I gave up cable and satellite TV a couple of years back. It is going on three years now, and I can’t say that I have missed any of those 200 channels that used to occupy my time. I have an antenna, and my TV gets about 38 channels. Of those 38 I watch maybe five or six all the time. I love watching old “I Love Lucy” re-runs or “Partridge Family” or even an occasional “Love Boat.”
I was a child of the TV generation. My family got a television right after I was born. Before that there were radio dramas to listen too. My brother liked “The Shadow.” He and my sister were often invited to the neighbors to watch TV. I imagine it was “Howdy Doody,” or “The Lone Ranger.”
I was thinking of childhood heroes the other day. I was watching a rerun in black and white, of “Superman.” George Reeves was one of my early heroes. No matter what, no matter how bad it would be, Superman would make everything alright in the end. When dressed as Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter, he was just a handsome guy. Good looking hard working and always gentlemen. I was sad later in life when I heard that George had taken his life. Maybe he believed a just a little too much in the fantasy.
My other television hero was Rex Allen. He played a buggy driving country doctor in a series called “The Country Doctor.” All I remember about him was how handsome he was and what a wonderful voice he had. He went on in later years to do the voice parts for a lot of the “Wonderful World of Disney” shows. If his voice came on as narrator, no matter what the story, I would sit and listen till the program ended.
Years later when you look back on these heroes, they seem rather shallow and very unrealistic.
You never realize the person, who was your real hero, who would have saved you from all peril, was the guy living in your house that you called Dad.
From the time I was little, I knew my Dad had been at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. So were my Mom and my sister. Yeah, ok. And? My Mom and my sister were sent home after the war started, and they were ok, right? There was never any talk to me about what happened there or who survived or what he saw. He served his country, did his job and came home to his family.
I had a classmate ask me why I never mentioned my Dad being at Pearl Harbor. Well that was what he was supposed to do, right? He didn’t avoid the subject; he just didn’t make a big deal out of it.
I remember being on my way home after being in Germany for a year. I was traveling in January. It was cold, it was snowing and icy. After our plane left New York, they were closing airports right behind us. I remember landing in Chicago. I wanted to be home so bad. I was tired and weary, and if the plane couldn’t fly, well I would just call Dad he would drive to Chicago and get me. We were allowed to leave, so the call didn’t have to be made. I kind of think he would have come for me after all.
I look at those two TV heroes that I idolized. All of a sudden I realized those were the qualities I saw in my Dad. Mild mannered, good looking, always a gentleman. He had a wonderful voice. Always seemed to save the day, just in the nick of time. He was always waiting when the Pep Club bus pulled into the school. He never let me down.
I guess what it amounts to is this. We look for someone to be our hero when we have learned all the qualities that the job requires have been taught to us by the guy sitting across the table from us at supper. He couldn’t fly, and he wasn’t a doctor, but somewhere there might have been a shirt with a giant “S” on the front.
Heroes may be closer than you think