Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Slower and simpler times

The Captain and I were sitting around this morning talking about slower and simpler times when we were younger.  It was a different world that in retrospect, was so different it feels foreign or like a dream, as if it never happened.  But it did and it was a wonderful time to grow up.  Thinking of those days takes me back, feeling like a little girl again.

My fondest memories come from family getting together on Thursday nights for spaghetti and meatballs.  My aunt, uncle and cousins would come over without fail.  We didn't even think about doing anything else.  It is what was. So was the menu . . . it never changed.  Thursdays were special.  The family was never closer.

My nana (who lived with us) would start cooking in the morning and fill the house with the aroma of garlic bread and sheet pans of sicilian pizza cooking.  The greatest treat was helping her in the kitchen.  She and I started a tradition where we would make an extra sheet pan of garlic bread so we could "test" it throughout the day as we prepared for the Thursday night festivities.  I wish I could go back at least one more time to cook with my nana for Thursday night dinner. It has been decades since she died at a young age, but I still miss her like crazy and feel she was with me yesterday.

We always had fish on Friday . . . it was a tradition we never deviated from.  To the best of my recollection, it was always grouper, although prepared in different ways.  Living on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico left the fish markets with an abundance of affordable grouper . . . can't say that for today!

Trips to the fish market and the italian deli/meat market was always a treat. It was an atmosphere that I always loved . . . and I always went home with treats from the deli.  My favorite was olive salad!  All the old timers would linger and visit with their friends . . . it made me feel so grown up to be among them.  Why was I in such a hurry to grow up?

Sunday was a repeat of Thursday . . . it just started after noon time and we had all day to spend with our cousins.  Awesome times!

Sometimes I wonder if I would have had so many friends that I rode bikes around the neighborhood with if we had today's technology.  

I always loved having streamers on the handle bars . . . I thought they were so cool.  The sensation of the wind blowing in my face and the streamers riding the wind was such a simple pleasure as crazy as that sounds.  Little things made me happy.  I loved the little bell that made the coolest sound . . . it was my way of saying hello to friends as I passed by their house.

There was a simple joy that had more than one benefit.  I loved roaming the woods across the ditch in the neighborhood that led to a drive in theater that was wide open and you could walk right in.  

First of all, the grounds of the drive in were like a treasure hunt.  We would take pouches so we could fill them with the coins found on the ground.  It is amazing how people would drop their coins coming back from the concession stand and not bother trying to find them in the dark.  You would think that they would learn to put their money away before leaving the concession stand! My piggy bank was always full :)

The woods we had to walk through to get to the drive in had wild blackberry bushes always loaded with the sweetest and juiciest blackberries I have ever tasted.  After loading up with those delicious blackberries, we would take them to my next door neighbor Dot, who was a southern belle and the best country cook ever.  I still make many of the muffins, pound cakes, biscuits and cookies she taught me how to make.  

Anyway, she made us all a blackberry cobbler to take home to our families.  She and her husband were a childless couple who adopted the neighborhood kids as their own and spend a lot of time with us.  We kids loved her and her little bird Perry, who was named after her hero Perry Como.  She and my nana were great friends and I loved when we went to visit with her, just the three of us. They made me feel like I was all grown up like I was one of them.  OMG I miss those special ladies!!

My nana taught me how to play all kinds of card games and we spent lots of time playing cards.  My brother joined us when he was old enough to learn how to play.  Those were special times doing the simplest thing like playing cards!

Times were so different and simple . . . no one was in a hurry.  As a child I spent so much time with adults who were not in a hurry to do anything or go anywhere.  They were happy just being home enjoying each other's company. The kids went from house to house visiting our friends, listening to music and playing board games . . . someone's mom was always home, before the days of most women working away from home, dedicating their time to their children and their friends. 

It was such a special time and we didn't even know it.  Just writing this post brought tears to my eyes . . . they are bittersweet tears of beautiful memories.

Do you have great memories of these simpler times?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mork and Mindy

It was one of my favorite sitcoms from back in the 70's and 80's.  Although it was on the air for only four seasons, didn't it seem like it was on forever, like an old friend?  

