Monday, August 24, 2009

Aw, heck, you little goof

Tonight, my kids popped in one of the DVDs from our Season One box set of Leave It To Beaver. I used to love watching reruns (no, not original episodes) of the Beav, and back then, it didn't really register what an odd and anachronistic world those Cleavers inhabited. 
The show might as well have been named Beaver and Wally's Adventures in Caucasia. Seriously, everything on the show was white. All the people were white; one of Beaver's friends was even named Whitey. June's dress, pearls and valiums were white, or maybe an off-white, and I'm sure the local Mayfield Soda Fountain had every type of white ice cream: vanilla bean, French vanilla and, well, vanilla.
It was a man's world. Ward spent his days doing some mystery job at the office with the other guys, and came home to the lovely June, already stationed inside the door with the newspaper and a welcoming peck on his grizzled cheek . The boys referred to him as "sir." After June ratted out Wally and the Beav for whatever transgression they had committed that day, Ward served up the perfect solution/punishment, leaving June to marvel at his parental prowess. I'm sure he was equally talented in other, more mature arenas, but we weren't privy to any of that unwholesomeness. 
When the parents wanted to kick back on the weekends, June would sport some shorter heels, and Ward would slip on one of his many cardigans and some casual slacks. I'm thinking that maybe the underwear they wore on weekends wasn't starched and ironed, either.
But in spite of all the uptight, Cold-War-era propriety, the kids on the show kept things real. I'm sure that even in our current society, kids are still getting their heads stuck between iron railings, or giving their little brothers beastly haircuts, or developing knee-buckling crushes on their first grade teachers. And I think that's why I've watched that show over twelve thousand times.

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