The Autumn and Winter of 1969 and the Winter and Spring of 1970 constituted my Senior year At Lafayette High in Lafayette, LA. Lafayette was college town in South Louisiana that was a cultural oasis in the middle of an area that Moms Mabley used to describe as "not ready yet".
I was a tall, skinny, withdrawn kid who'd just become acquainted with the likes of Thoreau, Whitman, and that scraggly band of lunatics that comprised "The Beats". I had watched the movie "Easy Rider" and watched the protagonists "get it wrong". So, I was in a receptive mood when the pilot for "Then Came Bronson" aired with the protagonist, Jim Bronson put into similar circumstances as the two motorcyclists in "Easy Rider", but "getting it right".
I had little need for the cynicsm that "Easy Rider" had in spades. "Then Came Bronson" was different in that it celebrated the more noble qualities of human beings. It was also more intelligently written and not nearly as reliant on stereotypes for its characters.
Maybe it's the off-beat that attracts me. That could be why I fell in love with the retired lynotype operator (played by Will Geer)who lived in a small house by a desert road and advertised the oportunity to engage in intelligent conversation with billboards ("Talk", "Talk is Cheap", "Talk Here", "Free Beer"). The episode wound up dealing with the displacing of Native Americans, race prejudice, and the art of listening carefully. That last one may be a disappearing skill in our society.
Every episode hit the viewer on several different levels. You might be upset with what you saw, or inspired, or you might simply not agree. Whatever the case, your intelligence was never insulted, and I needed that.
The series only lasted one season. I think the producers, Herb Solow and Robert Justman (both of whom had been an integral part of the series "Star Trek") deserved better. I think that the American viewing public desrved better as well. Such programming needed encouragment at that time, and it wasn't getting it.
For me, it was like being suddenly denied the company of a close friend.
You can't help but wonder what other adventures Jim Bronson would have encountered as he travelled America on his Harley Sportster. He would have been living out of his bedroll, taking odd jobs to make the money he needed to keep him on the road, meeting new people and inviting us along. You also can't help but wonder what his return to "normal" society would've been like once his wanderlust had finally been satisfied.
It would be nice to think that he could be riding the roads still, aimed into the sunrise on a desert road, white stripes zipping past...but that America no longer exists. It's doubtful that that magic could be captured anew.
It would be nice to revisit the old magic, though. It will always remain fresh.