Respect your Hub McCanns

Cover of "Secondhand Lions (New Line Plat...
Cover via Amazon

While I try not to recommend movies, I do admit to watching them. 🙂  And like most things in this world, most movies I have seen over the course of my life reflect man’s choice to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil — some more from the good, some, regrettably, more from the evil.

That said, a movie that my family has always enjoyed is Secondhand Lions, with Robert Duvall, Michael Caine, and Haley Joel Osment.  Recently spending so much time in the car, the kiddos asked to bring that movie along as “Car TV” watching, and it was refreshing to be reminded of some of its scenes.

In particular, one of our favorite scenes is when a group of four “greaser” teens (thus identifying the movie’s time frame) come into a store where Hub (Duvall), Garth (Caine) and “the kid” (Osment) are eating after Hub has gotten out of the hospital and, being the young “Look at me, I’m a tough guy” ruffians they are, they decide to push the “old man” around by taking some of his barbeque off his plate.

Those kids have no idea what they’re in for.

Hub decides to teach them a few things, and in response to the teen’s provocation and impertinent question, “Who do you think you are?” he grabs the threatening teen by the throat (immobilizing him but not chocking him) and addresses him and the rest:

“I’m Hub McCann. I’ve fought in two World Wars and countless smaller ones on three continents. I led thousands of men into battle with everything from horses and swords to artillery and tanks. I’ve seen the headwaters of the Nile, and tribes of natives no white man had ever seen before. I’ve won and lost a dozen fortunes, killed many men, and loved only one woman with a passion a flea like you could never begin to understand. That’s who I am.”

The result is a great “bar fight” scene, if you will (the “old man” versus the four “greaser” teens), in which four young men get a bit of a schooling.  Eventually, the humbled teens are taken back to Hub and Garth’s farm, where steaks are provided for their bruises, they are cleaned up and fed, and then they get Hub’s “What every boy needs to know about being a man” speech, with a new found respect and fondness showing in their faces.

Now, I don’t endorse “killing many men” nor “bar fights,” of course (you get that, right?), but that scene always gets to me.  I have talked to so many older individuals — in their 70s, 80s, and 90s — who have lived such rich lives that no one would ever know about unless they asked.

It’s so easy for younger people to get caught up in their own lives, interests, and concerns, that they often don’t consider taking the time to talk to the elderly person they know, perhaps sitting just a few feet away from them at services.  (And when we’re talking about individuals of these ages, guys in their 40s like me count as “younger people”!)  Like the teenage greasers in the movie, a young person’s life, experiences, and outlook are all often so much narrower than he or she fully comprehends, and those who have already lived full lives before we were even born not only deserve our respect, but also represent resources of a kind of depth and richness that would probably shock many of us.

God attaches respect and honor given to the elderly directly to respect and honor given to Him:

“You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD.” — Lev. 19:32

That scene and Hub McCann’s words always remind me of that.

5 thoughts on “Respect your Hub McCanns

  1. 13brian

    Well said, my family was able to have a very enjoyable and unforgettable experience with an aged gentleman a few years ago, who is now deceased. We really enjoy the time and experience from delving into their lives and experiences. Their outlooks on things is often astounding, with an astuteness that comes only from experience. There are plenty of others from which we can glean valuable information that we would enjoy spending time with also, thank you for the reminder.
    In today’s society with all of the busy influences and all-to-easily oft misdirected focus, it is easy to take for granted this invaluable yet fleeting resource of knowledge and wisdom that we all need in our lives. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes have much to say about that subject, which is indeed wise to be well heeded.

  2. Heh. 🙂 Had this been The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, I’d have sent those four teens out as punishment to face ten thousand orcs charging in the rain. Unarmed. With magic charms that would bring them safely (for the moment) back into the keep’s walls when they realized how sheltered their lives had been heretofore.

    It couldn’t happen to a nicer quartet of greasers.

  3. Steve

    I haven’t seen this movie, but based on your recommendation, I’ll have to check it out!

    Another good movie about old guys is “The World’s Fastest Indian.” It’s a true story about a 68 year old New Zealand man who breaks the world’s speed record with a (highly modified) 1932 motorcycle. It’s quirky, funny, and inspiring.

    Early in the movie, young motorcycle punks challenge him to a race. He can’t get his motorcycle started, so the punks get a giant head start. Then zoom! the old guy blows by them like they were snails.

    At the end of the movie, he arrives unannounced at the Bonneville Salt Flats. The officials there don’t what to think. Eccentric old man with a weird motorcycle and a thick accent. They give the old guy a test run, just to get rid of him. He breaks the land speed record for motorcycles! (And that record still stands today).

  4. This movie is in our collection; it is indeed a good movie. Most haven’t heard about it because most in our society are not looking for such movies. You know my mom called crying because my 63 year old sister who lives in NJ could get no help to shovel out the drive way and get to work. Mom is 92 and she was recalling the “old days”. I was proud to remember them with her; it was a time when after a snow storm the able bodied in the neighborhood were out going from one driveway to another. I’m blessed to see a very small portion of that from one or two of my neighbors but it certainly is not on the same calliber that it use to be. Sorry that was probably a bit of topic, though respect was a motivation for helping those around us.

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