John Wayne 

“My restless, roaming spirit would not let me remain at home very long.”—“Wild Bill” Hickok 

“See what no one else sees. See what everyone chooses not to see—out of fear, conformity or laziness. See the whole world anew every day.”—“Patch” Adams 

“I’m the only instrument that’s got the words, so I’ve got to get that across.”—Rosemary Clooney 

“An artist has got to be careful never really to arrive at a place where he thinks he’s—someplace. You have to realize you’re constantly in the state of becoming.”—Bob Dylan 

“It’s all the way you look at it, you know.”—Bill “Bojangles” Robinson 

“TRUE courage is when you are scared to death and STILL saddle up and ride in!”—John Wayne 

“Will you let me go to Hell the way I want to?”—“Wild Bill” Hickok 

“The reason adults should look as though they are having fun is to give kids a reason to want to grow up.”—“Patch” Adams 

“I remember every week, Mitch Miller saying this rock-and-roll stuff will never last.”—Rosemary Clooney 

“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s been some kind of pain.”—Bob Dylan 

“Very few of the so-called liberals are open-minded…They shoot you down and won’t let you speak if you disagree with them.”—John Wayne 

“The most radical act anyone can commit is to be happy.”—“Patch” Adams 

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night and in between he does what he wants to do.”—Bob Dylan 



APPETIZER—Rosemary Clooney “’A,’ You’re Adorable” Puff Pastry Pops (purewow.com) 

SALAD/SOUP—“Patch” Adams Smiley Salad (allrecipes.com) 

ENTRÉE—“Wild Bill” Hickok Bison Kabobs (cooking-buffalo.com) 

SIDE DISH—John Wayne True Grilled Grits (thedailymeal.com) 

BREAD—Bill “Bojangles” Robinson Copacetic Cornbread (foodnetwork.com) 

BEVERAGE—The Bob Dylan Cocktail with Heaven’s Door Bourbon (greenbriarrestaurant.com) 

DESSERT—M. Scott Peck Rocky Road Less Traveled Freezer Pie (see below) 


ONE TO GROW ON—Bob Dylan did not attend the Stockholm ceremony to receive his Nobel Prize in Literature; instead he mailed a letter of genuine gratitude. It’s not a long, formal letter, but it is very much worth googling and reading. Dylan mentions that William Shakespeare was thinking of entertaining an audience when he created his comedies and tragedies; the bard was not thinking of writing literature. Dylan says his dream was for his songs was that they be performed in coffeehouses and music halls. He expresses surprise and delight upon being recognized with the grandest prize in the art of literature. 

The main entertainment for “The West Less Traveled Birthday Party” came from Rosemary Clooney singing a sweet medley of Bob Dylan’s poetic songwriting and all joining her for a joyful sing-a-long of “Blowin’ In The Wind.” “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind…the answer is blowin’ in the wind.” 

Then, John Wayne offered a patriotic toast, “Sure, I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave? Sure, I love my country with all her faults. I’m not ashamed of that, never have been, never will be.” And, “Wild Bill” Hickok replied to all the celebrants, “Pardners, we will meet again in the Happy Hunting Ground to part no more.” 



                                                 (source: tasteofhome.com) 


1-1/2 cups half-and-half cream 

1 package (3.9 ounces) instant chocolate pudding mix 

1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed 

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips 

1/3 cup miniature marshmallows 

1/3 cup chopped pecans 

1 graham cracker crust (9 inches) 

Miniature marshmallows, chopped pecans and chocolate sauce (optional top) 


In a large bowl, whisk cream and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Stir in chocolate chips, marshmallows and pecans. Transfer to pie crust. Freeze until firm, about 6 hours. Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving. 

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Ben South