Today is November 30th. It’s funny how times flies when you are not having fun. Any day spent in a US government office is dismal at best, but there are papers to be filed, receipts to be received and endless flat screen TV’s to be watched while waiting for your number to appear. I was at Social Security Administration Office this afternoon turning in my Dad’s last check and ordering a new card for myself, which I lost in college. It’s never too late to redeem one’s self to the government. Honestly, no one has asked to see the card in the last twenty years, but I figured while I was there…
Two and one half hours I spent in this bureaucratic hellhole watching an endless loop of Social Security sponsored promo in which George Takei and Patty Duke advocated the “Boldly Go” campaign to use online services. They used an old Star Trek set and the actors were both curiously dressed in Starship Enterprise costumes. What Patty Duke had to offer this scenario is anyone’s guess. I surmise that Baby boomers would recognize her from “The Patty Duke Show.” I watched that show although was comforted in the fact it was in syndication at the time. Whew. Am I that old?
I watched endless television when I was a child. The best babysitter in the world was probably my mother’s thinking. It started as soon as I sat up and was able to stay seated in one position in the famous red “jumping chair” my parents used for me and all of my siblings.
Like some surreal photo album, my childhood could be documented by what was programmed in TV Guide. I know I started watching “Romper Room” as a tot. Miss Louise was my favorite especially when the “Magic Mirror” dazzled the viewer into some sort of submission as she called out the names of children in “Televisionland.” I must have sat through years of that show moving vertically not horizontally in that chair waiting for my name to be called.
Cartoons were always welcomed. Who could forget “Winky Dink and You” and the plastic “magic drawing screen” you had to adhere to the TV to draw with “Winky Dink. “ Somehow I think my older sister didn’t wait for that instruction because I do remember pen marks on the Console TV. I, of course, was stuck in the jumping chair and couldn’t be blamed for that misadventure.
Besides, Winky Dink, most days were spent with a cast of characters. “Deputy Dog”, “Underdog”, “Rocky and Bullwinkle” and of course the endless loops of “The Little Rascals.” You never noticed the deleted episodes until the “Cabin Fever” series came out. No, as a child, you were subjected to bad films of Our Gang comedies that occasionally used to burn right on camera until WPIX would switch to either a commercial or a “Technical Difficulty” caption. As a kid, you didn’t mind. You ate a snack or went to the bathroom until the loop reappeared.
The daytime reruns were always watched too. “The Munster’s”, “Flipper”, “Daktari”, “I Dream of Jeannie”, “Beverly Hillbillies”, “My Mother the Car” rounded out a full rainy day of most of my childhood. My sister liked “The Patty Duke Show” so I was subjected to those ‘incredible cousins”, “who walked alike, talked alike, you could lose your mind.” No doubt with so much TV and radiation. Never liked “Star Trek.” Sorry Mr. Takei.
On sunny days we were shooed out the door with the nondescript instructions "to go play.” It might as well have been the “Boldly Go” command. I think from age 5 through age 11, my mother had no idea where I was, what I was doing or with whom I was doing what with. No supervision, no lunch breaks, just urban air, pure imagination and girlish energy. What I wouldn’t give for one ounce of that today and to not worry about Social Security.
As I think ahead to summer activities for next year, I am always asked by my three “What kind of camp did you go to Mommy?” I always would answer “F-Troop.” No, it wasn’t Girl Scouts, but it did involve some lazy summer afternoon planning and TV Guide reading. I would love to just shoo them out the door and say “Boldly Go. ” But no one does that today unless they mean "online." I am old, but now with a new Social Security Card in the mail.