Mork and Mindy was one of those memorable and unique sitcoms that ran along the edge of bizarre.  The world was introduced to the mad comedic genius of Robin Williams, who drove the writers crazy with his improvisational whims that he just threw in as it was being filmed.  They ultimately had to leave gaps in the scripts, giving Robin the artistic freedom to put in his unique touch.  Fans of the show responded favorably, making it one of the most successful sitcoms in it's first season.

The sitcom started as a spoof of the 60's sitcom, My Favorite Martian, in the form of a dream Richie Cunningham of Happy Days had.  Robin Williams' character Mork was so popular with the viewers that the powers that be had to spin it off into a sitcom all to itself.

Mork arrives on earth in an egg-shaped space-craft with the intent of the Orkans to study human behavior.  However, the real intent was to get Mork off the planet of Ork, where humor was not allowed.  Imagine that . . . Mork must have drove them mad!

The sitcom centered around Mork trying to understand American culture while Mindy (Pam Dawber) attempts to assist him with adjusting to life on Earth.  A feature of each episode came at the end of the show in the form of a summary, when Mork reports back to Orson, his superior from Ork, on what he has learned about Earth.  This feature gave Robin the chance to throw in his outrageously comical commentary on social norms of the times.

While the first season was wildly popular, the ratings began to slip in the second season when attempts were made to change what didn't need fixing. Between the changes and constant changes to the time slot, the series never regained the popularity of the first season.  The biggest mistake of the second season was the attempt to link Mork and Mindy romantically.

By the fourth season, despite the decline of the sitcom, the network wanted to give it another chance, hoping to capture the magic once again since Robin Williams remained hilarious as Mork.

The changes that came with the fourth season were personally an insult to my intelligence.  The addition of Jonathan Winters, along with Robin Williams, could have been a genius move if not for the unbelievably lame storyline.

Mork and Mindy got married.  Mork laid an egg that grew larger and larger, hatching a full grown adult, Jonathan Winters, as their son.  The explanation was that Orkans aged in reverse from humans.  Although I always loved Jonathan Winters, I was not amused with him talking like a baby.

As a huge fan of the show, I wanted it to succeed and continue on since I loved the characters, but it died a dismal death of awful ratings that ended at #60. Seems like I was not the only one whose intelligence was insulted.  Too bad they couldn't have come up with a better storyline.

Mork and Mindy was cancelled after four seasons and 95 episodes.  

I still hear the greeting Mork often used, na-nu na-nu . . . the saying is a piece of pop culture history in itself.

Robin Williams went on to super stardom . . .

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Annette Funicello . . . a role model for a generation

Annette was one of the role models of my generation (in my opinion), representing the innocent times of the 1950's and ushered us into the changing times of the 1960's as the queen of the beach party movies, accompanied by Frankie Avalon who was the king.

I'm so very sad for the children of the following generations who have barely had wholesome role models to look up to. The one thing I am grateful for growing up in the times I did was the fact that we could actually be children . . . most of us were innocent to awful realities of life that are now prominently depicted on television.

She began her professional career at the age of twelve, rising to prominence as one of the most popular "Mouseketeers" on the original Mickey Mouse Club.

On April 8, 2013, Annette Funicello died at the age of 70, from complications due to multiple sclerosis.

Since her death, I have wanted to write this post, but at the time I did not have the words to convey my sadness at her passing. What really made me sad is that at the end of 2013, when you hear of those famous people who passed on during that year, Annette was barely mentioned. Perhaps my generation is being forgotten as new generations arise and so will our role models, as it appears Annette has.

Commenting on her death, Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said,

"Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mouseketeer, and a true Disney Legend. She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney's brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent. Annette was well known for being as beautiful inside as she was on the outside, and she faced her physical challenges with dignity, bravery and grace. All of us at Disney join with family, friends, and fans around the world in celebrating her extraordinary life."

"Annette took dancing and music lessons as a child in order to overcome shyness. In 1955, the 12-year-old was discovered by Walt Disney when she performed as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake at a dance recital at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank, California. Disney cast her as one of the original "Mouseketeers". She was the last to be selected, and one of the few cast-members to be personally selected by Walt Disney himself. She proved to be very popular and by the end of the first season of The Mickey Mouse Club, she was receiving 6,000 letters a month, according to her Disney Legends biography." Source: Wikipedia

Take a walk down memory lane with these awesome videos and celebrate Annette's life along with me.


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