Kim, in Baltimore, writing up lists and a menu for a gluten-free Thanksgiving.
[The winner of the anthology Over the River and Through the Woods is Susan Sportiello. Send me your info at firstname.lastname@example.org]
Last week I read online that the daytime soap Days of Our Lives was going off the air. I watched nearly every soap opera on television, but Days was not one of them. Still, it made me sad to learn of its demise. I grew up watching a lot of television. A Lot. If ever I’m on Jeopardy and all the questions involve 1970’s television, I’m sure to be a Jeopardy champion.
Mom was not a soap opera fan, but Nana loved them and would tell me how she’d been following The Guiding Light since it was on the radio. When Nana came home from work we would watch The Edge of Night and Dark Shadows. I was about six years old when she retired from McCormicks and that’s when our addiction really kicked in.
In the summer, we’d begin our day with Love of Life, followed by Search for Tomorrow, All My Children, The Young and the Restless, Bold and the Beautiful, As the World Turns, Guiding Light, and General Hospital. We switched from channel to channel during commercials, trying to watch them all. Our favorite was One Life to Live. I recall clearly how Nana and I cried when Meredith died and left Dr. Larry a widower with a young son.
Pop-Pop was even in on our stories, as we called them. During the school year he would watch whichever program was running a particularly interesting story line and take notes for me. One of my all-time favorite’s was in the early 1980’s on Guiding Light and involved the characters of Tony and Annabelle. The plot was similar to the movie Ghost Story. It involved a few of the older gentlemen in the town of Springfield who, when younger, had inadvertently caused a woman’s death. Harley Jane Kozak played the part of Annabelle and I cant begin to tell you how thrilled I was to meet her at Malice Domestic when she won the Agatha for Best First Novel [Dating Dead Men].
I know that soaps get a bad rap and people make fun of them, but they are also a good writing tool. What keeps viewers tuning in everyday? How do you keep a plot interesting? It’s easy to tell what works and when the writers have gone too far. The soaps are also a good way to look at character development and character arcs. How did Erica Kane go from villain to heart of the show? There’s a lot to be learned here.
I miss those days of watching television with my grandparents and the lively discussions we would have about our favorite – and not so favorite – characters. I never watched soaps with either of my children. My daughter and I made a habit of catching every episode of The Gilmore Girls and I guess you could argue that’s similar to a soap. We planned our entire evening around that show and still talk about the episodes.
it’s been many years since I’ve watched a soap opera. I think I watched the final episode of Guiding Light, but that was mostly out of sentimentality. Occasionally I flip through a soap magazine while waiting in the check out line, but I couldn’t truthfully tell you what shows are still on. It’s funny how things that were once so important can fade away. Looking back, I believe it was more about the time spent with my family than the shows. And I’m thankful to have those memories.
Dear Reader, Please tell us some of your favorite shows or pass times you shared with your family while growing up.