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Fred's Views


One of the results of growing older is the realization of the fickle nature of time. We think of time as a constantly flowing unidirectional, unstoppable force. And it is (as far as we know). But it is much more.

Networks like A&E sometimes broadcast "old" favorite TV shows. I have enjoyed "McMillan and Wife", "Banacek", "Columbo" and "Magnum, P.I.". I can still remember, sort of, seeing them when first run. "Magnum", in particular, seems like only yesterday. I haven't checked into when it did actually end its run, but I suspect it's more than ten years ago. Black and white shows like "I Love Lucy", while still immensely entertaining, seem like another lifetime ago. They just about were - I was a mere child when they first aired. In fact, most of them I did see only in reruns because we didn't have a TV until the series was nearly over. I barely remember old series like "My Little Margie", "Our Miss Brooks", "Topper", "Oh, Susanna", Ann Southern and "Bachelor Father". I was young enough and they are old enough that they do seem ancient. But not so shows from the seventies and eighties.

I sometimes watch old game shows on satellite. My favorite, I confess, is "Match Game" with Gene Rayborn. "Match Game" went through several metamorphoses, including a 1990 version with a different host. It originally aired in black and white in the 1960's. When it reappeared in the 1970's, I started watching it. So familiar is the program, that watching it now is more like watching last year's reruns than a program that is almost thirty years old. (I saw my first episode of the '90's version yesterday. The only "original" panelist was Charles Nelson Reilly, who has certainly aged, though much of the wit remains.)

There are a lot of elements that go into a successful program: the writers, the performers and the chemistry to mention a few. "Match Game" in its hey dey had all three. It appeared at a time when "naughtiness" was still taboo on TV, but thinking "naughty" thoughts was becoming acceptable. So, what would hardly raise an eyebrow today, was fairly risqué, especially for daytime TV. And that was part of its charm.

Watching it now is something like imagining your high school reunion: reliving the great days and picturing your friends as they appeared then, rather than as the middle-age disillusioned adults they have become. Through the wonder of technology, time does stand still, if only for a few minutes, and we relive the moments as if they were yesterday instead of a generation (or two) ago.

My older son laughs at the wild hair styles and clothes of the seventies. It isn't quite so funny to me. I sported similar hair styles and wore similar clothing, in fact, I may still have some in my closet. I know I still have ties dating back to that era and earlier. My tie collection has remained intact while tie widths grew wider, then narrower, then wider again. I confess I have no idea what width tie is currently "in fashion" and I couldn't care less. But I'm sure there is a tie in my collection that matches the width if not the design of today's fashions. I've even got a selection of "clip-on" ties. I used to wear a tie to work every day in the early seventies. And I wore ties to church and other formal settings. Today, I put a tie on maybe twice a year, and hate every second of it.

I read somewhere that a tie is the only article of apparel that serves no function - and has never served any function. I believe it. It started out as a scarf that some foppish monarch draped around his neck. From there, everything just went down hill.

I look around and see how old all my friends are getting. When did it happen? How did it happen? Thank God it didn't happen to me, did it?

The ravages of time. There is no escaping it, except in our memories and in old TV reruns.

Copyright © 2002 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.

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