- Vintage TV Christmas: Irwin Allen Style -
Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Sunday, November 19, 2023
Margaret Sizemore Clark
For those of us old enough to remember this date, it was one that would forever change our world.
I was 9 years old on this date. I went to school just like I did any other day…except it was not to be like any other day. We were out at recess playing kickball when the bell rang and my teacher, Miss Kerr, came to the playground to get us. I don’t remember her being upset and I don’t remember how she broke the news to us, but I remember the effect of that news.
The previous June President Kennedy had come to our town, China Lake, CA and the Naval Ordinance Test Station. “The Base” as we called it, was home to a laboratory and testing facility for the Navy and was chiefly tasked with developing new weapons. Their most recent accomplishment, the Sidewinder missile, was a major development, and as Commander-in-Chief, President Kennedy decided to come to the base for a demonstration of the missile’s capabilities. As you can imagine, the news that the President of the United States was coming to the base was unimaginably exciting!
The day of the President’s visit his jet, Air Force One, landed on the tarmac at the Naval Air Facility. Bleachers had been erected to hold the dignitaries and the crowds that planned to attend. I can remember being part of the throng that had gathered near the laboratory, where my father’s office was located. It was a sea of people, but the President got out of his limousine and walked along the edges of the crowd shaking hands and nodding and smiling. After he toured the lab, he exited out the main entrance, directly in front of where my father was standing before a replica of the Sidewinder missile. It was an incredible day.
On November 22 of that year, we all heard the news that President Kennedy had been assassinated. We went home from school to watch the repeat of the tape that recorded the fateful drive through Dealey Plaza; we witnessed the sheer panic and confusion of the onlookers as the shots rang out. We saw Mrs. Kennedy’s reaction to her husband’s injury, and her blood-stained suit. The network played the scene over and over and every time it ended with Walter Cronkite’s announcement, “President Kennedy died at 1 PM Central Standard Time”. Throughout the afternoon we were glued to our TV set, being updated with what was happening in Dallas. What stands out in my mind was the arrival of the ambulance that carried the President’s body pulling up to Air Force One. The casket was put on a scissor-like apparatus and lifted to the cargo hold. That made it real. There was no mistake. Death is something kids don’t usually encounter, but there it was in all its horrible reality, and it was scary. We had just seen the President alive, smiling, shaking some of our hands not six months ago! How could this have happened? Mom and Dad watched with us, but no one said anything. Nothing could make the confusion, shock, and sadness go away.
The next few days were surreal: we watched as Jack Ruby murdered Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV. We watched the funeral and then the funeral procession, hearing drums beat a solitary cadence. The Kennedy family and other dignitaries walked those long blocks to Arlington Cemetery. The horses’ hooves clip-clopped but the saddle carried no rider, just a pair of boots placed backwards in the stirrups. No one said a word. The world changed forever for me that day; Unfortunately, it was just the first of so many things I would have to adjust to and try to make sense of. For my generation, that single event robbed us of our innocence, and opened our eyes to the real world. It was not the safe world we had lived in just days ago.
My father watching President Kennedy pass by.
I was 10 years old, attending the fourth grade class at Buchanan Street Elementary School, enjoying a Friday lunch hour and playground time. The usual Los Angeles smog had blown away from the Santa Ana “Devil Winds” the night before.
Sitting at a lunch bench, I thought about the next week’s Thanksgiving feast and yearly family get together as my teacher, Mrs. Hegney ran out of the building and on to the lunch yard. She clasped at a tissue when not dabbling it at her red, tearful eyes.
“The president has been shocked…The president has been shocked!!!" I was confused at first, having never seen Mrs. Hegney, or for that matter, any other adult crying..I thought, “What does she mean, the president has been shocked…how could he get SHOCKED?
I remember other classmates, leaving lunch tables, or running from the playground to gather around Mrs. Hegney to hear what was going on. During that time, our school principal stood at the door to the main hallway, her hands covering her eyes as she shrieked, “SOMEONE SHOT PRESIDENT KENNEDY IN THE HEAD!!!”
