Thursday, October 30, 2014

Words That Make My Heart Pound - Eat Chocolate

I am an avid, daily follower of current events, but recently the news has been so depressing I am considering a hiatus from the daily habit. School shootings, deathly epidemics, war, forest fires and volcanic eruptions result in one negative story after another.

Even the elections are a barrage of negative ads assaulting the senses from all directions. A lot of noise, no substance.

Then one evening recently, perusing the news while ostensibly watching TV, which is more like watching a series of ads punctuated by three or four minutes of a show, a headline caught my eye.

“To Improve a Memory, Consider Chocolate”

Chocolate is one of my all time favorite things in the world, although I do not indulge in the decadence nearly enough.

To summarize a recent scientific study, ingredients in chocolate - antioxidants called cocoa flavanols - were found to increase memory in older adults. The study involved men and women aged 50-69. The group performed at a level equated with people two to three decades younger. The increased memory function occurred following three months drinking a cocoa flavanols mixture.

A word of caution – this does not mean one can sit back and eat candy bars all day and all night. The article makes it pretty clear that processed chocolate, especially milk chocolate, has this wonderful ingredient squeezed out of the final product, usually a candy bar.

The bad news (if there is such a thing as bad news when it comes to consuming chocolate) is that a person would have to eat the equivalent of seven – 7 – dark chocolate bars every day to ingest enough flavanols to be effective, about 300 grams.

It sounds like a tough job, and as much as I would love to do it, I know my body would at some point rebel.

So what are the alternatives?

There are other foods containing flavanols, but in lesser amounts, including tea, apples, and red wine.

One hypothesis is that an individual can reduce the amount of chocolate eaten on a regular basis and memory will improve over a longer period of time. Scientists have not done follow-up studies to know whether or not this theory works, or figured out the best way for people to take advantage of cocoa flavanols.

They will. And, if any scientist is reading this, I am willing to volunteer for follow-up studies.

But please do not place me in the control group.

Give me the chocolate.

If I am going to eat chocolate, which will inevitably come along with fat, sugar and calories, it may as well be for a worthwhile cause.

My body for a dark chocolate bar. Or two. Or three. Every day.

A sacrifice for science, but someone has to do it.


FYI -
Here are links to two articles describing the study and the results:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Visiting the Crescent City Post-Katrina

I spent a few days touring the Crescent City - New Orleans - exploring on my own while hub spent days walking the corridors of the city's convention center.

New Orleans received lots of publicity a few years ago not conducive to attracting tourists. But things change. The French Quarter, the heart of the old city and not flooded during Katrina, remains architecturally intact. The surrounding city is booming.

There are two reasons for the city's renaissance, according to local sources.

New Orleans (along with the state of Louisiana) has a long history of corruption. A few years ago the city bums were booted out - the former Mayor kicked all the way to jail - and positive things began to happen. New buildings, businesses moving in, government projects revitalizing the city.

Katrina devastated the area in 2005. One guide told me if it were not for the importance of the maritime industry, the city would have declined permanently. New Orleans is the focal point for the Mississippi River shipping industry and one of the busiest ports in the world.

Some highlights of my trip -

Let me begin with a happening in the sky.

Recognize this?
An airline meal!
I did not think they existed anymore. 
But they do - in first class.
Hub and I were upgraded from cattle class to first class on the flight to New Orleans 
(we returned home cattle class).

Pictured below is a sign I never encountered before,
(another unique travel first)
posted on the back of the taxi driver's seat.
It is hard to read, so here is the important section:
"...Any kind of sexual Activity is strictly prohibited. Please have some respect for the driver. This isn't your mom's couch. If u do not abide by the rules, the driver has the right to kick u out.
Thank you!!!"
And welcome to New Orleans...

Halloween is big in New Orleans. Houses are elaborately decorated.


Sometimes decisions are difficult to make. Especially real estate decisions.
Here is the same apartment. 
The interested party must decide whether to rent the place 
haunted or not haunted.
The choice is yours...


