SATURDAY MORNING SUPERSTAR
Athlete turned actor, Buster Crabbe (Clarence Linden Crabbe II), looking back over his career, could easily have said “been there, done that.” After winning Olympic gold in 1932 for freestyle swimming, Crabbe dived into the movies, eventually starring in over a hundred movies, first taking a turn as the jungle hero in Tarzan the Fearless in the 1933 serial and a variety of jungle men in movies such as King of the Jungle that same year, Jungle Man in 1941, and the 1952 serial King of the Congo.
Leaving the jungle for the far reaches of space, he played both Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. His three Flash Gordon serials were Saturday morning staples in the 30s and 40s. The serials were also compiled into full-length movies. They appeared extensively on American television in the 1950s and 60s, and eventually were edited for release on home video. Later on television, Crabbe also found his way into the French Foreign Legion. As his acting career wound down, he became a spokesman for his own line of swimming pools. He died on April 23, 1983.
Sick in de stomach, Part 2: What to give a man who hates everything
“So old Albert’s a sick’un, is he?” said Basil, downing his first rum of the day. Basil had always thought himself to be a descendent of the pirate, Sir Basil Ringrose, and as each day sailed toward sunset and the rum clouded his horizon, he metamorphosed into the pirate himself.
“That’s too bad,” said Mutton, Basil’s young protégé, whose mind was also clouded, even without the benefit of rum. “Being sick doesn’t feel very good.”
“Albert’s only sick for one reason,” Peaches declared. “Tomorrow’s his birthday.”
“Why would his birthday make him sick?” asked Christian, Peaches’ ward and the youngest and wisest of the three men who sat with her at one of the six tables on the open pavilion that was Albert’s Booby Bay Cafe.
“I don’t know,” said Peaches. “I guess it’s because he’s old and foolish, and birthday’s make him feel older and more foolish. And this one’s his seventieth so he’s really old and really foolish.”
“Old Albert ain’t so foolish,” said Basil, coming to his rescue, which was the proper thing to do since he was drinking Albert’s rum.
“He’ll get over it,” said Peaches. “By Monday, he’ll be himself – for better or worse.”
“Seventy years,” mused Basil, as he lumbered over to the bar and refreshed his rum. “Here’s to old Albert bein’ seventy.” He took a drink. “By rights, we ought to be givin’ the little frog a birthday present of some sorts.”
“What do you give the man who hates everything?” asked Christian.
“A watch,” suggested Mutton. The others had long since given up trying to follow Mutton’s thinking.
“Where would we get a watch?” complained Christian. “We’d have to go to Guadeloupe to get a watch. We don’t have time.”
“If we had a watch, we’d have plenty a’ time,” chortled Basil.
“Besides,” said Christian, not nearly as amused at Basil’s joke as Basil, “he probably would hate a watch.”
Basil chuckled on for a few more minutes, then said: “I know somethin’ Albert don’t hate.” He grinned, smug in his ownership of a piece of knowledge the others lacked.
“What would that be?” asked Peaches, the only one willing to give Basil his satisfaction.
“Turtle soup,” Basil pronounced. “Old Albert likes turtle soup a whole lot.”
“You’re right,” said Christian. “I’ve heard him say how much he loves turtle soup.”
“He loves turtle soup made in Paris,” said Peaches.
“Is turtles of the French persuasion somehow different than ordinary turtles?” Basil scoffed. “A seafarin’ man knows a turtle is a turtle.”
“Unless it’s a terrapin,” said Christian with a smirk.
“Isn’t that a canvas thing?” asked Mutton, looking bewildered.
“Ain’t no such thing as a canvas turtle, boy,” said Basil. “They’d be awful chewy.”
“Turtle soup would be nice,” Peaches mused.
“And medicinal,” added Christian.
“But we don’t know how to make turtle soup,” said Peaches.
“What’s to know?” said Basil. “You gets a turtle and puts him in a soup pot and cooks him up.”
“We can figure it out,” said Christian. “We cook the turtle in water. That makes broth. And vegetables. And bay leaves. I know bay leaves are important in soup. And Albert talks about sherry.”
“Sherry be a sissy drink,” said Basil.
“It goes in the soup, Basil. Albert says it complements the turtle.”
“It’s old Albert what oughtta compliment the turtle,” said Basil.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard Albert compliment turtles or anything else,” said Peaches, not wanting the boys to be disappointed.
“What I meant was . . .” said Christian. “Oh, never mind. This afternoon we’ll go out and find all the ingredients.” Mutton gave him a lost look. “The things we just talked about that go into the soup. Then tomorrow we’ll start cooking, and tomorrow night, turtle soup for Albert’s birthday dinner.”
“Lead on, Cap’n,” said Basil, and the three of them marched off, leaving Peaches with profound doubts about the soup project but unwilling to interfere with their gift to the ailing Gallic gargoyle.
Sick in de Stomach is one of the 15 stories from Calypso, Stories of the Caribbean, available as an ebook or in a print edition with real pages and everything.