Our teacher quickly lead our group of confused or crying 10 year olds back to our classroom, where a school TV on a steel cart flickered in black and white across classroom walls and window blinds…live news coverage switching back and forth between Dallas Texas and New York.
For most 10-year-old fourth graders as myself, it was difficult comprehend what TV and radio broadcast was reporting. Arriving home from school a couple of hours later, my brothers and I walked in the door where my mom was closely focused on the screen of our television set, watching Walter Cronkite describe the chaos of Dallas that afternoon.
Once I felt the safety of being home from school a few hours later, the reality that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated became very real to me. Sixty years later, just as vivid, were the days following the Friday afternoon TV news bulletins and reports from across America and the world. The movie theaters in our neighborhood were unlighted and closed. Los Angeles Top 40 radio stations suspended regular music, and broadcast classical music throughout the weekend.
Sunday morning after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, my mom
made pancakes as my dad and I watched live coverage of the transfer from jail
of Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas. With
the shock of Friday’s tragedy still blurred but nonetheless fresh, Dad and I
watched in real time as the alleged assassin of JFK was, himself, killed by a
gunman in Dallas.
As with most American families, our Thanksgiving 1963 was a sad and solemn day.
Thursday, November 2, 2023
By Rev Protodeacon George A. Haloulakos
Friday, October 27, 2023
By Gil Tisnado
I could tell you I was born on a dark and stormy Halloween night; however, being born in San Diego that would be a lie. My mom with her Jeanne Crain/Gene Tierney brunette movie star looks was hoping for a boy, especially after giving birth to two girls. My dad, who looked like a Mexican John Garfield, was just excited and nervous with the prospect of being a first time father.
After a successful delivery, I was cleaned and ready for inspection. The doctor and nurses, although startled by what they saw, put on their best stoic medical profession faces. I was brought to my mom’s side. She was thrilled and elated that her dream of having a boy came true. She slowly removed the baby blankets to view her boy wonder and then began to scream, “Nurse! Nurse! What’s wrong with him.”
The nurse knowing full well what was wrong said, “Calm down, Mrs. Tisnado. What is it?”
My mom pointed to me and stuttered, “The, the…hair, the…hair!”
Fantasy just met reality or should I say fantasy just met the ugly reality of what I looked like. Apparently, I had so much excessive black hair everywhere, on my back, chest, and bottom. One of nurses in the corner of the room whispered, “Gorilla Baby!” While one of the other nurses muttered, “More like Son of Kong.” The doctor was summoned to calm my hysterical mother.
“Doctor, Doctor, will the hair ever go away” my mom cried out. I’m sure she was wondering how much electrolysis treatments would be for a baby, and how soon treatments could begin.
The doctor reassured my mom. “Don’t worry Mrs. Tisnado. The hair will eventually fall away. He’s just extraordinarily hairy.” I was then quickly covered up. My parents embraced and comforted each other, deciding they would love me regardless of my hairy condition.
It was time for me to go home and meet my golden blonde sisters; Marie age five and Ginger age four. They were so excited to see their new baby brother until they discovered I resembled Cheetah from the Tarzan movies. Ginger immediately ran to her bedroom crying. Outspoken, precocious little Marie pleaded, “Mommy, can’t you take him back to the hospital and trade him for another baby.” No, my mom told her. I was there to stay. This handsome family with movie star looks would just have to adjust to the hairy creature that was thrust upon them on Halloween 1949.
To this day my sister says, “You know from the very beginning there was something very odd about you.” Hey, it could have been worse. At least the folks didn’t bring home “Rosemary’s Baby.”