The finishing touch on your Halloween costume -

And of course a trip to New Orleans must include - besides the food -
The Music
Street bands in the French Quarter.

I did more than take pictures. 
I attended a cooking class, a kayaking trip along the bayous 
and a bike tour around the city.
I spent two hours in a dentist's chair.
New Orleans is a wonderfully flat expanse, 
so I spent a lot of time walking...and walking...and walking.
I bought a mask for Halloween.
And did I mention the food?
I ate a lot of food, most of it very good 
Creole and Cajun dishes, the local cuisines.
(One breakfast burrito, barely consumable, wins the prize for worst food.
 It ended up in the trash. Enjoyed an early lunch that day.)

And suddenly it was time to return home...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Best of Boomers on Living, Making New Friends, and Little-known Current Events

As Joseph Campbell once said, “People say that what we're all seeking is the meaning of life. I think that what we're really seeking is the experience of being alive.”  This week Kathy Gottberg on her blog SMART Living 365 asks and explores the question, “When was the last time you felt passionately alive?”  


Tom Sightings takes a look at The 1.7 Percent Solution. What's the 1.7 percent solution? You'll know in January, if you're on Social Security, when you find out how much you're getting next year in benefits.

While you may be completely sick of hearing bad news, Amy Blitchok from Modern Senior thinks there is one more police shooting that didn’t make national news, but deserves your attention. The result was the death of a 93-year-old woman in Hearne, TXVisit Modern Senior to find out what happened and why everything just doesn’t quite add up.


On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about a survey that found 42 percent of Americans probably won’t review a health insurance plan’s details before signing up. If consumers don’t compare plans, they may need to change doctors, pay more for fewer services, or have other problems. Comparing plans is important with open enrollment for Affordable Care Act starting in November and Medicare’s open enrollment for prescription drug plans (Part D) and Medicare Advantage plans running through Dec. 7.

Since moving to southern Colorado four months ago, Laura Lee aka the Midlife Crisis Queen has been trying to make new friends. Here's a post about her struggles to make new connectionsin a small town...

Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting spends a lot of time on the road exploring parts previously unknown, revisiting favorite haunts, and visiting friends and family scattered throughout the country. She often gets queries wondering why she is a regular road warrior. Read The Top Ten Reasons I Travel for her answers.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Top Ten Reasons I Travel

Hub and I travel. There are those who prefer staying close to home, and look quizzically at us as we regale them with our latest escapades.

"Why?" they ask.

Here is my answer (more accurately my ten answers) to that question.

10. Cleaning the house gets boring and tiresome. Leaving for a few days or longer delays the process. The house gets dusty, but everything else remains in place. The dirty stuff patiently waits until I return, and the clean parts remain clean longer.

9. I like spending some time in warm weather during cold winters.

8. When opportunity knocks hub and I now often say, "Sure, why not..." when we used to say, "Not sure we can afford it....or cannot take off work...or cannot miss whatever else is going on."

7. Business travel can be exhausting, especially for older folks (I am talking specifically about hub, still working and traveling). I, however, no longer go to an office every morning, and can tag along and play. A very good deal (for me). I just spent several days exploring New Orleans while hub remained cloistered in a convention center. More about my adventures in future posts...

6. I want to view with my own eyes places seen in pictures and read about in books.

5. When our family business, Babysitters R Us, gets a call, we aim to please and usually say yes. Can't say no to the grandkids (most of the time) - they all live out of town. But in case anyone is looking for ideas for a business seeking extra income in retirement, note that payment is hugs and kisses in lieu of cash.

4. I like a challenge, and it is an interesting one finding cheap and reasonably priced accommodations when the traveling bug takes hold. Home exchanges, visiting family and friends, off-season specials and last minute deals are researched. All suggestions welcomed!

