Childhood Heroes

I have a soft spot for the fictional heroes of my childhood. The first has to be Robin Hood. I loved the old TV show with Richard Greene. I can still sing the theme song

Robin Hood, Robin Hood riding through the glen.
Robin Hood Robin Hood with his band of men.
Feared by the bad, loved by the good.
Robin Hood. Robin Hood, Robin Hood.

Or at least that’s my memory of the lyrics. The characters in the show had such great names, too—Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Will Scarlet, Little John, Friar Tuck, and Maid Marian. Such descriptive, enticing names. It made me fall in love with noble characters, history, right vs power, helping people, and outsmarting the bad guy. I was sad when I got older and found out Robin Hood probably never lived. I thought Sherlock Holmes was a real character, too, for a long time. When a character is that dimensional, they take on a life force and it’s hard to believe they never actually existed outside of the imagination.

zorroThe second in my list of heroes is Zorro. He’s the California version of Robin Hood. I was born and lived in California until I was 12. The state has a rich history with the building of the missions, the fight for independence from Spain, the gold rush (yes, I know there was a lot horror involved in the treatment of the Native Americans, etc., but I was a kid. I only saw the romantic side of history.)

California is also an incredibly beautiful state—the mountains, the desert, the redwoods, and above all, the Pacific Ocean. Much as I love Colorado, I still feel the occasional twinge for the sight of the ocean, the smell of the salt air, and the sound of the surf. Zorro is mixed up in my emotions as a nostalgic memory of simpler times.

Zorro was much like Robin Hood in that he helped the down-trodden, and outwitted the corrupt government. I was also intrigued by his mute servant and the way he communicated. What an interesting character. Plus who can resist fantastic sword play? I even had a Zorro hacienda with action figures so I could imagine my own daring rescues and sword fights.

Next on the list I have to turn to the Sunday papers and the continuing adventures of Prince Valiant. Prince Valiant and AletaAnd not only Prince Valiant, but Aleta was a great favorite, too. It was so nice to have a female character that was up to handling her own perilous adventures.  She was kind of like the Mrs. Peel of the Middle Ages, only she had kids.  A woman who could have it all. I wanted to be her—have true love, adventure, and kids. Plus she was smart. She was Prince Valiant’s equal in all ways.

I liked everything about Prince Valiant except for the haircut. Seriously, Hal Foster, you couldn’t have come up with a better look? I realize he probably wanted to distinguish Valiant’s do from the typical Viking flowing locks, but the Chatty Kathy look was not my fav.

ThorLast on my list is Thor. Who could resist a hunky guy in leather and fur? I know the Marvel version has the red cape and spandex, but I was actually more attracted to the Norse mythology version of Thor than the comic book, though the comic book was fun. I generally liked Norse mythology better than Greek mythology, which was more about the foibles of human nature rather than noble deeds. I won’t bother with Roman mythology which was nothing more than a knockoff.

A large portion of Greek mythology has to do with who was bedding whom. In some ways they were the Harlequin Romances of the time. I preferred adventure. Plus, I was intrigued by Thor’s hammer. It was such a different kind of weapon. I have to say one of my favorite moments in recent movies was when The Hulk couldn’t pick up Thor’s hammer in the second Avenger movie.

These fictional heroes brought love, adventure, nobility, and fun into my childhood. They gave me a love of history, a belief in helping the helpless, and the idea that you shouldn’t give up just because something is hard to do. Perseverance can win the day. I hold them responsible for my becoming a writer.

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