Sunday, October 15, 2023
by Margaret Sizemore-Clark
Back in my day, meaning when I was in my teens, Homecoming at my high school was a BIG deal. It was always celebrated in October, and alumni came from far and wide to attend…well, at least from Bakersfield where most of the local kids attended junior college. All sorts of special events took place during the week, culminating with THE GAME. It seemed as if the entire town was jammed into the bleachers and were ready to root The Burros on to victory. Yes, our high school’s mascot was a burro because the first commanding officer of the Navy base where I lived was named Sherman E. Burroughs.
The days leading up to the game were bursting with activities where each class fought for bragging rights against the other classes. For example, each class was responsible for building a class float. Floats were constructed from wood, cardboard, chicken wire, billions of napkins, and were built in someone’s back yard. Each day after school class members would work on their respective floats, shaping them into inspiring homages to the football team, and glorifying their ability to beat Friday night’s opponent. I personally spent hours stuffing paper napkins into the holes of chicken wire, so that when our creation was ready to be unveiled (and providing that the wind had not blown the napkins into the next county) it would be something that would evoke ooohs and ahhhs from the other classes. At the end of the week the floats were assembled on the football field, judged by the faculty, and the winning class announced.
Establishing athletic prowess was not just for the football team. Homecoming meant that the girls in each class could form teams and square off against the other classes in basketball and flag football. These teams were referred to as “Powder Puff” teams. (Definitely prior to Title IX.). Each team held practices, then would compete against each other in several games. Class pride was undoubtedly the motivation for the girls: The lowly Freshman team went up against the more-experienced Sophomores. The Juniors did the same, challenging the almighty Senior team until ultimately there were only two teams left to duke it out on the gym’s basketball court or on the football field. The games were well-attended and were just as exciting as the boys’ games.
Many of the girls from all the classes were members of the Pep Club. During Homecoming Week, they busied themselves making posters and signs, which appeared all over the campus.They decorated the field on game night, adding color and pizazz to the atmosphere.They practiced hand routines that were performed from the bleachers as the band played a rousing song, should the team make an exceptional play or score a touchdown.
The best day, at least for the senior class, was Senior Hard Times Day, when the seniors got to wear crazy things to school and require the underclass students to do whatever they were told. A sophomore might have to carry a senior’s books, and a junior shine his shoes. The worst was being a freshman. That year I was ordered to wear my clothing inside out. It was embarrassing, but it was a lot of fun, and no one thought of being mean.
Other events during the week included a pie-eating contest, tricycle races, skits, and pep rallies. The football players donned cheerleader uniforms and entertained the student body with their attempts at doing a cheer or a routine. Having fun was the goal of the entire week.
The night before the big game a large crowd of students gathered at a section of the desert across from the school for the purpose of having a bonfire. Throughout the week kids gathered wood (not always with the owner’s permission) and delivered it to the site of the bonfire. The wood pile grew larger and higher with each day’s additions. With the fire department close by, a torch was lit, and the huge mountain of wood was ignited! The cheering was deafening, the heat it generated was incredible, but the embers eventually turned to an orange glow, and it was time to sing the Alma Mater. EVERYONE sang it. It was like a hymn, and if you didn’t sing, well, you just didn’t have any school spirit.
The best part of Homecoming for me was being in the band. I loved all the extra practice we put in. We worked hard on a special half-time show, and the Pep Band performed at every rally. We got to ride on a flat-bed truck through the town, playing all the fight songs over and over again. Is it any wonder that after 50 years I can still play “Anchors Aweigh” from memory?? (As another nod to our Navy roots, “Anchors Aweigh” was adopted as the fight song.)
Sometime during the week, the kids in the Senior class scaled the hill we called B Mountain, to put a fresh coat of whitewash on the rocks that formed a capital “B”. They also had to update the previous class’s work so that on the evening of the game, when the spotlight was switched on after sunset, the resplendent “B” and our graduation year was highlighted for all to withhold.
On the night of the game the excitement was electric! The band in their uniforms marched to a
Wednesday, October 4, 2023
By Rev Protodeacon George A. Haloulakos