3. I like exploring new places, meeting new people and trying new foods.

2. I am following in my parents' footsteps. They traveled after retirement, and Dad would always say, "We are spending your inheritance." And they had a good time. As a good daughter, I am following their example.

1. Traveling is a lot of fun!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One Day in This Traveler's Life on the Road

Picture this:

The scene is a ladies room in a very nice restaurant near the upscale Garden District in the city of New Orleans. A woman sits on the floor of the ladies room, the door of her cubicle partially open, her head close to but not in the throne (sounds much better than toilet). She is sweating, pale, apparently in discomfort, feeling bad all over.

No one enters to disturb or observe the woman's unique position.

A few minutes later a man knocks on the door, "You alright?"

"I'm OK."

A couple of minutes later the door opens, and a waitress and my hub peer inside. I look at him with bleary eyes and murmur, "Call a cab. I have to go back to the room."

And so ended our elegant lunch before it really began.

Several hours earlier:

A twinge of a toothache a couple of days before quickly became a throbbing pain on one side of my jaw. Two extra-strength anythings barely took the edge off. I got little sleep.

Early in the morning hub leaves for a breakfast meeting - we are in this unique city because he has a convention. While he works, my plan is to play.

Realizing I cannot continue normally with the pain, I fire up my iPad and seek dental help. Fast.

Kudos to the internet site Yelp! A dental clinic contains dozens of positive Yelp reviews. It is dicey seeking medical help out of town, but my tooth demands immediate attention.

The dental clinic offered an appointment at 9:00 a.m. and one late in the afternoon. I grabbed the morning hour and texted hub. He arrived back at the hotel in time to accompany me.

We took a cab the four miles to the clinic. Flying into the city and staying in a hotel downtown, our transportation options are limited to one free means of transport (walking), public transportation (reasonably priced) and taxis, a pricey choice, but I was in no condition and did not have enough time to seek alternatives.

The dentist turned out to be a kindly gentleman/grandpa type. He plans on retiring at the end of the year following 50 years fixing people's teeth. I felt confident he knew what he was doing.

I thought the agony was in an upper tooth. I was wrong; the problem tooth was a bottom one. The dentist did some prodding and fixing and prescribed an antibiotic and pain killer. He cautioned I might eventually need a root canal, but took a conservative stance - if my tooth was not permanently fixed, it would be in good enough condition long enough to enjoy this Southern city and get home.

We left the office and decided to walk, touring neighborhoods, stopping for lunch, taking our time.

First stop was the drugstore to fill my prescription. They were out of the pain killer. The pharmacist made a couple of phone calls. Another pharmacy a mile away stocked both drugs.

We walked to the second pharmacy, then continued on, strolling at a leisurely pace another mile to a restaurant the dentist recommended, a one-hundred-year-old establishment favored by locals and renowned for their barbecued shrimp.

We arrived, got seated, perused the menu, and ordered. We chatted with our waiter.

The soup arrived, a small cup of seafood gumbo, and I tasted a couple of spoonfuls. It was delicious.

Suddenly I started to sweat, feel nauseous and lightheaded. I sat still for a couple of minutes, then quickly left the table and (hopefully) inconspicuously dashed to the ladies room.

Fast forward a few hours:

I sit in our hotel room, relaxing with my coffee. Hours earlier the cab delivered us to our temporary home, and within minutes - seconds actually after entering the room - I fell asleep. Awaking a couple of hours later, I felt better. Hub and I walked to a nearby restaurant for a late lunch.

Hub went on to a business meeting and dinner.

Foregoing the business dinner (translation: we don't pay out of our own pocket) at one of the most highly rated restaurants in the French Quarter (all those Yelp reviewers can't be wrong!) for a good night's rest, I look forward to a day of sightseeing tomorrow.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Surrendering to A Favorite American Pastime


 Shopping.

Twice.

People have purchased needed goods and services for thousands of years. American society has elevated shopping to the status of supreme leisure time activity. It is one of our most dubious practices, peculiarities, and cultural exports.

