“We drove around in an old Pontiac … towing a one-wheel trailer. We weren’t itinerant: It wasn’t The Grapes of Wrath, but it wasn’t uptown either. It gives you a sort of conservative background, being raised in an era when everything was scarce.”
Those are the words of Clint Eastwood. I’ve always admired Mr. Eastwood, possibly because we are the same age and grew up under the same circumstances. Except my family drove around in an old Durant four door as my father searched for work during the depression. We didn’t realize that we were as poor as we were, because everyone around us was in the same situation. Yet I don’t regret growing up in the that era. I think, as Mr. Eastwood says, it did give those of us who lived through it a certain conservative attitude. I know that my mother, who was responsible for putting something on the table for us to eat, spent the rest of her life “saving” everything. When I was an adult with a good job, and took mom out to eat, if there was a roll left on the restaurant table, she would wrap it up in a napkin and put it in her purse. She saved every every piece of cloth-which she would piece together to make me “pajama tops” on her treadle operated sewing machine.
And, like Mr. Eastwood, I’ve had trouble with personal relationships and suffered multiple marriages and divorces. I’m sure he is a difficult person, especially for a woman, to live with. It’s not that we are cruel or unfeeling, but speaking for myself I know that often I live in a dream world of my imagination, and I’m sure that people (wives, children, friends, acquaintances) see me as aloof or standoffish. That’s not my intention, it’s just that my mind is continually creating “fiction” that I will write sometime, and in that state I’m oblivious to what is going on around me. I’m also capable of responding harshly, if I am interrupted when working on a novel or a story. I don’t mean to be “mean,” it just comes out that way. Fortunately, I have a very understanding wife, whom I love dearly.
It is said, by the actors whom Mr. Eastwood has directed, that he is the “easiest director ever to work with.” He doesn’t believe in doing 30 takes of a scene, when the rehearsal scene is good enough to capture what he has in mind for it. There are some directors who, probably from their own insecurity, will shoot the same scene over and over and over.
When I was in television I worked with some directors who were like that. And I can tell you that after I had read a commercial (or whatever it was that we were taping) and rehearsed it once, we could do 20 re-takes and they would never be better than take number 2. I also was fortunate enough to work with some directors who, like Mr. Eastwood, understood that concept. They were a pleasure to work with.
Also, like Mr. Eastwood, I have mellowed with age. Things or situations that would have set my temper off when I was younger, no longer bother me. I think that age changes one’s perspective and brings reality more into focus.
Clint Eastwood is one of my heroes. I think he would agree with me that, “Sometimes life sucks – but the alternative is unacceptable.”