At the time my sister and I were living in Decatur, most families had a television set. But not us. We would go to the neighbors and watch the Mickey Mouse Club, the $64,000 Question and anything else that happened to be on. In short, we were mesmerized by the new medium. Mother relished the fact that we enjoyed TV because any of our viewing took place at other people’s homes.
Dad kept telling us that TV was a fad and that soon most people would come to their senses and stop watching shows and start reading books and having stimulating conversations. Wow! In this instance was he ever wrong!
One of Dad’s clients owned a TV business and one Christmas he gave Lindy and me a “portable” television. It was huge and heavy and sat on a huge, heavy table. Now I could watch American Bandstand on my own black and white set. Our family was doing one thing that seemed to make us more normal.
Unfortunately, Mother didn’t see the need for her children to congregate in the living room anytime but particularly during American Bandstand at 4PM. In addition, Lindy and I began watching shows about families–Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, and the Brady Bunch were always on our viewing schedule. These families gave us an even more distorted view of our own family. On the shows, Mothers wore pearls to dust, and no one raised their voice to anyone else. I began to see our family as extremely dysfunctional and the TV confirmed my worst fears.
I am happy to say that later in life, (while I was still holding on to some of my illusions) I became acquainted with Kathryn Doty who had been married in real life to the dad from Leave It to Beaver, Hugh Beaumont. Kathy Doty helped me understand that even Hugh Beaumont was no Ward Cleaver. Every family has problems, doesn’t yours?