Column, Looking Back

Looking Back: Friends sharing memories

Chatting with friends during our weekly breakfast often results in a few “looking back” thoughts for my column. After all, looking back is what our age group does best!

One subject we reminisced about was old TV shows. Back in the 1950s, there were not a lot of channels available, which meant very limited viewing choices. There was usually just one television in a house, so whatever our parents watched, we watched also.

Most likely, the TV was located in the living room, unless your house had a den. If it did, that was usually the preferred spot.

Saturday and Sunday nights found most families gathered around the TV.

Everyone at the breakfast table remembered watching “The Lawrence Welk Show” on Saturday nights at 9 p.m. Lawrence was the big-band leader. He had regular performers on his show each week, and viewers looked forward to seeing them. My parents, who are both of Irish descent, eagerly awaited hearing the voice of Irish tenor Joe Feeney. Lively piano pieces by Jo Ann Castle, the Queen of Ragtime Piano, put a spark in our evening. I looked forward to seeing the Lennon Sisters. When they started on the show, their ages ranged from 8 to 16. Their song choices appealed to the younger audience.

We also had fond memories of watching “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Sunday nights from 8 to 9 p.m. I did some research to learn who the most popular guests were on that show. The biggest name would probably be Elvis Presley! He was just beginning his career when he appeared on the show for the first time, and 60 million viewers tuned in to watch him. One of the most frequent guests was singer Connie Francis, who was on 26 times. Husband and wife comics Stiller and Meara appeared 36 times. Ventriloquist Rickie Layne was on 39 times. There was something for everyone on Ed Sullivan’s show.

Our breakfast gang also discussed how our parents enjoyed watching re-runs of their favorite shows long after many of the people in them were no longer living. As the years moved forward, the number of shows viewers had access to increased dramatically. So why not watch the new shows where everyone on them is among the living? Well, now that we are “seniors” ourselves, we can admit to the joy we find these days in watching our own favorite shows from the past, in spite of some cast members being deceased. Seeing the old shows keeps our fun memories from yesteryear alive.

Another topic of conversation among us was how we are turning into our parents as we age. We considered some of their interests to be pretty silly when we were younger. For instance, a couple of us remember our parents checking out the various birds in their yards. I know my father loved to sit outside and see the different types of birds that paid us a visit. When we were younger, we had no interest in sitting still long enough to watch birds. But now I love to sit outside by our bird feeder and watch the antics of my fine feathered friends. I even sit out there on a nice winter day. Spending time in nature is relaxing, and getting fresh air is always a good thing. That is probably exactly why our parents did it.

Our “looking back” conversation moved on to the fact that vinyl records are making a comeback. It seems that young people like the sound quality that comes from vinyl 78s and 45s. Most of us have gotten rid of ours, so we will have to stick with modern ways of listening to music. But you know what “they” say: “What goes round… comes round.” Apparently, that is happening when it comes to the best way to listen to music.

By the time we left the table, even dollar bills had entered our conversation. Four of us have handled money in our jobs, and when bank deposits were prepared, the dollar bills all had to go in exactly the same direction—no “upside down heads!” These days, money from bank tellers and ATMs are every-which-way! I can’t resist the urge to fix that when I get home.

All of us like our dollar bills to be in either ascending or descending order in our wallets. I don’t take time to arrange them when I am handed change at a cash register because I don’t want to be the “old lady” who annoys the people behind her! I remember wanting to hurry those people along when I was young, and they were in front of me organizing their money.

If you are too young to have these memories, you now have a peek at what life was like in yesteryear. You will be looking back yourself some day, and I hope it will be as much fun for you as it is for us.

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