Sound Bites from Memory Hell and NBC

      Sound Bites from Memory Hell and NBC

Wally Cleaver died!

Wally who you ask? Well if you did and you are a Baby Boomer you either grew up without a television or lived on Mars.

Anyone who existed before the advent of color TV knows Wally was the Beaver’s brother, or as some may also know him, Eddie Haskell’s best friend.

Tony Dow was only 77 years old, and no I can’t believe I would ever put the word only in front of 77 years old, and he’s certainly left me feeling mortal. Yet incredibly nostalgic for the great old shows I loved as a kid.

When I remember childhood so much excitement and comfort existed within the confines of that box in the living room playing moving pictures. This new and awesome friend became the babysitter, entertainer and object of amazement as we sat, eyes glued and sucking in the wonder.

The shock of growing older is stifled by the amazing ability we humans have to live in a permanent state of denial about aging. Unless we are faced with an-in-your-face situation like illness or we trip over our own boob when we remove our bra, we can pretty much go along believing we are still in our thirties and all life lies ahead.

Please do not for one moment think I’m surprised a celebrity could die. I do not labor under the delusion that because you’ve been on television or starred on the big screen you are immortal. Although, actually in a crazy sense you are and our favorite shows provide a sense of that earth-standing-still mentality. Characters and plots, always constant offer some feeling of assurance things haven’t really changed despite the reality that exists when we turn away from our television screen.

So many programs have casts now gone to celebrity heaven. Their only problem is there are no agents in heaven and therefore no multi million-dollar deals. Too sad, yet residuals aside I’m certain we’d all be happy to know that Samantha is still tweaking her nose, The Golden Girls are still listening to Rose’s St. Olaf stories and Roy Rogers and Trigger are still catching the bad guys.

Soupy Sales is throwing pies at the angels, Granny Clampett is still swimming in the ceement pond and Barney Fyfe is screwing up and getting haircuts from Floyd the Barber. Ozzie Nelson never leaves the house to go to work, Perry Mason always has the killer on the stand five minutes before the end of the show, Ben Cartwright has four grown, unmarried sons living with him on the Ponderosa, The Twilight Zone is creeping everyone out and Groucho Marks is still smoking a cigar and waiting for the duck to drop down. Oh yes, Father Knows Best, Jack Benny is playing that violin and The Real McCoys still are. Maverick is playing poker and looking damn good, Donna Reed is making oatmeal at eight in the morning in a silk shirtwaist, heels and pearls. (Yeah, like that ever happened in real life. My mother was still in her nightgown when I got home from school). 

Dobie Gillis is chasing women and Maynard G. Krebs is still allergic to work. Dick Clark is at the bandstand looking twenty-five, never aging and introducing Frankie Avalon. Danny Thomas is hoping to Make Room for DaddyDeath Valley still is, Bugs Bunny is dressing up with a mop on his head and lipstick to entice the Tasmanian Devil and the Naked City never got dressed. Wagon Train is heading west and Chester is limping on Gunsmoke while Miss Kitty wears those feather boas around her neck. Jack Webb is getting “just the facts, Mam” on Dragnet, Ralph Cramden is driving a bus and Norton is addressing the ball on The Honeymooners. We always love Lucy although she still has some splainin to do.

The Flying Nun hasn’t landed, and believe it or not the professor can figure out how to make a radio, but not how to fix the boat so they all remain on Gilligan’s Island.

That Girl lives in an expensive New York apartment and dresses in couture while working part time, and Hogan’s Heroes are outwitting the Germans because Shultz “knows nothing.”

Jeannie walks around with her navel uncovered and sleeps in a bottle, Mission Impossible still is and on Green Acres Eva Gabor dresses every day for an inaugural ball and possessed the first Glam Squad. Get Smart is hanging out in the cone of silence and Petticoat Junction is well, yeah, right. Colombo, like every real-life detective figures out the killer in the first two minutes and Beep Beep Rosie is cleaning The Jetsons’ house. And when is she coming to clean mine already?