I recently made a short visit to my old hometown – not where I grew up, but where I lived for over thirty years. The area is growing, with the most noticeable change the increasing number of stores, restaurants, and other businesses cropping up everywhere, along with an increase in traffic. The county has not built major roads or widened current ones in decades. The only new roads are within housing developments and shopping centers. And a lot of paving is done creating parking lots.

My girlfriend and I spent a couple of hours in that time-honored pastime we love to hate – shopping. Not interested in traipsing through malls, we limited our outing to a favorite store – Chico’s.

Chico’s offers clothes that fit our boomer bodies. The store often has sale and clearance racks, and – most important of all –comfortable outfits with elastic waistbands and/or stretch material. We both walked out with a bag of new, comfy fitting garments.

Fast forward a couple of days and hub and I go luggage shopping. The handle on one old piece cannot be raised. The wheels on a second no longer roll, and a zipper on an outer pocket is broken. Both suitcases are shredding. And they are heavy. Airlines often weigh bags now, and the heavier the bag the fewer items can be stuffed inside.

A couple of department stores advertised sales, so we decided it was time to buy.

We drove to the mall and entered the alluring world of a three-story department store. It happened to be Macy’s. We rode the escalator to the third floor, home of the luggage section, and emerged into a winter wonderland.

Christmas arrives earlier every year in the retail world, but most stores in my neighborhood still display pumpkins, scarecrows, hay bales, and other fall items.

Walking off the escalator, hub and I looked at each other. We could not remember the last time we were in a department store. The mountains of merchandise, the variety of products, the glittery holiday decorations, were all overwhelming.


Locating luggage, we slowly made our way along the displays. There were too many choices. Soft side, duffle or hard side? Color? Sizes? Number of pockets inside? Outside?

We found three matching pieces in an odd blue color on sale, the last of a particular brand and style. We never buy black bags because they are too hard to identify coming off airline conveyor belts, or mixed with a collection thrown together on group trips.

No employee was available to assist us in luggage, so a sales clerk from another department checked us out.

We rolled our suitcases to the car and drove home.

At home we began tearing off sales tags, and immediately realized a security clasp had not been removed from one of the bags, the kind that, if attempting to remove, releases ink and an ugly mess. Or so we were told.

We drove twenty miles back to the mall and found the salesperson that checked us out. She apologized profusely, removed the tag, and we returned home.

Again.

Enough shopping for a while. We will not visit a mall again for a long time.

Hopefully.

A postscript…Women might be from Venus but men inhabit an alternate universe. Proofreading this article, hub looked at me and said, “Holiday decorations? Really? I didn’t notice.” 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Trump May Attempt to Triumph Once Again

The Donald - Donald Trump
Donald Trump is a real-life character we love to watch, talk about, and relish hearing about, his escapades fodder for venues ranging from the staid Wall Street Journal to People magazine and late night talk shows.

Brazen, outspoken, a New Yorker born and bred, uber-wealthy, with serial wives, bad hair, a TV show, and real estate holdings around the country, the Trump name garners a wide variety of reactions. Some people envy him, others despise him, and quite a few believe he is more interested in self-aggrandizement and seeing his name and face in the news, on buildings, golf courses, and even stalls, than anything else.

Whatever Trump’s motives, the man makes a statement and demands attention.

Recently he swooped into the gambling mecca of Atlantic City, announcing the possibility that he could, if he decided to, save the city from a downward spiral into decay, obsolescence, poverty, and crime.

As the proud owner of three Atlantic City casinos, Trump’s name appeared large in lights on the marquee of three casinos – the Trump Plaza, the Trump Taj Mahal, and the Trump Marina, initially christened in typical Trump modesty Trump’s Castle – beginning in 1984.


