By Wayne Brown
“That’s a Beaver Cleaver house”, I think to myself as I drive along the streets and see that special house that seems to match all the characteristics of the one that housed the Cleaver family in the television series, “Leave It To Beaver”. In some ways, I guess you could say that I was indelibly marked by that television series of the late 50’s early 60’s era, so much so that I dreamed of living in a house just like theirs.
The house I refer to was really the Cleavers second home in the series and it was located at 211 Pine Street, Mayfield, Somewhere, USA. It was complete with two stories, roof dormers, an attached garage, and a wood shingle roof. Back in those days, I was a bit naïve to say the least and it seemed to me that the Cleavers were living the perfect life in the perfect home. Now, years later, I still catch myself settling down on the sofa to watch reruns of the series and to relive those dreams of having my own room in the Cleaver household.
Of course, Wally and “The Beav” had the perfect mother. She was always dressed like she was on her way to church in those flowing pastel dresses and high heel shoes. What boy of the day did not take note of how special it was that she made mash potatoes every single day for her family and served it formally in the dining room every night. She was a compassionate woman who constantly wondered “what was wrong with the Beaver”.
Back home in my life, mom only served mash potatoes on Sunday and she didn’t wear heels. The show quickly brought out the inadequacies that I was suffering on a daily basis. I’m pretty sure June Cleaver spent most of her day planning a well-balance dinner meal for her family replete with all the required food groups balanced in perfect harmony. That’s what you get when you cook in high-heels, I’m pretty sure.
“Oh June, Oh June, I’m home,” Ward Cleaver, would announce as he came through the front door of the Cleaver home, sounding more like a sea captain returning from a long sea adventure that a local Mayfield businessman. Those were the magic words for suddenly June would put down the bowl of potatoes she was mashing for dinner and hurry to the door giddy with glee at his arrival.
Ward was an insurance man (I suspected), who wore a suit and tie every day. In fact, I think Ward might have slept in a suit and tie. He ate dinner in the outfit every night. About the only time I didn’t see Ward in his formal attire was one of those rare episodes that had him spending Saturday morning drinking milk with the boys. Between Ward in his suit and June in her high-heels, I was beginning to wonder where my parents’ sense of fashion had run off the road. Since the Cleavers were a typical family, I was beginning to realize that I was living a very untypical existence and not getting mash potatoes too often either. No wonder I wanted to move in with the Cleavers.
Wally and Beaver had a gaggle of friends to keep them entertained. Eddie Haskell was one of Wally’s pals. He was the one guy I was pretty sure would either end up in jail or would be the primary reason why, Lumpy (Clarence Rutherford), would do time behind bars. I think everybody that watched the show kind of wanted a shot at Eddie just to latch up his smart mouth. On the other hand, Eddie could do some cool talking’ especially when he used his catch phrase, “Hey, Sam”, I would find myself wishing that I could come up with something to say that included “Hey, Sam”. It always sounded better coming from Eddie than me…he made it sound real.
Eddie was two-faced; the consummate expert when he was talking trash to Wally and the Beav and very much the transparent sweet-talker when he encountered Mrs. Cleaver. Eddie knew how to kiss it up. Lumpy (Clarence Rutherford) was also Wally’s running buddy. Lump always seemed to be on the short end of the stick, especially with his daddy. Beaver was hanging’ with Larry, Whitey, and Gilbert. Larry was always eating; Whitey had a funny name that seemed totally out of touch with political correctness, and Gilbert knew something about everything. I wanted friends like these and attributed my lack of them to the fact that my mother was not feeding me enough mash potatoes. I needed more mash potatoes and a two-story house with wood shingles.
Another reason that living with the Cleavers appealed to me was Beaver’s teacher, Mrs. Landers. She was a stone fox with that dark hair, creamy complexion, and dimples in her cheeks. She could have taught me everything about nothing. I could have really excelled in school if Mrs. Landers had been my teacher. Until I saw her, my educational experience had taught me that a teacher had to reach middle age before it was possible to be licensed to teach. Mrs. Landers gave me hope that one day I would walk into my classroom to find some hot babe holding the multiplication tables and wanting to know how many verbs that I could conjugate. Beaver’s teacher, Mrs. Landers, was the reason I stayed in school and avoided going to prison at an early age. There was not doubt in my mind that she got her share of mash potatoes as a kid.
After I grew up and got serious about buying a home of my own, I still held on to the dream of living in a house that looked like the Cleaver place. Finally, after owning a couple of houses, I got mine. Well, not quite, but close. It did not have two stories but it did have a wood shingle roof that made it look a little like a “Cleaver house” when you passed by on the street. Unfortunately, that house would burst my bubble and shatter my dreams about the tranquility of existing under the same roof with the Cleavers.
My insurance agent pointed out that my rates were going to be high because I had a wood shingle, “shake” roof on the house. He said that one spark landing on that roof could cause the whole place to go up in flames. Who knew? You would have thought that ol’ Gus, the fireman, who Beaver use to visit at the Mayfield fire station would have warned Beav and me about the dangers of wood shingles. What good was fireman who could not identify a firetrap when he saw it. I was beginning to question whether Gus was a real fireman or not.
As the years have passed, I have finally lost my lust for living with the Cleavers. I have spent my life in single-story houses and only owned one with a wood shingle roof (Thanks, Gus!). I don’t lust for mash potatoes anymore either nor do I long to sit in the living room with mom in her heels and dad in his tie. I was lucky that I discovered what a normal ordinary life is really like before my obsessions became too overpowering. I guess buying that firetrap with the wood shingle roof was what it took to open my eyes to the real world and the fact that potatoes can be served a number of different ways none of which require the wearing of high heels or a tie. But, for all that, I still cannot help myself as I drive down the street still looking for that “Leave It To Beaver House” where I would have gladly lived with the Cleavers.
©Copyright WBrown2010. All Rights Reserved.
8 April 2010