Sky King is flying around heaven and Uncle Miltie is dressing up as a woman and making us all laugh. Buddy Sorrell is insulting Mel Cooley while Laura Petrie is yelling, “Oh Rob”.

The Brady Bunch is surrounded by avocado green appliances and wood paneled rooms, My Favorite Martian is living with Bill Bixby and moving his head antenna up and down unable to leave earth. Lassie is saving Timmy and Lois Lane hasn’t figured out the guy she’s in love with is really Clark Kent. Sid Caesar does the best fake accents anywhere on Your Show of Shows and Gracie Allen is a lovable airhead while George just smokes his cigar and patiently grins. Red Skelton is still Clem Kadiddlehopper, Our Miss Brooks is unsuccessfully lusting after Mr. Boynton and Abbot and Costello are asking, “Who’s on first?”

My Little Margie is driving her dad Charlie Farrell and his boss Mr. Honeywell crazy which is why Farrell went on to open The Racket Club in Palm Springs when land there was five dollars an acre. December Bride is living with her children while they search to find her a husband and Liberace is still in the closet sporting a candelabra for some additional class.

Ernie Kovacs’ wackiness and brilliance remains greatly missed by all and  I Married Joan introduced Jim Backus who went on be Mr. Magoo and Thurston Howell the III. Mr. Peepers is a shy science professor who’s not as scatterbrained as people think, and Fury is still a magnificent black stallion.

Red Buttons is singing Hidiho and F Troop can’t find their way out of a paper bag. The Life of Riley still is and Ann Southern continues to be a very Private SecretaryTopper remains plagued with ghosts and an alcoholic St. Bernard and The Millionaire’s Michael Anthony refuses to drop off my check. 

Yo Rinty! Need I add more? 

The Bob Cummings Show has Alice B. Davis madly in love with her boss but getting nowhere, which is probably why she left and became Alice on The Brady Bunch.

Sgt. Bilko is the best con man in any man’s army and actually managed to get a monkey, Harry Speak Up inducted. Lest we ever forget Sheena Queen of the Jungle or how no week could ever begin properly without The Ed Sullivan Show

But of course no list of great shows could ever be complete without the Mouse. I had my ears ready every day while Jimmy Dodd and Big Roy led the Mouseketeers through the theme of that day’s show. My favorite was Friday when Spin and Marty at the Double R Bar RanchAnnette and all fun series were featured. Although, Anything-Can-Happen Day on Wednesdays was pretty damn good stuff too.

I know I’ve left some oldies but goodies out so you could fill in your favorites. Please send me any I’ve forgotten and your thoughts on those shows. Hey! Why do I have to do all the work here? Just kidding, I love remembering all the happy moments these shows brought into my life as a kid and even today. I hope I just brought some new smiles to you.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie And Please Teach Me How!

“Innocent sleep. Sleep that soothes away all our worries. Sleep that puts each day to rest. Sleep that relieves the weary laborer and heals hurt minds. Sleep, the main course in life’s feast, and the most nourishing.” Macbeth.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie and Please Teach Me How

Like getting older doesn’t bring enough fun surprises; little things appearing on your body from who knows where, foods you always enjoyed determined to go ten rounds with your digestive ability and always losing your glasses to the top of your head. Now sleep depravation is a new wrinkle with which to contend.

It’s hard to believe now that I was never a great sleeper. As a child I fought sleep with every particle of my being, frightened I would miss something of cosmic importance while my head was ensconced in my fluffy pillow. Of course now I realize at this age such events would be a good thing to miss.

I would do everything to avoid my bedtime using pleas of “one more show, please, I didn’t see Uncle Miltie yet, can’t I watch the fights with Grandpa or I hear the Northern Lights are heading toward Michigan and I want to see if they show up.”

