Where Are The Super Women?
I Confess: Im In Deep Love
It all started in 1961. My tale of lamented-love originated with my now-ex brother-in-law and his then wife, my sister, who lived with my family because they had choice due to the ill economy in that time of my life. One day, my brother-in-law came home with a marvelous invention: A Philco black and white television. What a day that was! I thought I had been raptured into God's celestial city when my dad and my brother-in-law raised the outside antenna with aerials that went criss-cross to pick up the two stations available back then: WBRC, Channel 6, Birmingham, Alabama and WCBI, Channel 4, Columbus, Mississippi. The lack of television stations was not a problem for us. We had a television. Now we could be like somebody and hold our heads up with pride.
It was like a family ritual that rivaled the timing of some far-away tribe of Indians in the Amazon Jungle--everyone had their place and everyone knew to be quiet as our few television programs for that night were coming on the small screen that sometimes grew snowy and wavy as the reception had to be adjusted by going outside and manually-turning the aluminium pole that was attached to the side of our house. This was not a favorite task of anyone.
There were the westerns: Gunsmoke, Buckskin, Have Gun Will Travel and Ward Bond in Wagon Train. Then there were the modern police shows: M-Squad with Lee Marvin, Tightrope with a young Mike Connors and my favorite, Highway Patrol with bad-tempered Broderick Crawford. I loved these shows. And grew to love the new addition to our house, the television, deeper each passing day. And Saturday was Major League Baseball sponsored by Falstaff Beer and the personality who called the game was famous ex-pro baseball pitcher, Dizzy Dean. I loved that guy. He was everything that was America. At that time.
Now for the serious, heartbreaking part of my story. And I would be a great candidate to talk to a priest if I had been raised in the Catholic faith, but I was raised a Baptist, so I had to talk directly go God about my personal dilemma of the heart--and to an eight year old, matters of the heart are the most serious things in the world. They supersede catching fireflies, playing baseball with buddies, chasing and teasing neighborhood girls with long pigtails and throwing rocks at crows. Yes, when a young man's heart is giving him trouble, nothing can help. Not even the consoling love of a saintly mother.
And I might as well tell you what my problem was and get it over with. I feel deeply in love and I mean deep, folks, with Donna Reed and June Cleaver or better known as Donna Reed and Barbara Billingsley. Donna Reed had her own show with co-stars, Carl Betz, who played a Alex, a pediatrician with an office at home; Jeff, Paul Peterson, the all-American teenage boy; Shelly Fabre, as Brenda, the neurotic older sister of Jeff. So made up the typical American family except I didn't care that much for Alex, Jeff, Patricia (the younger sister) or Fabre, I cared a lot about Donna. I mean I adored her every move and word. From her doing housework in a nice dress and wearing white heels, to her white pearls around her neck, was the a doll! And this secret love affair with Donna went on for years without anyone in my family being the wiser.
I would dream of Donna at night in my bed and I would be playing her husband, Alex, but I was no pediatrician. I was a private investigator and she took care of my every need. Oh, we didn't have any kids. I didn't want to share Donna with anyone. She was just that special. I loved how she easily and very gentile, solved the family's various problems from Jeff's torn jeans to Alex's lost golf clubs--she would do all of her housework and still have time to look great all the time and never perspired. Never. No great-looking lady like Donna ever perspired. That would be taboo and a problem for television censors. Oh, Donna and Alex slept in separate beds. What a sap the show's censors were, but that was the norm back then--morality was the number one objective for television programming.
And talk about a great cook! Donna could make leftover sausage taste like a treat. And even did dishes in a dress, heels, and beads. What a woman! I always wondered to myself if Alex really appreciated her for all he did for him and the family. I know that if she were my wife, she would be told of my love and appreciation all of the time.
Then just about the time that was getting comfortable with my affair with Donna Reed, guess who must show up, but June Cleaver, the very-attractive wife of Ward Cleaver, Hugh Beaumont, and their sons, Wally, Tony Dow and Beaver, Jerry Mathers. What a great family the Cleavers were. Dad, Ward, worked downtown somewhere in some office that was never revealed in the show and June was the typical, good-looking, respectful homemaker that most women in America dreamed of being--well-dressed, perfect pronunciation, etiquette, grace and perfect charm. All the time. Never did you see June or Donna for that matter dare to wear pants or slacks. Talk about an anarchy! There would have been riots in the streets if these "super women" of television had committed the taboo of wearing pants. No sir. Not in America.
And June, like Donna, was the real backbone of the Cleaver household. She called the shots behind the scenes while hubby, Ward, was the enforcer of discipline to Wally and Beaver. And that wasn't a problem of any size. There were NO drug or alcohol problems in those days. No gang-related robberies, handgun violence or vandalism. Crooks were even organized and out of the sight of the good American families like the Reeds and Cleavers. What a country the United States was in that day and time.
And now I know why Eddie Haskell, Ken Osmond, was always hanging around at the Cleavers. It was NOT to come over to visit Wally, it was to enjoy watching June do her housework. And Eddie, the neighborhood rogue, was very bold for his age in his famous trademark line, "That's a very nice dress, Mrs. Cleaver!" and Haskell meant every word of it. Did you ever watch his eyes twinkle like little stars in the sky when she would walk into the room? And Ward never suspected that his wife was giving Eddie Haskell some rather adult thoughts.
That was my dilemma. Donna or June? Who to pick for my wife? I wrestled with this problem for years and until the day that both The Donna Reed Show and Leave It To Beaver were sadly cancelled. I remember secretly crying about not being able to see my two favorite females in the world on the Philco black and white television ever again.
I was miserable, depressed, not interested in my studies or extra curricular activities at all. I was not socially-interactive due to the fact that Donna and June were now just memories to me. I also remember sitting in my room--daydreaming about what could have beeen if I had married Donna Reed or June Cleaver.
I carried around this psychological and social burden for years to come--even when I reached young adulthood. I thought I would never see Donna or June ever again in this life . . .
Until one fateful night, I was channel surfing and lo and behold, there she was . . .in her nice dress, high heels, and beads...I first thought I was seeing things.
Then I stood up and gave thanks to God . . .for inventing TVLand!
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To Emmett Kelly.