Landry’s purchased the Trump Marina in 2011 (now the Golden Nugget). The Trump Plaza closed in September 2014, a decaying shell of a once glitzy gambling hotel. The Trump Taj Mahal pursued bankruptcy one week later, threatening to close in November unless employees agree to salary concessions, the state offers tax relief, and Carl Icahn (owner of much of Taj’s debt) provides an infusion of cash.

The Donald asserts Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. has not lived up to their management contract, allowing the hotels to decay. Although the company contains the Trump name, The Donald currently owns just 9% of the business.

The irony is current management is following in The Donald’s footsteps, raking in profits and neglecting to plough money back into the properties.

During Trump’s tenure as major shareholder of Trump Entertainment Resorts, the hotels underwent bankruptcies in 1991, 1992, 2004, and 2009, at which point Trump departed Atlantic City.

Following recent negative publicity concerning the closing of the remaining Trump-named properties, he demanded the Trump name be removed from the hotels.
 
The Trump name is removed from the Trump Plaza after the hotel closed. 
A couple of days following the disheartening news of Taj’s impending doom, when all seemed hopeless, an object appeared in the sky above the sand and waters of Atlantic City, the machine’s loud motor and whirling rotors circling the city, focusing everyone’s eyes heavenward.

It was not a bird, nor a jet plane, but almost a Superman come to rescue the metropolis.

A helicopter hovered over the city, eventually alighting on the Taj roof. It belonged to a famous person, a celebrity and businessman well known in the Monopoly city. No one confirmed Trump himself deplaned, but the purpose of the ostentatious arrival of his aircraft seemed obvious.

The Donald now declares himself savior of the gambling city by the sea – should he choose to accept the assignment.

He may buy the two Trumps and resurrect them.

He wants to save Atlantic City, salvage jobs, and bring back visitors.

Or maybe he just likes the publicity.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Our Airbnb Experience


Scanning the news recently a titled piece mentioned airbnb. I immediately clicked on it, eager to read what the writer had to say. The article was not complimentary. Airbnb is a competitor of this woman’s traditional Bed & Breakfast establishment.

We have been airbnb hosts since June of this year.

The author believes airbnb cut into her sales. Airbnb is cheaper than most B&B’s and upscale hotels, although less expensive motels can be found in many areas.

Airbnb is an internet-based list of lodgings located around the world. Owners register their property, listing amenities, location information (distance from major tourist sites, stores, etc.), post pictures, and of course include price. Some people rent a room in their home. Others rent apartments or second homes owned, or guest cottages on their property.

Prices range from inexpensive to rather pricey. Accommodations can be anything from a rustic cabin in the woods to luxury digs at popular beach resorts to apartments in desirable cities like New York, Paris, and London.

We posted our apartment near Atlantic City. Taxes keep rising and maintenance costs are never-ending. Earning a few dollars when the place is vacant seemed a good way to subsidize costs. We do not rent full time because family members use the place throughout the summer and occasionally other times of the year. We blocked out times the apartment is unavailable.

We are not required to automatically accept a reservation request. We can carry on a virtual conversation with prospective guests, who prepay airbnb. At the conclusion of their stay the fee is deposited in our account.

Results have been positive. All parties treated our belongings well and left the apartment in good shape. So far nothing lost, stolen, or damaged.

Guests sometimes come for special events – weddings, family reunions, conventions, etc. Others want a get-away weekend, enjoying the beach, nearby restaurants and AC nightlife. Visitors like the convenience of a kitchen and a space to relax that is not also their bedroom.

Why not stay in local hotels, B&Bs or other accommodations?

AC weekend and holiday hotel rates are expensive, occasionally exorbitant – anywhere from $200-$400 or more a night. Prices are also high at area B&Bs and reputable non-casino hotels during the same time periods.

Bargains can be found weekdays, especially off-season, but a lot of people cannot take time off and take advantage of low midweek rates.

Airbnb has expanded travel opportunities and options and become very popular. As a result the fledgling industry has attracted the attention of established business competitors such as hotels and the owner of the B&B who wrote the newspaper article.

