Thursday, May 28, 2009

Grandma's Story - Chapter 5, Part 2

Chapter 5, Part 2

My sister and I had favorite TV shows. There was Serial Theater, which consisted of episodes of old movie serials, a different one each day. Flash Gordon was a sci-fi space serial; Tim Tyler’s Luck took place in a jungle, with the Jungle Cruiser; Gene Autry combined westerns, mystery and sci-fi; and a serial about the navy at war with a nurse named Mercedes. We also watched lots of Westerns on early TV: we liked Crash, Dusty and Alibi, and Hopalong Cassidy. Channel 13 in those days was a kid’s channel, all old cartoons and westerns from the movies. After school we watched original made-for-TV programs like Howdy Doody with Clarabel the Clown, a nasty creature, and Buffalo Bob – I was envious of the kids who got to sit in the "Peanut Gallery" and be on the show. Kukla, Fran and Ollie, a puppet show, was a favorite. My friends and I liked a kids game show called "Sense or Nonsense" and we desperately wanted to be contestants. Later, our favorites were the space themed shows like Tom Corbett Space Cadet and especially Captain Video, with the video ranger and the alien Spartak. These were very low tech indeed compared to Star Wars and Star Trek. But they were great fun!

My Grandpa also had his favorite shows but no television set; he and Grandma lived across the street from our church, only a block away. He would come to our house to watch the Lone Ranger and the Groucho Marx quiz show "You Bet Your Life". Only he had listened to the Groucho Marx show on the radio the day before and tell us the answers and the jokes.

Of course, we did many things – even 50 or 60 years ago – that you and your friends still do today. Like the movies. On Saturday mornings, the Parthenon Theater was turned over to kids: cartoons, serials and double features. Too bad you couldn’t hear a thing with all the noise and screaming. I liked to go to the movies with my Mom on Thursday nights, the night they gave away free dishes. In those days there were always two films, a double feature, with newsreels and cartoons in between and of course, coming attractions. My Mom and I always got there late, in the middle of a picture. We’d see the second half, the next movie and then stay until Mom announced "This is where we came in." Knowing how the movie ended did not spoil the fun for me.

We may not have had video games or computer games, but we had lots of board games, some that you still play like Clue and Scrabble . When I was 11 years old, we spent the summer at Rockaway Beach. My summer friends and I played one Monopoly game that lasted the whole summer. Mainly because Joey Hannigan, who was always winning, would throw us money when we went bankrupt. We also loved to play cards and the games were ones you know: Old Maid, Go Fish, Rummy, War and Knuckles- if you lost at Knuckles, you got "knucks" on your knuckles with the edge of the card deck. Ouch!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Grandma's Story - Chapter 5 - for Chase

Last Wednesday was my the birthday of my first grandson, Chase. He turned 13 and I look forward to spending time with him today at the Mall, hunting for his birthday gift and eating lunch at one of the cafes. Things we like to do together. This year I wrote a chapter of Grandma's Story dedicated to Chase.

What Did You Do for Fun?
For Chase
Today young people have so much to keep them entertained – like your SPORE game on the computer, television and DVD’s. Some of your friends probably have I-pods and Wii’s and other techy play things I haven’t even heard of. So maybe you wonder what kids did for fun way back when Grandma was a kid.

There were no computers in those days. Not even TV, at first. I remember the first time I even heard the word "television". It was at the dinner table and someone mentioned that a kid in the hospital had gotten a television set. I wondered what is that? and imagined it was like an erector set. The first time I watched TV was at my cousin’s house; all of the kids gathered around this little television set with a tiny screen to watch a cartoon show.
Meanwhile, my family listened to the radio. We liked Jack Benny, Amos n’ Andy, Fibber Magee and Molly, and Fred Allen – all comedy shows. We listened to the "Inner Sanctum", a scary program that opened with a squeaky door. And there were radio shows just for kids. I would imagine what the characters on those shows looked like. Once my Mom took us to see the radio show being broadcast; we were in the audience. How surprised I was to discover that the radio personalities looked nothing like I had imagined.

We got a television set when I was 7 or 8 years old. It was a big tube, with lots of smaller tubes, in a wooden square box. My father would try to fix it by fiddling with the tubes in the back, while I told him if the picture had stopped jumping or if it was in focus. When that didn’t work, he gave it a whack on its side and very often that whack did the trick. Television in those days was a test of patience. Many were the days that the studios’ signal went out and we would just sit in front of the set, staring at a test pattern. Which was kind of like a target that didn’t do anything.

