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Reagan's famous tribute to John Wayne - - a lot of these words fit the Gipper too
http://www.jwplace.com/Readers Digest ^ | October 1979 | Ronald Reagan

Posted on 06/06/2004 6:59:04 PM PDT by churchillbuff

Unforgettable John Wayne

biography by Ronald Reagan

courtesy of Readers Digest - October 1979

We called him DUKE, and he was every bit the giant off screen he was on. Everything about him-his stature, his style, his convictions-conveyed enduring strength, and no one who observed his struggle in those final days could doubt that strength was real. Yet there was more. To my wife, Nancy, "Duke Wayne was the most gentle, tender person I ever knew."

In 1960, as president of the Screen Actors' Guild, I was deeply embroiled in a bitter labor dispute between the Guild and the motion picture industry. When we called a strike, the film industry unleashed a series of stinging personal attacks on me - criticism my wife found difficult to take.

At 7:30 one morning the phone rang and Nancy heard Duke's booming voice: "I've been readin' what these damn columnists are saying about Ron. He can take care of himself, but I've been worrying about how all this is affecting you." Virtually every morning until the strike was settled several weeks later, he phoned her. When a mass meeting was called to discuss settlement terms, he left a dinner party so that he could escort Nancy and sit at her side. It was, she said, like being next to a force bigger than life.

Countless others were also touched by his strength. Although it would take the critics 40 years to recognize what John Wayne was, the movie going public knew all along. In this country and around the world, Duke was the most popular box-office star of all time. For an incredible 25 years he was rated at or around the top in box-office appeal. His films grossed $700 million-a record no performer in Hollywood has come close to matching. Yet John Wayne was more than an actor; he was a force around which films were made. As Elizabeth Taylor Warner stated last May when testifying in favor of the special gold medal Congress struck for him: "He gave the whole world the image of what an American should be."

Stagecoach to Stardom

He was born Marion Michael Morrison in Winterset, Iowa. When Marion was six, the family moved to California. There he picked up the nickname Duke - after his Airedale. He rose at 4 a.m. to deliver newspapers, and after school and football practice he made deliveries for local stores. He was an A student, president of the Latin Society, head of his senior class and an all-state guard on a championship football team.

Duke had hoped to attend the U.S. Naval Academy and was named as an alternate selection to Annapolis, but the first choice took the appointment. Instead, he accepted a full scholarship to play football at the University of Southern California. There coach Howard Jones, who often found summer jobs in the movie industry for his players, got Duke work in the summer of 1926 as an assistant prop man on the set of a movie directed by John Ford.

One day, Ford, a notorious taskmaster with a rough-and-ready sense of humor, spotted the tall USC guard on his set and asked Duke to bend over and demonstrate his ball stance. With a deft kick, knocked Duke's arms from his body and the young athlete on his face. Picking himself Duke said in that voice which then commanded attention, "Let's try that once again." This time Duke sent Ford flying. Ford erupted in laughter, and the two began a personal and professional friendship which would last a lifetime.

From his job in props, Duke worked his way into roles on the screen. During the Depression he played in grade-B westerns until John Ford finally convinced United Artists to give him the role of the Ringo Kid in his classic film Stagecoach. John Wayne was on the road to stardom. He quickly established his versatility in a variety of major roles: a young seaman in Eugene O'Neill's - The Long Voyage Home, a tragic captain in Reap the Wild Wind, a rodeo rider in the comedy - A Lady Takes a Chance.

When war broke out, John Wayne tried to enlist but was rejected because of an old football injury to his shoulder, his age (34), and his status as a married father of four. He flew to Washington to plead that he be allowed to join the Navy but was turned down. So he poured himself into the war effort by making inspirational war films - among them The Fighting Seabees, Back to Bataan and They Were Expendable. To those back home and others around the world he became a symbol of the determined American fighting man.

Duke could not be kept from the front lines. In 1944 he spent three months touring forward positions in the Pacific theater. Appropriately, it was a wartime film, Sands of Iwo Jima which turned him into a superstar. Years after the war, when Emperor Hirohito of Japan visited the United States, he sought out John Wayne, paying tribute to the one who represented our nation's success in combat. As one of the true innovators of the film industry, Duke tossed aside the model of the white-suited cowboy/good guy, creating instead a tougher, deeper-dimensioned western hero. He discovered Monument Valley, the film setting in the Arizona - Utah desert where a host of movie classics were filmed. He perfected the choreographic techniques and stuntman tricks which brought realism to screen fighting. At the same time he decried pornography, and blood, and gore in films. "That's not sex and violence," he would say. "It's filth and bad taste."

