Dave Simpson: 'Silver Wings,' Not 'Barbie,' Got Raves

Columnist Dave Simpson writes, "Sorry I missed 'Barbie' with my friends Bill and Nancy Sniffin, but the highlight of the summer had nothing to do with sitting in a movie theater. It was sitting around a campfire while a retired eye doctor/musician from Nebraska sang 'Silver Wings.'”

Dave Simpson

September 25, 20234 min read

Dave simpson campfire 9 25 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

I hated to be a party pooper, especially when the event was an evening out with columnist colleague and pal Bill Sniffin and his wife Nancy, watching the “must see” new movie “Barbie.”

In August, I'm either in the mountains, or heading to the mountains, and there was no way I could invest a summer evening cooped up in a theater. Instead, I spent the evening baking cookies to take to the social event of the year in the Upper Snowy Range, our annual Labor Day Picnic.

Someone at Cowboy State Daily thought it would be funny to have oldsters like Bill, who is 77, and I, age 72, and Rod Miller, also 72, do reviews of a movie aimed at daughters and granddaughters, not granddads. They could take a picture of us buying our buckets of popcorn.

Bill and Nancy, real troopers, came to Cheyenne and went to the movie. According to Bill's review, Rod begged off in no uncertain terms. And I was, well, baking cookies.

The last movie I attended, sitting in a theater, was “Forrest Gump,” in 1994.

Ever since, it's been easy to avoid theaters, the sound that's way too loud, and the high price of Milk Duds and popcorn. And there was the added benefit of knowing I wasn't adding one penny to the pockets of crazy liberals like Alec Baldwin and Jim Carrey.

Take that, Hollywood. It's the best I got.

Bill's review earned “Barbie” two thumbs down, only giving it credit for a pretty good beginning and a pretty good ending. Sounds like pretty thin gruel to me. My cookies came out great.

Mere days before the planned “Barbie” outing, I experienced the best evening of the summer, sitting around a campfire at 9,800 feet, 22 miles south of Elk Mountain, with two old pals from my editor days back in North Platte, Neb.

One was a retired contractor I met through his late wife, who was an excellent, funny columnist who wrote for us for years. Folks compared her to Erma Bombeck. The other guy was a retired eye doctor, who is a musician, and he brought his guitar.

So one evening the eye doctor/musician – who composes songs, plays in a band, and performs solo at nursing homes, free of charge – got out his guitar, sat on a bench next to the fire, and out of the blue started singing “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”

What thinking person doesn't love “Ghost Riders?”

When he finished, the retired contractor and the retired newsman clapped from our chairs on the porch. It was awesome.

So then I did what any thinking country music fan would do and asked the eye doctor/musician if he could play “Silver Wings,” which always brings a tear to my eye.

And suddenly, there I was, sitting on my porch, while the strains of my favorite song ever wafted through the summer woods - “taking you away, leaving me lonely, silver wings, slowly fading out of sight.” What person who ever had someone they love fly away can't relate to those lyrics? And right there at my little cabin in the woods.

So then we asked if he could sing “Ring of Fire,” and he found his harmonica and the holder that went around his neck, and he played those wonderful trumpet parts of the song on the harmonica. Accompanying himself on the guitar and harmonica, it was as if Bob Dylan had joined us around the campfire.

So then we asked him to play the classic “City of New Orleans,” but we couldn't remember all the words, so we had some fun straining our brain pans trying to recall all the verses. It was a truly awesome evening.

He went on to entertain us as I got the charcoal going for some thick rib eyes I brought along and some of the smooth Pendleton whiskey they brought.

Sorry I missed “Barbie” with my friends Bill and Nancy, but the highlight of the summer had nothing to do with sitting in a movie theater. It was sitting around a campfire with a retired eye doctor from Nebraska, while he sang “Silver Wings.”

I still get chills.

Next time, I'm inviting the neighbors.

Dave Simpson can be reached at: DaveSimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson

Political, Wyoming Life Columnist

Dave has written a weekly column about a wide variety of topics for 39 years, winning top columnist awards in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.