And a One, and a Two….. Linda Knight Seccaspina
For nearly 28 years I think I watched every single episode of the Lawrence Welk Show– or, sometimes it felt like I did. Lawrence Welk was the musical voice of my Popeye candy cigarette generation. His shows carried on for almost 30 years, and after I stopped watching them I knew that my Grandmother and others had not stopped the tradition. In all honesty, Lawrence Welk never ever really went away.
Through the magic of syndication and of course the internet, the late Lawrence Welk still blows his signature bubbles to this day. I was born from a generation that has long forgotten Welk’s music, comparing it to music found in second hand shops or those occasional visits to your granny’s home. Then there were some of the odd things that I will never forget about the program. Maybe they weren’t strange to some, but I couldn’t figure out what kind of allure those Irish tenors had. Or, was there ever really a wrong time to get up and polka?
But, really it was the innocence of it all, something the whole family could watch and enjoy– especially those Lennon Sisters. It was a very different era when they were known as America’s sweethearts with their sugary smiles and angelic voices. Actually, did you know that most of Welk’s musical numbers consisted of pre recorded lip- and finger-sync performances? Finger -synching means accordion player Myron Floren was just tickling those accordion keyboards and not really playing.
Those were the days of no remote control and you had to get up to change the channel. My grandfather not only got up to change it, but he also adjusted the “rabbit ear” antenna on the top of the television set. I can still remember the clicking as it turned to one of the 5 channels we had.
What was watched on television was determined by the elders in your family. Evening television wasn’t watched until dinner was done, dishes put away, and the only television was in the living room.
We watched specific programs at night and never really strayed. Lawrence Welk was a favourite, but so was Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights. Then there was the Sunday afternoon Hymn Sing, Ed Sullivan and Bonanza on Sunday evenings, and of course Tommy Hunter’s Country Jamboree on Friday night.
Every Saturday night my grandfather would cross South street to Varin’s Pharmacy and buy a large bar of chocolate. In the winter he would sit in his chair and carefully break apart the bar so we could all share while watching the Admiral television. In the summer the treat would be a bag of Laura Secord Fruit Flavoured Jelly Slices.There are many cosy memories of huddling around the TV set with my grandparents that I will never forget.
My grandfather would only sit in his upholstered chair beside the old radio that he listened to the BBC news on. My grandmother was in her well worn armchair on the left with a stack of Reader’s Digests on the small table along with whatever needed darning that week. I sat on the long blue couch that was covered in plastic that had never been removed since its entry into the house decades ago. It made a loud crunch each time you sat on it, and the plastic stuck to you in the summer heat. But, everyone covered their couches in those days to preserve its beauty, and it was as normal as having a daily cup of tea. Today, I wondered if they all had been secretly preparing for a virus.
I still occasionally watch Lawrence Welk on PBS and memories of my ageing neighbour comes to mind who loved this show too. In the mid mark of her dementia a few years ago she and I were watching a rerun of the famed bandleader and she turned to me and quietly said during a commercial,
“You know dear, I’ve always liked Lawrence Welk. But, I think he was better before he died.”
Now that statement was worth any bar of accordion music any day of the year. Thanks for the memories Mr. Welk!