"I Sure As Hell Did!"

In the 1940s, Duke was one of the few stars with the courage to expose the determined bid by a band of communists to take control of the film industry. Through a series of violent strikes and systematic blacklisting, these people were at times dangerously close to reaching their goal. With theatrical employee's union leader Brewer, playwright Morrie and others, he formed the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals to challenge this insidious campaign. Subsequent Congressional investigations in I947 clearly proved both the communist plot and the importance of what Duke and his friends did.

In that period, during my first term as president of the Actors' Guild, I was confronted with an attempt by many of these same leftists to assume leadership of the union. At a mass meeting I watched rather helplessly as they filibustered, waiting for our majority to leave so they could gain control. Somewhere in the crowd I heard a call for adjournment, and I seized on this as a means to end the attempted takeover. But the other side demanded I identify the one who moved for adjournment.

I looked over the audience, realizing that there were few willing to be publicly identified as opponents of the far left. Then I saw Duke and said, "Why I believe John Wayne made the motion." I heard his strong voice reply, "I sure as hell did!" The meeting and the radicals' campaign was over.

Later, when such personalities as actor Larry Parks came forward to admit their Communist Party backgrounds, there were those who wanted to see them punished. Not Duke. "It takes courage to admit you're wrong," he said, and he publicly battled attempts to ostracize those who had come clean.

Duke also had the last word over those who warned that his battle against communism in Hollywood would ruin his career. Many times he would proudly boast, "I was 32nd in the box-office polls when I accepted the presidency of the Alliance. When I left office eight years later, somehow the folks who buy tickets had made me number one.

Duke went to Vietnam in the early days of the war. He scorned VIP treatment, insisting that he visit the troops in the field. Once he even had his helicopter land in the midst of a battle. When he returned, he vowed to make a film about the heroism of Special Forces soldiers.

The public jammed theaters to see the resulting film, The Green Berets. The critics, however, delivered some of the harshest reviews ever given a motion picture. The New Yorker bitterly condemned the man who made the film. The New York Times called it "unspeakable ... rotten ... stupid." Yet John Wayne was undaunted. "That little clique back there in the East has taken great personal satisfaction reviewing my politics instead of my pictures," he often said. "But one day those doctrinaire liberals will wake up to find the pendulum has swung the other way.

Foul-Weather Friend

I never once saw Duke display hatred toward those who scorned him. Oh, he could use some pretty salty language, but he would not tolerate pettiness and hate. He was human all right: he drank enough whiskey to float a PT boat, though he never drank on the job. His work habits were legendary in Hollywood - he was virtually always the first to arrive on the set and the last to leave.

His torturous schedule plus the great personal pleasure he derived from hunting and deep-sea fishing or drinking and card-playing with his friends may have cost him a couple of marriages; but you had only to see his seven children and 21 grandchildren to realize that Duke found time to be a good father. He often said, "I have tried to live my life so that my family would love me and my friends respect me. The others can do whatever the hell they please."

To him, a handshake was a binding contract. When he was in the hospital for the last time and sold his yacht, The Wild Goose, for an amount far below its market value, he learned the engines needed minor repairs. He ordered those engines overhauled at a cost to him of $40,000 because he had told the new owner the boat was in good shape.

Duke's generosity and loyalty stood out in a city rarely known for either. When a friend needed work, that person went on his payroll. When a friend needed help, Duke's wallet was open. He also was loyal to his fans. One writer tells of the night he and Duke were in Dallas for the premiere of Chisum. Returning late to his hotel, Duke found a message from a woman who said her little girl lay critically ill in a local hospital. The woman wrote, "It would mean so much to her if you could pay her just a brief visit." At 3 o'clock in the morning he took off for the hospital where he visited the astonished child and every other patient on the hospital floor who happened to be awake.

I saw his loyalty in action many times. I remember that when Duke and Jimmy Stewart were on their way to my second inauguration as governor of California they encountered a crowd of demonstrators under the banner of the Vietcong flag. Jimmy had just lost a son in Vietnam. Duke excused himself for a moment and walked into the crowd. In a moment there was no Vietcong flag.

