Erin Moran, died April 22, 2017. She was 56 years old. 2 years older than me. She was a part of family television watching from when I was 11 years old. Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Mash, so many sitcoms with so many talented actors. Many went on to great things. And a great many did not.
Part of growing older is reaching that age when things from your past find their way into the news because of tragedy. That people pass every year is nothing new, but the memories that are a part of that time, make us reflect back to a simpler time in our life. A time where we only had one television, watching TV at night was a decision all had to agree on. There was no going to the other room to watch on another TV, we didn’t have 500+ channels and access to thousands of movies. We had 4 VHF stations and 4 UHF. Channel 12, and 23 were PBS (Public Broadcasting) so they really didn’t count. No, the big 3. NBC, ABC, and CBS were the choices we had.
I sense the irony of this picture I saw yesterday.
This was me growing up. We got home from school, maybe grabbed a quick snack, put on clothes to play outside, came in for dinner, went back out and we were out until the street lights came on. Then it was some time to do homework, then we all got comfortable to watch 90 minutes of TV. Then we were off to bed. It was a different time. And unless you lived through it, you really cannot describe how it was.
While I may recall those years with rose colored glasses, I do recall the harder times. Learning the hard way cutting grass that lawn mowers can catch fire, recalling now the years my dad was unemployed but still took us on vacation to Florida. I know now what it must have felt like to him. Stopping at the unemployment office to get the money that would pay for the drive to Florida so we could go to this new attraction, Disney World. I can imagine now as an adult how he must have felt pulling up to what eventually would be the entrance to a visitors information building showing the model of what the Magic Kingdom would be, in a few short months time. For my sister and I we didn’t know. We were in Florida and got to spend a few days at a hotel on the beach. What we didn’t know is my dad was also down there looking for work. How different our lives might have been if he had found a job there. All of the neighborhood friends we had.
It seemed to be a much simpler time to me, because I was a kid. And kids should not have to worry about the complexities of life. They should have a chance to be kids. Some may look back at the age of my youth and think we had it easy. But looking back, life was just as difficult then as it can be now. Not many, unless you are my age or older, recall the odd even gasoline ration days, that mortgage rates were 12-14% if you were lucky, that minimum wage was around $1.25. The grocery store had manual cash registers, and the cashiers knew prices off the top of their heads, because they had too. We walked 6 blocks to the food store. If we had a big order we pushed the cart all the way home, then brought it back. It was a great thing when someone in the neighborhood got a new washer or dryer, or the holy grail, a refrigerator box. They became forts, pirate ships, tanks to fight wars, and when they were all beaten up? A slide on the neighbors lawn that had a little hill.
It was a different time to live. A different way to live. And in some way, the sitcom Happy Days was a reflection on it. So my deep felt condolences to Erin Moran’s family and friends on their loss. A thank you to her and the memories of that time of my life.