Sunday, October 19, 2014

Two Little Queens for a Day

Many years ago there was a radio show turned TV show called "Queen For A Day." I vaguely remember it-so vaguely that I can't remember if my cousin and I watched it or listened to it or if we watched or listened at all because it would have been summer and in the summer, we were always outside playing. I can say we were aware it existed so our mothers, aunts, or grandmother must have tuned in. The idea behind the show was that women would tell their sad, personal story. Jack Bailey was the host. He would ask each of the women what they needed the most and why each wanted to be 'Queen for a Day.' The winner was chosen by an audience clapping and an applause meter reacting. Once winning the title, the queen for that day would be draped in a sable-trimmed, red velvet robe-given a jeweled crown and placed on a velvet throne. Then she'd receive red roses before an array of prizes.
That's where our imaginations took off on a hot, humid afternoon. Back then neither of us had a swimming pool. The only time we went swimming was when one particular aunt took us across the road-down a path through the woods to a river to swim before supper. We loved it. We'd eat graham crackers all the way home but this particular day was very hot. No breeze. Just the sun beating down on hayfields and the creek where we played. We had lots of fun there but you couldn't swim in the creek. There were bloodsuckers. I remember sitting on the plank bridge complaining along with my cousin-feeling sorry for ourselves that we didn't have a pool or anyone to take us swimming. Then the light bulb went off. We could go to California. We could be contestants on 'Queen for a Day.' We would surely win. We'd tell a sad tale of how good we were-helping our parents and how so horribly hot we'd get sitting on the plank bridge in the summer heat. We discussed our plans for more than a few days. Surely our parents would let us go. Of course they'd buy us the airline tickets. Any parent would do the same for their 8 or 9 year old. We planned what we'd say to Jack Bailey. We'd ask for a pool-a big pool. Unable to decide which one of us would be the Queen, we decided there would be two Queens. Needless to say, we never made the trip. But it was fun planning it-sitting on top of that old plank bridge in the summer heat.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Matt, Kitty, Doc, & Chester-Saturday Night Friends

Most every Saturday night when growing up in the country, my cousin and I slept over at our grandmother's house. One of our aunt's lived there too. Lucky for us, she never married. On those Saturday nights, cushions were removed from the sofa in the living room so we could pull our bed out.
It might as well have been a sleepover at the Waldorf Astoria. We felt like royalty on that sofa in our flannel nightgowns covered in warm blankets with puffy pillows. It was the perfect night for a sleep over because it was the best night for TV watching-starting with The Lawrence Welk Show. Our grandmother and aunt loved that show and to be honest, so did we-from the Lennon Sisters to Myron Florin, Bobby Burgess to the Champagne Lady herself, Alice Lon. But that was just a warm-up to the main event of the evening-Gunsmoke.
I can still hear Marshal Matt Dillon's spurs as he made his way along the boardwalk to the Long Branch Saloon to see Miss Kitty. I always thought Matt and Miss Kitty liked each other. I always though they'd get married. They never did. Matt Dillon was tall and handsome, always tipping his hat to the ladies yet ready to defend Dodge City from the bad guys. Miss Kitty was beautiful. Of course she had the most perfect beauty mark on the right side of her face and her long, fancy dresses made of exquisite fabrics were to die for as were her feathered hats and jewels. When she worried about Matt getting shot, so did I. Sometimes when Matt lingered at the swinging door of the Long Branch I often wondered what he was thinking-standing there saying good night to Miss Kitty.
 I loved Doc-always with his black ribbon tie and pocket watch and doses of wisdom. Chester, Matt's deputy although I don't remember if that was official, was a gentle soul complete with a limp. While there were other characters over the years, Matt, Kitty, Doc and Chester remained my favorites as we'd sit in our bed in the living room eating popcorn made in a skillet. But the night of good TV didn't end with Gunsmoke. Paladin-Have Gun Will Travel-rounded out the programming. We enjoyed Paladin. But thoughts of beautiful Miss Kitty and handsome Matt Dillon always lingered.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Me, My Friend Elaine, and Chubby Checker

     Years ago Chubby Checker was part of the entertainment lineup for an annual July event held in my hometown. For those of us of a certain age that was monumental. Most of us bought his 45s. Most everyone could do the Twist-not as good as Chubby Checker but it didn't matter. Way back when there were two high schools in our community. The one now torn down used to hold great school dances and the Twist would get everyone on the dance floor. We'd twist the night away!
I worked on the committee organizing that July event along with my friend, Elaine. We were more than excited when that night rolled around. Because my friend was beyond organized whatever the occasion, we were the first ones at the hall where Chubby would be performing. And because of her, we were the first ones to spot his bus. How exciting! We were going to meet Chubby Checker. And we did! Because of Elaine, we were the first ones he and his entourage met. Beyond exciting!
Chubby was a huge presence. Very tall with large hands and a big smile. We showed him where he'd be performing and the side room where he'd be waiting off stage. An area band would be accompanying him so they took some time talking things over.
People started trickling in. Elaine and I were all over the place until one of Chubby's people found us. They were in trouble. Chubby's one-piece stretch outfit with tons of sparkling bangles had ripped wide open in the back. They didn't have another one on the bus! The Show would soon begin.
Elaine sprang in to action. She hopped in her car and seconds later she was back with a sewing kit.
Chubby stripped down and sat beside us with a blanket around him while Elaine stitched his stretch onesie.She was good. She was fast despite the three of us laughing so hard-so very hard! After Chubby had his mended outfit back on, Elaine had him turn around a few times-bend over a few times just to make sure the stitches would hold. They had to. The King of The Twist was in the house about to let it rip. Pardon the pun!
The show was amazing. We danced and laughed and twisted all night long. That spangled outfit held its own thanks to my friend Elaine. Before leaving, Chubby thanked her again. I can still hear the reply, "Oh Chubby!" I laugh whenever I think about our sitting around with Chubby Checker. I'm sure Elaine does too!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Picking the Old Maid Every Time


When my oldest child was 3 or 4 years old we'd play Old Maid all the time. Usually my younger brother played along with us. It was always a fun time-full of laughs and jokes-until it got down to less and less cards held in each hand. That's when it became very quiet as the maneuvering and shifting of cards became the game instead of the game itself. All eyes would be on the backs of those cards and how each card was positioned and how each player played the waiting game. That was usually when my daughter blew it-especially if she was the one holding the Old Maid. And if she was the one holding that most unwanted card, she made it obvious by sticking it in the middle of her cards and holding it way above the rest. Of course she was only a little girl but she repeated this strategy every time-and every single time she'd end up with that horrid card and every single time she'd throw whatever cards she had left and go screaming to her room. Funny thing though-she'd always sit down and play Old Maid again next time. Besides being inexpensive, those little packs of cards could be played on a front porch or back porch-in the kitchen or sitting on a floor.Those little packs could go anywhere. It never mattered which game you were playing-Hearts-Slap Jack-Go Fish-Crazy 8's-even Old Maid-they provided time spent with friends and family-even if one might leave the table screaming over and over again.