To be continued .....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Marina, Mom and May

Yesterday was my granddaughter’s 16th birthday. And Marina is the epitome of Sweet Sixteen! Our whole family is grateful for the blessing of this beautiful young woman. But I’d like to talk about a special gift I received just from her May birth.

As a teen and young adult, I loved the coming of Spring. When I smelled the fresh new growth, saw the trees begin to swell with budding life, felt the soft rain, and heard the cheery chirping of the birds – my heart would overflow with happy memories associated with this season of life: baseball season back, playing outdoors, school term coming to an end.

Then one year, my Mom was so sick, dying from breast cancer. She died on May 17th. The next year when I smelled and saw and felt Spring approach, I was overwhelmed with sadness. I burst into tears at times. My body knew, before my mind figured it out. Spring and the month of May were now sadly linked with Mom’s death. This continued year after year. May was ruined for me.

In 1993 my first grandchild, Marina, was born – on May 15th. And to my astonishment, the joy of Spring and May returned to me with this wonderful gift of Marina, and later, two more May grandkids. Now when I smell the trees and see the colorful Spring flowers, I once more experience joy and excitement. I like to think my Mom in Heaven had something to do with this gift. Like it was her way to give me back Spring and May. That would be so like my Mom. Always giving. Thank you Mom. And thank you, Tina and Reed, for the gift of 3 beautiful May grandkids.

Star Trek

What a treat my 2009 Mothers Day was! Dinner at Weight Watchers’ friendly Applebee’s and a huge azalea from hubby; a box of delicious, nutritious fruit, and 2 gorgeous bouquets from my kids. And then my son-in-law treated us all to the new movie – Star Trek.

I have already confessed what a Star Trek addict I am. I’ve seen all 5 TV versions over and over again. In fact, I watched 5 episodes of TNG this week and am currently renting DS9 from Netflix for the second time around. But I never really got into the Star Trek movies; one or two I’ve never even seen.

So how happy I was to be absolutely enthralled by this new Star Trek movie about the early history of Kirk, Spock and crew. From the action packed opening blast that treated of birth and death, I was totally hooked. The villain was nasty enough, the action was non-stop, the story flowed. Even the time travel didn’t give me a headache. And this film was funny; in fact, it was great fun! Enjoyed by 3 generations in our theater row alone. I know from the reaction of my 13 year old grandson who was sitting next to me.
But what really worked in this film were the characters of Kirk and Spock. To capture their individual personalities, and then to develop their unique relationship, was a gem of filmmaking. These young actors made the old beloved characters come alive and blossom for me once more.
I loved the ending, which is the opening of the first Star Trek TV series. I hope it means much more to come. Star Trek – Live Long and Prosper.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Remember Mom

This Mother’s Day I feel very grateful for the legacy that my Mom gave to me. Her strength, courage, perseverance and dreams have inspired me and shaped my life. Elizabeth (Betty) L. was a stay-at-home Mom who was definitely not your typical ‘50’s homemaker. She wasn’t much for cooking or housecleaning. She loved shopping – always for everyone else – and going to the movies. Mom was very involved in our schooling, "hearing our homework" every night and demanding near perfection – just ask my sister! She attended a two year high school and made it clear that I would go to college. I think she would have liked to go to college and have a career herself. I believe that it was this desire of hers that helped me achieve so much academically, including a B.S. degree in Math and an M.S. in gerontology. Plus a career serving older adults. Thank you Mom for your faith in me and your not-so-gentle pushes that I sorely needed.

When Dad died suddenly at age 55, Mom was already working and now had 4 children still at home, including my youngest brothers aged 13 and 10. She never felt sorry for herself but did what needed to be done. I have often said that I inherited my "bouncebackability" from my Mom. She never gave up. Her battle with cancer is a lesson in how to deal with illness and dying. How lucky I am to have been blessed with such a Mom!

I am also grateful for all the wonderful mothers who have been part of my life: my grandmothers, aunts, sister, cousins and friends. And the next generation of Mommys: my daughters, daughter-in-law, nieces, including Audra, the newest Mommy in the family. And on and on. Happy Mother’s Day!