Final Curtain

Like any good John Wayne film, Duke's career had a gratifying ending. In the 1970s a new era of critics began to recognize the unique quality of his acting. The turning point had been the film True Grit. When the Academy gave him an Oscar for best actor of 1969, many said it was based on the accomplishments of his entire career. Others said it was Hollywood's way of admitting that it had been wrong to deny him Academy Awards for a host of previous films. There is truth, I think, to both these views.

Yet who can forget the climax of the film? The grizzled old marshal confronts the four outlaws and calls out: "I mean to kill you or see you hanged at Judge Parker's convenience. Which will it be?" "Bold talk for a one-eyed fat man," their leader sneers. Then Duke cries, "Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!" and, reins in his teeth, charges at them firing with both guns. Four villains did not live to menace another day.

"Foolishness?" wrote Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mike Royko, describing the thrill this scene gave him. "Maybe. But I hope we never become so programmed that nobody has the damn-the-risk spirit."

Fifteen years ago when Duke lost a lung in his first bout with cancer, studio press agents tried to conceal the nature of his illness. When Duke discovered this, he went before the public and showed us that a man can fight this dread disease. He went on to raise millions of dollars for private cancer research. Typically, he snorted: "We've got too much at stake to give government a monopoly in the fight against cancer."

Earlier this year, when doctors told Duke there was no hope, he urged them to use his body for experimental medical research, to further the search for a cure. He refused painkillers so he could be alert as he spent his last days with his children. When John Wayne died on June 11, a Tokyo newspaper ran the headline, "Mr. America passes on."

"There's right and there's wrong," Duke said in The Alamo. "You gotta do one or the other. You do the one and you're living. You do the other and you may be walking around but in reality you're dead."

Duke Wayne symbolized just this, the force of the American will to do what is right in the world. He could have left no greater legacy.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: gipper; ronaldreagan; theduke
"There's right and there's wrong," Duke said in The Alamo. "You gotta do one or the other. You do the one and you're living. You do the other and you may be walking around but in reality you're dead."

Duke Wayne symbolized just this, the force of the American will to do what is right in the world. He could have left no greater legacy.

SAME'S TRUE WITH REAGAN

1 posted on 06/06/2004 6:59:05 PM PDT by churchillbuff
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To: churchillbuff

Great post about two great Americans!


2 posted on 06/06/2004 7:01:40 PM PDT by wagglebee
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To: churchillbuff

during my first term as president of the Actors' Guild, I was confronted with an attempt by many of these same leftists to assume leadership of the union. At a mass meeting I watched rather helplessly as they filibustered, waiting for our majority to leave so they could gain control. Somewhere in the crowd I heard a call for adjournment, and I seized on this as a means to end the attempted takeover. But the other side demanded I identify the one who moved for adjournment.

I looked over the audience, realizing that there were few willing to be publicly identified as opponents of the far left. Then I saw Duke and said, "Why I believe John Wayne made the motion." I heard his strong voice reply, "I sure as hell did!" The meeting and the radicals' campaign was over.


3 posted on 06/06/2004 7:01:53 PM PDT by churchillbuff
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To: All

I hate to tell you but John Wayne was a cross dresser


4 posted on 06/06/2004 7:05:40 PM PDT by al baby (Hope I don't get into trouble for this)
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To: al baby

Got any links to proof? Or are you just tossing that turd in the punchbowl because you think it's funny, and you're trying to be funny with it?


5 posted on 06/06/2004 7:08:11 PM PDT by Keith in Iowa (Reagan defeated communism while Kerry was kissing its arse.)
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To: al baby

Even wearing a dress, John Wayne could still kick your butt!


6 posted on 06/06/2004 7:08:33 PM PDT by SamAdams76 ("Abortion is advocated only by persons who have themselves been born" - Ronald Reagan.)
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To: churchillbuff

One of my favorite Reagan lines was this:
"Republicans think that ever day is the Fourth of July, and
Democrats think that every day is the 15th of April."


7 posted on 06/06/2004 7:14:43 PM PDT by Mark (Treason doth never prosper, for if it prosper, NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON.)
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To: churchillbuff

Great article. Thanks for posting it.