New ideas frequently bump up against traditional ways of doing things. But change is ingrained in our society and an essential part of our business culture, even though strong forces often fight innovative ideas and businesses threatening their domain.

But that is the American way.

Local governments are beginning to scrutinize airbnb and similar companies, eying a source of revenue and concerned about liability issues. Some regulation will probably be enacted in many municipalities to protect all parties involved in a transaction. Unfortunately governments may one day regulate airbnb out of existence, and/or demand mounds of paperwork a lot of part-time hosts will not, cannot, or may simply refuse to do, quietly delisting their property.

That would be a shame. The American entrepreneurial spirit should remain alive and well and thrive. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

2016 Presidential Campaign Update #9

763 Days until the 2016 Presidential Election

This series is supposed to be about the 2016 Presidential election, but the political scene sometimes presents non-Presidential-related events and personalities too interesting to overlook.

I loved reading about the recent trial in Virginia starring former Governor Bob McDonnell and his (most likely) soon-to-be ex-wife Maureen. It was better than any TV soap opera. The couple was accused of taking gifts and cash from a businessman in exchange for political favors.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and his name is Jonnie Williams.

Only a very small number of people were lucky enough to be recipients of Mr. Williams’ largesse. Either the ex-governor and his wife, or only his wife (depending on whose story you believe), was fortunate enough to receive presents from Williams.

The couple arrived at the courthouse separately, with different legal teams. The marriage, whether at one time genuine or not, was apparently over, the public façade shattered.

Was the marriage in trouble? Or was the couple’s problems a charade to protect the governor’s reputation and make his wife the scapegoat? Probably only the lawyers know for sure…

Gifts lavished on a governor could be considered bribes and illegal. Gifts bestowed on a governor’s wife, who is not a public official, are not legally considered improper.

The political scandal morphed into a potential sex scandal. Allegations asserted the governor’s wife had sex with/wanted to have sex with/hallucinated about sex with Williams.

The prosecutor granted Williams immunity as a reward for testifying against the McDonnells.

The outcome of the trial: The Governor and his wife were convicted of conspiracy, bribery, and extortion, the Governor on eleven counts, Maureen on nine. Both face prison. Both are now appealing their convictions. Stay tuned…

Remember Mark Sanford, the ex-Governor of South Carolina currently representing a congressional district in the House of Representatives? While Governor, Sanford took a short vacation and went hiking on the Appalachian Trail - according to his office - but actually boarded a plane to Argentina to spend time with his mistress, leaving his wife and four sons home. Fast forward a couple of years, and, as Beyoncé sings:

… if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it

If you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it

Don't be mad once you see that he want it

'Cause if you liked it,
then you shoulda put a ring on it

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Apparently Sanford kept giving his mistress/fiancé excuses for not setting a wedding date. She left him in September.

Beyonce sings Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), lyrics on screen.
(adding some fun to the serious subject of politics!)

In other political news…

Media attention currently focuses on the 2014 elections. All House seats are up for election, and a number of Senate seats are hotly contested, including Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Iowa, and New Hampshire. This election will set the stage for 2016.

Republican contenders for a Presidential run in 2016 have not changed much over the past few months. The Republican Roster –

There are rumblings Romney might run again. How boring can a race get?...Senator Rand Paul and Rep. Paul Ryan are both considered frontrunners. A lot of influential party regulars consider Paul too libertarian, and Ryan is aligned with ultra-conservatives not too popular in polls…New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie remains on the list, but is too liberal for a wide swath of the party. And he is from New Jersey (‘nuf said)…Jeb Bush is another name thrown around, but do we really want a third Bush in the White House?...Marco Rubio might attract Latino votes, but his pro-immigrant leanings are unpopular with conservatives…A hero of the right, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is mired in his own political campaign conspiracy scandal which involves coordinating ads from various supposedly independent non-profits. Not nearly as interesting as hiking the Appalachian Trail or outright bribery…Then there is Texan (not by birth) Senator Ted Cruz. Personally I favor setting Texas up as a separate country with Ted Cruz and Rick Perry (another contender) in charge…Ex-Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana keep popping up on talk shows…Dr. Ben Carson is an interesting candidate who has never held elected office.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton took time off to enjoy her first grandchild.

