It was a dark and noisy night back in 1990 when the scourge of my youth became the savior of my sanity. Picture it. I’m alone, young, and relatively inexperienced. None of the usual procedures were having any effect. Hungry, no. Thirsty, no. Diaper, surprisingly no. Rocking useless, threats pointless my daughter was only 15 months old after all. Nothing I did made made any difference. She would not stop screaming.
In desperation I turned to the boob tube, television, the babysitter of millions. I clicked up through the stations on the Magnavox console one at a time. Each click another nail in the coffin of hope. With only one station left I up channeled to UHF 68. My daughter inhaled, gasped a few times then finally succumbed to the rhythmic melodies of Lawrence Welk and the Champagne Music Makers.
Lawrence and I go way back. Back to Serutan, Geritol and the Kimball and Baldwin placards on his pianos and organs. Some of my earliest memories are interactions with my paternal grandparents as they watched his program. Fifty plus years later I can still remember them telling me to be quiet, or go out and play. I don’t think they gave a hoot where. I could have been playing in the middle of the street for all they cared. It was Lawrence Welk time.
They loved Lawrence so much they wanted to sell their house and move to Lawrence Welk Village Mobile Home Park in Escondido, California. Bobby and Sissy, Norma Zimmer and Jimmy Roberts were considered personal friends. So were Jo Ann Castle, Larry Hooper, Irish crooner Joe Feeney and Arthur Duncan the black tap dancer. How Lawrence got away with that stereotype I do not know. My grandma was suspicious of Guy and Ralna, though. She thought they were just to lovey dovey to be real. She was right. They divorced in 1984.
My mother just turned 89. For the better part of her life she watched whatever we kids or my dad wanted to watch. I don’t think she ever touched the remote except to move it to dust. The Lawrence Welk Show was not a big deal to her. But it is now! She and the other ladies at the retirement center are religious viewers. We don’t even bother to call or visit while it’s on. I learned my lesson a long time ago.
Mom’s conversion got me thinking. If I live long enough will I fall prey to the siren’s song of the Lawrence Welk Show? I’m a Rock and Roll guy. Remember New Wave? Buggles, Video killed the Radio Star? Hey I helped them! I was all MTV, narrow ties, Blondie, The Go Go’s even the Talking Heads. Certainly I’m immune.
But am I? Will I look back on the Saturday nights of my youth when Lawrence and his musical family came to visit and ask them to stay? Somehow I already know the answer. If my mother is any indication I believe one day we will all end up at Larry’s.