8 posted on 06/06/2004 7:14:48 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: wagglebee

I think its time to get the goverment to clone John Wayne and Ronnie Reagan (and maybe Elvis)


9 posted on 06/06/2004 7:15:03 PM PDT by captaindude2 (Soon to be banned again!)
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To: churchillbuff; All

DUKEEEE

Alright Ronnie I remember how sick he was see him on front page of LA Times after what his been last bout of cancer


10 posted on 06/06/2004 7:20:35 PM PDT by SevenofNine ("Not everybody , in it, for truth, justice, and the American way,"=Det Lennie Briscoe)
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To: al baby; Keith in Iowa; SamAdams76
I hate to tell you but John Wayne was a cross dresser

4 posted on 06/06/2004 9:05:40 PM CDT by al baby(Hope I don't get into trouble for this)

Interesting tagline considering your post

11 posted on 06/06/2004 7:24:26 PM PDT by Kaslin
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To: churchillbuff

Ping for Later


12 posted on 06/06/2004 7:31:58 PM PDT by SolitaryMan
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To: captaindude2

Forget Elvis. Jimmy Stewart was the war hero that John Wayne and Ronald Reagan only dreamed of becoming; and he never traded on his glory to make a buck.


13 posted on 06/06/2004 7:32:11 PM PDT by doug9732
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To: al baby

Hate to inform you, but your mother is really your father...which explains you and your ignorant post.


14 posted on 06/06/2004 7:36:49 PM PDT by Bommer (RIP Ronald Reagan!)
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To: Kaslin

Hey all i wanted was a little bite thanks


15 posted on 06/06/2004 7:38:00 PM PDT by al baby (Hope I don't get into trouble for this)
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To: Bommer

My Father died before i was born so perhaps your right


16 posted on 06/06/2004 7:43:14 PM PDT by al baby (Hope I don't get into trouble for this)
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To: captaindude2

I was working as Press Secretary for an ideological PAC in the early 80's and we were recruiting candidates for Federal offices nationwide. This one candidate wanna be comes in and promptly announces that he was "the perfect candidate" because he was the "perfect mix" of Ronald Reagan and John Wayne. Unfortunately, upon interviewing him, we discovered that he was anything but "perfect candidate" because he was the "perfect mix" of David Duke (who was Chairman of the NAAWP at the time) and Reinhard Heydrich. It was people like him that consistently gave the leftnuts fodder to use against true conservatives and patriots.


17 posted on 06/06/2004 7:45:25 PM PDT by NCPAC
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To: churchillbuff

Where have all the cowboys gone....


18 posted on 06/06/2004 7:47:41 PM PDT by Lijahsbubbe
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To: SamAdams76

LOL! Very funny!


19 posted on 06/06/2004 7:49:13 PM PDT by Lijahsbubbe
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To: Lijahsbubbe

Nevada.


20 posted on 06/06/2004 7:52:11 PM PDT by mad_as_he$$ (Jimmy Carter is to blame)
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To: churchillbuff

Reagan and Wayne were two giants. Only Heston is up there with them, or perhaps Clint Eastwood - "Go ahead, make my day".


21 posted on 06/06/2004 8:11:22 PM PDT by ZULU (They weree)
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To: churchillbuff

Excellent post!


22 posted on 06/06/2004 8:21:10 PM PDT by Frank_2001
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To: al baby

Based on your remark; I have the following comments. You are an immature person who belongs on the Dark Side at DU. I'd imagine your IQ couldn't make the three figure quotient.


23 posted on 06/06/2004 8:29:22 PM PDT by Cobra64 (Babes should wear Bullet Bras - www.BulletBras.net)
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To: ZULU

Heston...I agree.


24 posted on 06/06/2004 8:37:28 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar (Who would the terrorists vote for?)
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To: Cobra64

he liked bullet bras too you ought to liten up you played right into me it was just a joke


25 posted on 06/06/2004 10:02:18 PM PDT by al baby (Hope I don't get into trouble for this)
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To: churchillbuff; All

I am very surprise that Ronnie did put Elizabeth Taylor full name in column at that time

Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner


26 posted on 06/06/2004 10:03:04 PM PDT by SevenofNine ("Not everybody , in it, for truth, justice, and the American way,"=Det Lennie Briscoe)
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To: zip; BOBWADE

ping


27 posted on 06/06/2004 10:19:56 PM PDT by Mrs Zip
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To: churchillbuff

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1144646/posts

Unforgettable John Wayne {by Ronald Reagan}

We must have been on the same wavelength!