A wide-ranging list of Republican and Democratic 2016 Presidential candidates can be found on this website

Don’t wait until 2016 to cast your ballot!

VOTE

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2014

Friday, October 3, 2014

TV Favorites of the Boomer Generation

A short trip down memory lane…

The type of TV in my house 1950s/early 60s.
The Boomers were the first generation to grow up watching TV. A small black and white box graced our living room – nowadays termed the family room. I cannot remember not having a TV in the house.  

Network TV started nationwide broadcasts in the late 50s.

Millions of boomers living throughout the country viewed the same programs at almost the same time (not exactly the same time due to time zone differences) where ever they lived and whatever their economic circumstances, religion, color, culture, or family situation. This commonality morphed into collective cultural memories influencing our generation, a phenomenon unprecedented in history.

I did not spend most days watching hours of TV or playing with electronics, as so many kids do today. I remember coming home from school, changing clothes – we had school clothes and play clothes – and going outside. Or sitting down with a book. I was a bookworm.

There was no TV before or immediately after school, at least not until my teen years. I enjoyed morning TV on Saturdays when cartoons and shows like Sky King aired…but I digress…

Recently I came across some TV-related trivia calling to mind fond memories of programs past.

Sixty years ago (ouch!), on October 3, 1954 - I was four years old – Father Knows Best premiered. I doubt I saw this first episode, but remember watching the show over the years. Youngest daughter Cathy was my favorite character, probably because I related to her the most. Betty was too old for me to have much in common.  


Father Knows Best cast:  Robert Young, Jane Wyatt, Elinor Donahue, 
Lauren Chapin, Billy Gray

The perfect American family, the Andersons, Mom, Dad and three children, a close-knit, loving clan, maneuvered life’s everyday ups and downs during the course of 203 episodes, ending in 1960.

One year later two shows that targeted young people debuted - Captain Kangaroo and The Mickey Mouse Club. Captain Kangaroo, along with his cohorts (remember Mr. Green Jeans?), aired for 30 years. Bob Keeshan, the original Clarabell the Clown on The Howdy Doody Show, starred. I only mention The Howdy Doody Show because it is my one claim to TV fame. As a kid – I cannot remember when, but must have been five or six – I was in The Howdy Doody Show Peanut Gallery. All I remember is sitting cross-legged on the floor in a party dress and clapping a lot.
The opening of the Captain Kangaroo show
  
The Mickey Mouse Club featured kids a little older than most of the show’s viewers. We sat engrossed in a children’s version of then-popular variety shows.  The roll call of Mousekeeters, wearing their ears, white tops and matching skirts or slacks, echoes in my mind.

I was curious about the color of the skirts and pants. Investigating online, a couple of colored photographs revealed the early Mouseketeers wearing blue and black. Apparently the group had more than one costume. It makes sense Mr. Disney could afford wardrobe variations.

Two years later – October 4, 1957 – another series destined for TV history premiered. The theoretically typical American middle-class suburban family was eminently portrayed in the sitcom Leave it to Beaver. We watched The Beaver and his older brother Wally maneuver through the trials and tribulations of growing up. The story lines provided a window into the mind of boys that girls rarely understood.

I marveled that June Cleaver was always immaculately attired in dresses and pearls, and wore heels while bustling around the kitchen. My Mom rarely donned heels, wearing comfortable shoes for her job as an elementary school librarian. She changed clothes before cooking.

Leave it to Beaver lasted until 1963, when the Beaver entered high school and Wally left for college.
 The introduction and music of one episode of Leave it to Beaver.

And now it’s time to say goodbye….
by the Mouseketeers.