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Marines' Use of The Term, "Good People," 1950s

October 17 2002 at 4:06 PM
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Dick G  (Login Dick Gaines)
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A favorite pastime of Marines, is to discuss the origins, meanings of various Marine Corps slang words and terms, e.g., scuttlebutt, OohRah, head, feather merchant, etc.

One of the terms that I recall, dates back at least to the early '50s when I joined the Corps, and that was the term, "Good People!"

This was used in the context of referring to another, such as, "Yeah, I know him, too--he is good people!"

Individuals were referred to as good people--usually a Marine, but possibly others as well--I don't remember that specific point for sure. Nor am I now certain that this term was strictly a Marine Corps term or not, but it certainly was used a lot by Marines.

In any case, it seems to have disappeared from the lexicon of Marines long before I left active duty in 1972.
-Dick Gaines

This message has been edited by Dick Gaines from IP address on Oct 17, 2002 6:47 PM

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Dick Gaines
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"Re Good People" (Shane)

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October 4 2003, 11:53 AM 


Average rating: Intense and BeautifulThe film version of Jack Schaefer's 1949 novel "Shane" is one of those touchstone movies of childhood, along the lines of the unforgettable tearjerker "Old Yeller." The last scenes of the film are sure to bring a lump to the throat of the most stalwart among us.

With memories of the film firmly etched in my mind, I decided to read Schaefer's novel, to go to the source itself and see whether the book is better than the movie. I have to say Shane as a novel is a must read, even more important than watching the film version.

The plot should be familiar to many people. The Starrett family is working some land in Wyoming, trying to cut a living out of the rugged landscape. Several other families are staking claims in the area even though Fletcher, the big rancher in the region, hates their presence and is working behind the scenes to drive them out. The homesteaders look to Joe Starrett to protect their interests in the face of this intimidation, a battle Joe is slowly losing until the arrival of Shane.

When Shane arrives, he quickly takes up residence with the Starrett family, working as a hand around the place. Within a short period of time Shane finds himself sucked into the feud between Fletcher and the homesteaders. Ranch hands goad Shane into several violent fistfights, although Shane goes out of his way to avoid trouble. As the level of conflict escalates and the dangerous qualities of Shane emerge, Fletcher brings in a hired gun from the outside to deal with the troublesome homesteaders for the last time. The final scenes of the novel balance gripping action with the heartrending departure of Shane back into the wilderness from which he came.

Schaefer pulls off a triumph of epic proportions with this short novel. Not only is the story told in a sparse, no nonsense style, Schaefer makes Joe Starrett's son Bob the narrator of the story. Through this touchingly innocent narration, Bob manages to convey the mysterious qualities of Shane while still revealing adult themes. For example, a rather platonic love emerges between Shane and Marion, Bob's mother. Joe knows about the love springing up between the two but chooses to keep it in perspective. The beauty of this incident is how Bob relates it; he discusses it just as a child would, without really understanding the implications of the situation while the reader understands perfectly what is happening. Brilliant, just brilliant!

Shane is the main character of the novel even though we do not learn much about him. Shane is an enigma clad in dark clothing, riding in off the land like some mysterious omen of doom. Schaefer tells us nothing about Shane's past, although it is obvious he is a master with a pistol and that he has a checkered past involving trouble of some sort. Whatever trouble Shane is in, he is what we would call "good people." Shane wants to avoid conflict, but he will never back down from a fight or fail to help people who treat him as a friend. His past haunts his actions, making him reluctant to rely on his seemingly vast reservoirs of strength. When pushed to the wall, Shane lashes out with a terrible violence usually kept in check because he knows what he is capable of doing to a man.

There are several themes arcing their way through this book. One deals with fate and how it is impossible to escape your past. Another involves violence; not reckless violence of the type employed by Fletcher and his goons, but a measured violence used to solve a seemingly insolvable situation. Schaefer shows us that no matter what our intentions in this life, there are going to be times when violence in the name of a cause is the only answer to those who are incapable of relying on any method other than intimidation to get what they want out of life.

This is an excellent read for any type of reader both young and old, although that does not make it a necessarily easy book. The bare bones writing style makes it very easy to gloss over important themes and symbolisms. In other words, "Shane" is a book to think about both when reading it and after finishing the story. Reading the story more than once may not be a bad idea, as more themes are sure to emerge from this fascinating character study. Schaefer dedicated "Shane," his first book, to his first son. What a beautiful and wondrous tribute.
Shane - A great morality tale for those who still believe in heroesThis remains my favorite book, and I've read thousands, literally, over the years, including some pretty sophisticated stuff (I have an M.A. in American History from Columbia). I saw the movie when it first came out. I was a New York City area kid then, and I fell in love with the Tetons where it was filmed. I then bought the book and loved it. I was captured very early by the scene involving Shane and Joe Starrett and Ledyard, the phony salesman. When Ledyard asks Starrett how he can take the word of a stranger, Shane, Starrett responds: "I can figure men for myself. I'll take his word on anything he wants to say any day of God's whole year."

I still get chills re-reading those words; I still strive to live so others might say that of me. Can there be any higher praise? So... read it, and give it to your kids. If you have brought them up right, Shane will become one of their heroes and perhaps they will "grow strong and straight" as Shane wishes for young Joey Starrett in the book.

- ShaneThat's why they call them kids"I had to read it for school. and I hated it!" seems to be the common theme, here. As a middle school teacher, I can vouch for the observable fact that many many children 1. hate to read (sad) and 2. hate to read - even more - what they are told to read. Shane, while now somewhat dated, was a classic in it's time, and often imitated. One direct imitation is the Clint Eastwood movie, "Pale Rider", which serves as a wonderful comparison piece. As far as the young reviewers not being able to "understand" the novel "Shane", one can only ask if TV has destroyed their brain cells, or if they can't understand how Shane and Marion resisted their temptation to be with each other at the expense of friend and husband Joe Starret. In today's age, such restraint must surely seem confusing. A fine, easy- to- read book.Top Book productsReal Buy
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will poole
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good people

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October 4 2003, 9:11 PM 

gunny, in the corp from feb 1956 to feb 62. remember the term good people quite well. in fact i still use the term today. to descibe some of good char.

semper fi will poole

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