These excuses fell on deaf ears so I contented myself to lie in bed listening to my Zenith clock radio until midnight when my favorite show Lee Allen on the Horn closed with Frank Sinatra’s classic I Can’t Get Started With You. Then I would succumb to dreamland unsure as to whether or not I had missed some earth-shattering event.

This all changed when I hit the teen years and discovered sleeping until noon was a luxury I could definitely get behind and endorse. Many a time I greeted my friends on a Sunday afternoon still in my pajamas while we sat on my bed listening to records and exchanging the latest tidbits of gossip. Sounds rather frivolous now looking back at how we probably should have been discussing how to change the world or learning about how to end political corruption. But I digress.

After I was blessed with children I realized how valuable a few moments of sleep could be. I would have traded everything I had to close my eyes for even fifteen minutes and know blissful sleep once again. A Porsche, no thanks, but can you watch the kids for half and hour so I can get some ZZZs, please?

There was a short time between toddler and teen when I was blessed with trips to dreamland and happily crawled into bed at the end of a long and fun-filled day of cooking cleaning, laundry, shopping and attempting to close my zippers over my ever-expanding waistline.

Then I once again found myself lacking sleep when my children secured a driver’s license and I couldn’t enter dreamland until the garage door opened and I was certain they were safely in the house.

Different stages of life require various amounts of sleep. I am surprised at how I functioned with so little sleep when my kids were babies and teenagers and how much I seemed to need as a teen. And therein lies the rub, because now that I have all the time in the world to snooze, a good night’s sleep seems as out of reach as a face free of wrinkles or thighs that don’t shake like Los Angeles when I walk.

I know I’m not alone in my attempts to sleep through the night as many friends have also shared their stories. Tales abound of how their trips to the bathroom each night find them wide-awake and searching for the remote to continue the Frasier or Golden Girls marathon. I myself find that falling asleep even for two minutes in the middle of a show constitutes a nap to my old confused body and I’m up and good for a few hours more as I flip around and settle on Netflix at three in the morning.

No matter how many times I try to tell my addled mind that two minutes do not a night’s sleep make, I am not getting through and only with the help of a good antihistamine can I accomplish this goal. As one who would rather not depend on drugs to do the trick I have conversations before bed with my subconscious about the benefits of sleep and how we must be nice to us. Yet it all falls on deaf ears and there I am once again at five thirty in the morning staring at the screen and wondering how in the world I am going to awaken for that doctor appointment at eight o’ clock and function on less than three hours sleep.

Well, that’s the point; I can’t. The next day I sleepwalk through my responsibilities until I sit down at three o’clock or so, turn on the television and quickly pass out. 

Of course this lovely afternoon nap is a precursor to another night of eyes wide open staring at a Frasier rerun or The Birdcage viewing. I fight desperately to avoid some anxiety producing reality, but once awake my mind runs through all the stressful situations with which I am currently faced like a scanner on steroids.

So I turn once again to Sophia calling Blanche a slut and wonder how I could have ever taken sleep for granted.

Of course one wonders how much sleep is the optimum amount for someone in the laugh laugh golden years? I’d have to say enough to get through the day, but not too little to add to the ever increasing bags under your eyes.

I’ve always believed seven hours was my minimum but I have learned I can get by on six. In a pinch five, but less than five is iffy. I had three one night last week and my grandson had to wake me in the middle of our binge watching The Good Place.

Not to be maudlin but do you think your subconscious is trying to tell you, “lay off the sleep so much, you’ll get plenty of sleep soon?”

Yipes, that makes me want to stay up all night.

So reading into that Macbeth quote perhaps Shakespeare was hoping for a good night’s sleep also, and those complimentary words are his way of kissing up to the sleep gods.

At this point I’m a firm believer whatever it takes to get some ZZZs I’ll do, even if it means missing out on some world-changing event. As we’ve all learned, despite Shakespeare’s optimistic view of sleep, life will still be waiting for you in the morning. Sleep well, Readers.