From ShowBiz To Sunday School

An Extra Story (part two)


For lunch, she went home to feed Harry, Sally, and Joe, and when she returned had more stories to tell. It seems Joe doesn’t care for split peas soup, but Sally loves it, “she likes to dip her bread in it.” Harry is a crouton man, and has the tendency to overdo it, until he has made a mess. Then he takes out the soggy ones and throws them at Joe, who in turn makes a big wad, and tries to shove it in Sally’s ear. When that doesn’t work, he dumps it in his soup until it is good and soggy, and then shoves it in his pants, patting it and smiling. Sally screams with great delight over the Joe’s antics, which makes Harry jealous. He then starts throwing more croutons, and turns his bowl of soup over, then puts his fingers in his eyes. Sally reaches over and unties Harry’s bow tie, Harry hits her with his soup’s spoon, and steals her bread. Mama finally says, “that will be enough!” And no cookies are passed around.

All through the day, she revels in telling me stories of the little ones.   How Sally loved wearing high heels, but was not very steady in them, and falls down the stairs. “She does that all the time, and never gets hurt, she just tumbles down like a slinky.” “And Joe spanks her for falling.” This was all quite too much for me, such children! I had never heard of this sort of behavior before. But she continued to tell me how Harry had one bad habit, he liked to tinkle in the potted palm. “He’s so mature, otherwise, I just don’t know what I’m going to do with him.”

It was at this point she asked me if I would like to see some photos of the children.   I couldn’t wait! I had a preconceived idea of what they looked like, and couldn’t wait to see if I was correct. She pulled the photo wallet out of her purse, and let the plastic folder unfold, placing it on my lap and said, “here they are.” My eyes just about fell out of my head, for on my lap were a dozen pictures of chimpanzees, Sally, Harry, and Joe!   “Good gosh, I said, they’re chimps.” Indignantly she retorted, “No, these are my children!”



We have now come to the pivotal Thanksgiving week of 1965. It was Wednesday, and the show I was working on was McHale’s Navy. A television sitcom that played for many seasons, and is still going strong in syndication. I had worked with them many times before, but something was to happen over the long weekend that would forever change my feelings about McHale’s Navy. Also one individual in particular, and in a significant way it changed my life.

Understand that I was an incurable romantic, apparently waiting or searching for that special encounter. When I was nineteen, in late January of 1962 I had a series of deep dreams, almost visionary experience of a person that I would call “My Someone.” And would write each morning after these experiences, of this someone. “This one I have beheld as in my dreams, and I pray forever my vows will be shared with you.” Even though at the time I was dating David, a man I would in time become engaged to, still I would write, “Though I walk in the light of my present love and my thoughts dwell upon him. He will have to prove a love stronger than that of my beloved.” Apparently David would not prove stronger! It was quite strange, but it was such a wonderful and powerful experience that would never leave me. In these moments of inspiration I would add, “I thank you beloved for an everlasting love no force can separate.   And for the joy of knowing that I am yours and you are mine I thank the Lord.” From that time forward I would consistently be looking for that “certain someone,” as I would designate these “dreams.” From such a mystical and romantic backdrop, now engaged to David for over two years, this very fateful weekend would began with what were called “Carry Over.” This simply meant we could be technical working Thursday and Friday, be paid for these days because they wanted to be sure we were back on the set Monday, and would not take another job. It was the way the studio had of ensuring your return, as in this case it was to continue a dancing scene when shooting resumed. Not only was it nice to know we didn’t have to call in the next workday, but getting paid for two vacation days as well. You must realize that extras do not….

(continued next month)





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