My Grandparent-Driven Pop Culture Education


I had the pleasure of spending some time this past weekend with all four of my grandparents (Yes, I'm 57 - give or take - and I still have all four of my GPs.  I'm a lucky lady).  And with the passing of Rue McClanahan last week, whom I spent a lot of time watching over the years with my grandmothers on The Golden Girls, I've been thinking a lot about how my grandparents have influenced my love of all things entertainment.  

I was privileged to grow up living across the street from my dad's parents and a few blocks away from my mom's parents (cuz that's how we do it on the Northwest Side of Chicago).  I spent a lot of time at both homes playing games (like Aggravation and the fabulous fabricated "Eye of the Tiger") and reading books and coloring pictures, but I also spent a lot of time in both homes watching TV.  
I want to take the opportunity to thank the four of them for playing a part in my pop culture education.
Thank you, Amma, for teaching me about old movies.  I vividly remember curling up in the recliners of your TV room and watching old Shirley Temple films and the Katharine Hepburn version of Little Women.  I also want to thank you for teaching me about the value of watching a horrible film for entertainment's sake.  The time you rented The Wilderness Family Part 2 for one of our all-cousins sleepovers is legendary.  I don't think I'd ever laughed so hard over something so unintentionally funny.
Thank you, Papa, for teaching me about golf.  I know watching The Masters tournament probably wasn't what a young pre-teen girl necessarily wanted to be doing with her afternoon, but your enthusiasm for the game really instilled some excitement in me.  Even to the point where I started playing the game itself.  Without your encouragement and your insistence on including golf in my life, I never would've joined the golf team in high school and I never would've ever in a million years have gotten any varsity letters.
Thank you, Grandpa, for teaching me about what it means to be a Cubs fan.  When my dad's parents used to babysit for us, my brother and I (and our grandmother -- see below) would usually take over the TV room for our own purposes.  But sometimes, if there was a particularly good game on or if the Cubs were in a pennant hunt, we'd let Grandpa back in the room so that we could join him in crowding around the TV set to watch the Cubs on WGN.  The rest of the time, Grandpa would be relegated to the front room (as they used to call their living room) to listen to the game on a tinny desktop radio.  Without fail, he'd have the dial tuned to the Cubs, through good times and bad, in sickness and in health, through good Sammy Sosa and bad Sammy Sosa.  After 90 years in Cubdom, you represent to me what it means to be a diehard fan.  I hope the Cubs win the World Series in your lifetime.  Probably won't happen this season, but maybe next year?
Thank you, Grandma, for teaching me about game shows.  My grandma recently made the claim that she's never been a big TV watcher.  I beg to differ.  I mean, we didn't always spend our time with her in front of the TV, sometimes we'd play Jai Alai or "Mother May I?" in the backyard and sometimes we'd play cards and board games in the kitchen (while eating Bugles -- yum!), but more often than not we'd be in their TV room, coloring or doing word searches or sorting through her button jar while the entire USA game show lineup played in the background.  We watched Win, Lose or Draw and Press Your Luck (No Whammies and...stop) and Tic-Tac-Dough and $25,000 Pyramid and The Joker's Wild and Scrabble (Man, USA should bring back the game show block).  I know watching all of these shows (plus Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune) helped to boost my knowledge of mindless trivia, and I'm thankful to have those facts.  
And I'm thankful to have spent time with all of these amazing people over all of these years.  

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