It is that place where a person can do well while doing no good. It is where discipline encounters temptation and good fortune meets bad luck. Admiral Boulevard is the margin Johnny Cash sings about in “I Walk the Line.”
The Outsiders – both the book and the movie – take place along Admiral Boulevard. The book has sold more than 14 million copies making it the bestselling young adult novel of all time. Susie Hinton was a junior at Will Rogers High School just 5 blocks south of Admiral Boulevard when she wrote it. She was given a D in creative writing that year.
Admiral Boulevard is bordered on the east by the Mingo traffic circle and on the west by the tragic Greenwood District. The six miles between those bookends is what I once described as “the neighborhood of Ponyboy Curtis, an unfiltered assortment of bent automobiles, broken houses and discarded people.”
Susie encountered hostility when her book was released in 1967. She says, “I think the first hostile reaction was to the idea that not all teens were living in a ’50s sitcom. People know better nowadays.”
Susie is just 9 years older than me, so we know some of the same people. We all grew up with one thing in common; those little teeth nipping at our heels wasn’t a puppy, it was poverty.
The once-rich and influential Greenwood District of Tulsa was known as “Black Wall Street” in the years following the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt, but on May 31, 1921, a white mob set fire to hundreds of black-owned businesses and homes, killing 300 Americans and leaving more than 10,000 homeless.
Forty square blocks were smoldering when the sun came up the next morning.
No one was prosecuted.
Susie’s book is about life on the margin of that page in history forty-five years later. The Outsiders is about the tensions between country-club whites and those paycheck-to-paycheck whites like Susie and me.
Francis Ford Coppola won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1970 for Patton, and two years later he won three more Oscars for The Godfather. Then he discovered Susie’s book, turned it into a screenplay, gathered up some no-name kids and gave them a chance to become superstars.
Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Diane Lane, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, and C. Thomas Howell were barely more than children when they made The Outsiders in 1983.
Two years later we saw The Breakfast Club, and the following year, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
The Outsiders served as a launchpad for a number of careers and a whole new genre of movies. The ripple effect of a well-told story is staggering.
You have a story.
Your business has a story.
And your future is a story yet to be written.
Very soon Daniel Whittington will announce The Ad Writers Masters Class on behalf of the American Small Business Institute. This will be be your chance to write an altogether different future for yourself and the people you love.
My thoughts about Susie Hinton and The Outsiders were triggered by something written by Mike Dooley:
“The one thing all famous authors, world class athletes, business tycoons, singers, actors, and celebrated achievers in any field have in common is that they all began their journeys when they were none of these things.”
Have a golden week.
Roy H. Williams
I made a really awesome rabbit hole for you this week. Try to make some time for it. And guess what? Magical Worlds is going to be livestreamed! – Indy
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