28 posted on 06/06/2004 10:24:11 PM PDT by ATOMIC_PUNK (‘All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.’ TJefferson)
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To: al baby

Only a personal friend could make such a "joke" You were not a personal friend, and people here didnt take it as a joke. Your the type to kick a guy in the balls and say.... " geez what's got into him, it was just a joke"


29 posted on 06/06/2004 10:28:50 PM PDT by Walkingfeather
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To: al baby

He!!, I get a little cross when dressing once in a while, especially if it's a black suit affair.


30 posted on 06/06/2004 10:31:42 PM PDT by zip (Remember: DimocRat lies told often enough became truth to 42% of americans)
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To: churchillbuff
""That little clique back there in the East has taken great personal satisfaction reviewing my politics instead of my pictures,"

The above sounds like something someone on this forum would say.

Wayne is my all time personal favorite Hollywood star. This piece was written by my all time favorite president.

Both men are American heroes.

31 posted on 06/06/2004 11:02:13 PM PDT by TOUGH STOUGH ( A vote for George Bush is a principled vote!)
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To: churchillbuff

BUMP!


32 posted on 06/07/2004 3:40:46 PM PDT by Pagey (Hillary Rotten is (still ) a Smug and Holier- than- Thou Socialist)
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To: churchillbuff
When war broke out, John Wayne tried to enlist but was rejected because of an old football injury to his shoulder, his age (34), and his status as a married father of four. He flew to Washington to plead that he be allowed to join the Navy but was turned down.

Is this true? The Left always insists Wayne was some sort of draft dodger.

33 posted on 06/07/2004 3:45:51 PM PDT by Mr. Jeeves
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To: Pagey
Dinesh DSouze writes today, in the Scotsman:

The economist Arthur Laffer recalls that shortly after the US invasion of Grenada in 1983, he met Reagan at a conference. He told Reagan that the newspapers had reported that the administration had gone back and forth on whether to go with the invasion. Laffer asked: "What made you finally decide to do it?" Reagan said, "Well, Art, finally I asked myself, what would John Wayne have done?"

http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=645492004 Somewhere deep down, Reagan knew that John Wayne was a better guide on this occasion that the collective wisdom of the Washington establishment.

34 posted on 06/07/2004 3:54:40 PM PDT by churchillbuff
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To: Mrs Zip
Dinesh DSouze writes today, in the Scotsman:

The economist Arthur Laffer recalls that shortly after the US invasion of Grenada in 1983, he met Reagan at a conference. He told Reagan that the newspapers had reported that the administration had gone back and forth on whether to go with the invasion.

Laffer asked: "What made you finally decide to do it?" Reagan said, "Well, Art, finally I asked myself, what would John Wayne have done?"

Somewhere deep down, Reagan knew that John Wayne was a better guide on this occasion that the collective wisdom of the Washington establishment.

http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=645492004

35 posted on 06/07/2004 3:56:14 PM PDT by churchillbuff
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To: wagglebee
Region mourns 40th president

By KRISTIN DAVIS and RUTH FINCH

Date published: 6/7/2004

Brian Hyland's admiration for the nation's 40th president is on display at his downtown Fredericksburg restaurant.

A painting hanging on the wall at J. Brian's on Hanover Street depicts Ronald Reagan standing at its bar with Frank Sinatra, John Wayne and Hyland's father, Brian Hyland Sr., who died last year.

The famous trio never got together there--or anywhere else--but it was a fantasy of father and son, Hyland said yesterday.

http://www.freelancestar.com/News/FLS/2004/062004/06072004/1389251

36 posted on 06/07/2004 3:58:42 PM PDT by churchillbuff
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To: churchillbuff
Good find !

APPLAUSE !

37 posted on 06/07/2004 4:10:31 PM PDT by ChadGore (Vote Bush. He's Earned It.)
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To: churchillbuff
More words written about the Duke, but equally applicable to Dutch:

But now he's incommunicado
Leavin' such a hole in a world that believed
That a life with such bravado
Was takin' the right way home.

38 posted on 06/07/2004 4:23:49 PM PDT by Charles Martel ("Who put the Tribbles in the Quadrotriticale?")
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To: churchillbuff

BTTT


39 posted on 06/07/2004 4:35:57 PM PDT by Fiddlstix (This Tagline for sale. (Presented by TagLines R US))
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