Sunday, September 21, 2014

Million Dollar Movies, Priceless Moments

Some of us are old enough to remember television on three network channels only...and maybe that fourth local channel that offered reruns, if you could twist your antennae just right and the wind wasn't blowing too hard. You know...the days when the children were the remote? And there was one television in the house and it might have been in a cabinet as big as your sofa?

Dad and mom had the most amazing television set. And boy was it ever a set. It was a long chest-like cabinet, with the television screen in the middle, and big speakers on either side of it. The fascinating part, though, was that the top of both speakers lifted, and revealed a turntable on one side and a tape player on the other side. Opening up those special cases was akin to opening Fort Knox. 

Every time mom wanted to move the furniture, the big question was, "Where will we put the TV?" You see, it had to hook up externally to the antennae that was outside the window, via a thin black cord that was the equivalent of the TV's umbilical cord. That TV could only go so far from the window. Otherwise, it really was just another big piece of furniture.

It's so funny to think back now to how we all circled around that square screen, as if it were the campfire. However, none of us could sit directly in front of the screen if dad was home, as our little heads would block his view. Of course, we could not talk either. We sat between him and the speakers and we couldn't - or didn't - dare override the important sound emitting from those side speakers that accompanied the grainy - and sometimes still black and white - picture off our  choice de jour from our four channels.

So, our little semi-circle on the floor each night was our "front seat" to the wide world of sports, olympics that occurred every four years, news that came on twice a day for 30 minutes, Mash, Sanford & Son, All in the Family, The Waltons, The Carol Burnett Show, and the crowning moment of any day, The Tonight Show with the inimitable Johnny Carson. {I was only old enough to stay up late enough to watch this when I entered high school.} As persnickety as all the TV watching rules were, we did do a lot of laughing over simple sitcoms and comic geniuses.

Afternoons of TV were much more relaxed. They usually included my brother and I settling in to our favorite set of reruns - Gilligan's Island, I Dream of Jeannie, Leave it to Beaver, The Addams Family, The Monsters, with maybe some Flintstones thrown in there somewhere. And oh, the Scooby Doo marathons that a Saturday morning offered! So many simple moments together on that oval rug that substituted for the highway of our MatchBox cars during antennae outages or program delays - or the dreaded news bulletin interruption.

Life was simple. Four channels simple. Amazingly, we got all we needed to off of those four channels. And, we didn't even get to watch everything they offered! Soap was off limits. I think Eight is Enough was also off the list. And we missed all of the Wonderful World of Disney broadcasts since we went to church every Sunday night. There are still, to this day, Disney classics I haven't seen. {Shudder.} ;-)

One of the best memories of all of the TV elements, though, is my memory of the daily movie. Every afternoon at 3 PM, the local CBS channel would run the MILLION DOLLAR MOVIE. It had such a hokey graphic. A case, shaped to hold a roll of movie film, decked out and completely covered in gold rhinestones, with simple black all caps lettering on it saying MILLION DOLLAR MOVIE. But, the fun part was that it was on a little turntable and it would slowly spin, as if that made the movie more compelling.

Mom and I watched so many movies together. She was home until my brother started kindergarten, and then she was home in the summer. It would be a warm sunny afternoon, and she would sit on the couch folding laundry, and I would sit at her feet, and we would sing with Elvis, laugh with Bob Hope, and cry with Doris Day. It was a quiet time of the day. The movie would be over by 5, and dinner would be started during the commercials toward the end. And in those pre-dusk shadowy afternoons, movie magic happened. Life paused. Aside from the laundry, the to-do lists were set aside. Mom and I would sit there and watch the movies, happy to be together, happy to be entertained, happy to see the showcase of the million dollar movie.

I have always loved movies. Seeing a good movie throughout my life has always been a joy. Steve and I had many dates to campus movies. We still love to go today. Finding a new classic, a new favorite, is like finding a true treasure. I think it goes back to those afternoons with my mom. 

Sometimes in the absence of clothes clamoring to be folded, I could curl up on the couch next to her, settling into the soft crook of her padded arm. She was a good pillow. She was a good movie buddy. She is - and always has been - my great friend. While I have my memories of the million dollar movies, I am blessed today to still have my movie buddy, and our friendship is the real movie magic.

Reel Favorites ~ Timeless Movies I Love ~ 2009


  1. Oh, wow, Penny, you really took me back in time! Your descriptions are so vivid! We had such a similar experience but only 2 channels came in on our antennae. We watched a lot of the same shows you did, too. I was allowed to watch Soaps, but my dad made me turn off the TV the night Gloria had her baby on All in the Family. If he only knew what I'd seen in the daytime on soaps?! We still use an antennae at our house though with more channels and better reception. Of course, we supplement with a lot of on-line viewing. Your page is great! You captured so many favorites and I like how you wrapped your title.

  2. You really captured a moment in time, Penny. I gave many similar fond memories. I also love how you've used this paper. I have a few varieties in my stash, I may need to lift the design.

  3. Gorgeous LO, I am going to scraplift this one! I have a Movies scrapbook and this is going in it. Love everything about it! I appreciate the play on words, love your layers and love your label paper. Thx for sharing.