Thursday, October 18, 2012

Searching for Tomorrow

Old TV by midgefrazel
Old TV, a photo by midgefrazel on Flickr.

Searching for Tomorrow: Stories of Family

When I talk to strangers about genealogy, I often spend time reflecting on how lucky I have been to have known some of my grandparents and to have listened to their stories (and remembered them).  But, there are stories of family all around us and it happens so often that we may not even notice it!

My grandmother and mother were stay-at-home moms. They took a break from their housework to listen to their "stories". Today, we call those TV programs, "Soap Operas". If you don't know why, then you should look that up.

One of my earliest memories is of lying in my crib, watching the blue curtains in my chiildhood bedroom, moving in the breeze with the sounds of the music and conversations of the TV (this one pictured here) while Love of Life and Search for Tomorrow were on. The comings and goings of the characters in these programs were topics of comversation in my family, just as if they were real stories about people in our family or in the neighborhood.

My mother told me that she was shopping in Macy's in New York and got on the elevator to go to another floor and met soap actor Larry Haines. She said hello to him but couldn't quite place who he was until her got off at his floor. I guess my mother was always "Searching for Tomorrow". Well, aren't we all?

Serial stories were popular in print and on the radio. Many TV soaps began on radio and moved to TV. I can't imagine how excitied people must have been to be part of that. But, folks, many of the story themes were about family and society. (Think: Dickens and Little Orphan Annie)

One that sticks in my mind was "I Remember Mama" about a Swedish immigrant family. Hey, if this isn't family history for Family History Month, what is? 


Anonymous said...

Hi Midge, Your photo of the television set reminds me so of the first one we had at home that I can remember as a little child. I remember watching the Grand Ole Opry, and Mitch Miller with my grandmother. Mom watched Queen for a Day and December Bride. Dad watched USC and L.A. Rams' football games. Those were good days.

Anonymous said...

Midge, I have a childhood memory of walking down our street of little cape-cod style houses and out of many front doors, hearing the theme music from the various soap operas. Women liked their "stories" and while it wasn't really my mom's thing, I'm sure my great-grandma watched them. When I was a sophomore in college, I was allowed to bring to my dorm a small extra tv from home, and sometimes watched the soaps there.
So funny you should mention Macy's because after college I was dating a union organizer who worked out of NY City. Once while there with him, we went to Macy's and I almost fell over when a tall, distinguished actor from "All My Children" walked by me outside the lunchroom. I felt so embarrassed that I had stared at him! He stopped for a second as if he was trying to see if he knew me, but of course he didn't. It's been maybe 30 years since I watched a soap but I still, from time to time, recognize an actor who has moved onto other television roles.