Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Proper Education

Time: 1965
Place: Chattanooga, TN

I was in the third grade and the teacher was teaching us about our country’s connection to England.

“There is an excellent program about England on TV this week,” she said. “I won’t make it a class assignment, but you really should try and see it.”

That night, I told Dad that I wanted to watch the show about England. He looked it up in the TV guide.

“It comes on after your bedtime,” he said. “You don’t need to be staying up that late to learn about England.”

A week later, Dad noticed that there was going to be special about early comedy featuring lots of old black and white shorts. The show included films with W.C. Fields, Harold Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton and others.

“You have to watch this,” Dad said.

“Oh boy,” I said (or something equally enthusiastic). “When does it come on?”

Dad studied the TV guide for the specifics. Back in those days, that’s how you found out what was on TV.

“Well,” Dad said, “it comes on after your bedtime.”

Darn, I thought (or something equally distraught). I won’t be able to watch it.

“Tell you what,” Dad said. “”Go on to bed at your regular time and I’ll come wake you up when it comes on.”

I didn’t bring up the fact that Dad could have done the same thing for me to see the program about England and actually learn some world history. No. Comedy history trumped world history every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

The night came for the comedy special and I went to bed at my regular bedtime. I must have played extra hard after school because I immediately fell into a deep sleep. When Dad came to wake me up to watch W.C., Stan, Oliver, and the rest of the comedy giants, I refused.

“I’m too tired,” I whined. “I’m going to skip it and keep sleeping.”

“Come on,” Dad insisted. “You can’t miss this.”

He dragged me out of bed, marched me down the hallway, and sat me down on the couch in front of the TV. I could barely keep my eyes open and I was grumpy, but I sat there and watched that program. I have to admit, it was great stuff. Of course, it was great stuff. By the first commercial break, I was awake enough to enjoy the show.

Nothing against England, but knowing humor has been much more helpful in my life than knowing about England.

(image from legends revealed)

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