WILKES-BARRE — Have you ever wondered why Baby Boomers turned out to be such good human beings?
You can research this all you want, but the answer — the real answer — is that we watched television. Yes, the same medium that is feared today — bastion of “fake news” and all that — TV molded an entire generation. And it did a darn good job of it.
Baby Boomers had the benefit of growing up (typically) in two-parent homes where dinner was the same time every day, help was always there for homework, family and friends were close, traditions were adhered to and the simple life was alive and well.
And with this solid value system in place, we also had that wonderful outlet — television — to turn to night after night. It’s where we learned most everything we needed to know about life. And those lessons stayed with us over the years, molding us into good citizens who care about community and country and, most importantly, each other.
How could we turn out bad when we had the privilege of watching 1960s TV shows like “Leave It To Beaver,” “Ozzie and Harriet,” “Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.,” “The Addams Family,” “The Patti Duke Show,” “Bewitched,” “Beverly Hillbillies,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Hogan’s Heroes,” “The Munsters,” “Get Smart,” “Bonanza,” “Gunsmoke,” “The Rifleman,” “The Twilight Zone,” “The Brady Bunch,” “Star Trek,” “Green Acres” and many more.
We learned so much from these shows. And they happened before we were thrust into those life-altering programs like “Laugh-In,” “60 Minutes” and “All in the Family.”
Let me take you back to some golden TV moments and lines from characters embedded in our memory banks forever (source: www.thefutoncritic.com):
“And that’s the way it is.” Walter Cronkite, “CBS Evening News”
“Baby, you’re the greatest.” Ralph Kramden, “The Honeymooners”
“Book ‘em, Danno.” Steve McGarrett, “Hawaii Five-O”
“Gee, Mrs. Cleaver.” Eddie Haskell, “Leave it to Beaver”
“Here’s Johnny!” Ed McMahon, “The Tonight Show”
“Holy ______, Batman!” “Robin on Batman”
“I know nothing!” Sgt. Schultz, “Hogan’s Heroes”
“It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” Timex ad
“Live long and prosper.” Mr. Spock, “Star Trek”
“Mom always liked you best.” Tommy Smothers, “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”
“Nip it!” Barney Fife, “The Andy Griffith Show”
“Now cut that out!” Jack Benny, “The Jack Benny Program”
“Say good night, Gracie.” George Burns, “The Burns & Allen Show”
“Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!” Allen Funt, “Candid Camera”
“Sock it to me.” “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”
“Space, the final frontier.” Capt. James Kirk, “Star Trek”
“The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.” Jim McKay, “ABC’s Wide World of Sports”
“Just the facts, ma’am.” Sgt. Joe Friday, “Dragnet”
“We’ve got a really big show!” Ed Sullivan, “The Ed Sullivan Show”
“Would you believe?” Maxwell Smart, “Get Smart”
“Yabba dabba do!” Fred Flintstone, “The Flintstones”
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” President John F. Kennedy
And from TV Guide:
“This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.” “Mission: Impossible”
“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” Jan, “The Brady Bunch”
“Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!” “Adventures of Superman”
These are all magical moments not just in television, but in our lives. We sat and watched these shows and listened to those lines and we laughed, never realizing the lifelong effect each would have on the way we lived.
Those lines and so many more have been repeated time and again in all sorts of social situations. And every time, no matter how they are used, they still get a laugh. And when we hear them again and again, we are taken back to those days sitting in our living rooms with our parents watching those shows and laughing out loud.
My favorite show was — and still is — “Leave it to Beaver.” I still laugh at the antics of Wally and The Beaver, and I marvel at the parenting of Ward and June Cleaver. I thoroughly enjoy the lessons taught in episode after episode. And I always liked when that rascal Eddie Haskell would be put in his place, especially when he would realize the error of his ways.
Add to those great shows the variety programs hosted by Dean Martin, Andy Williams, Carol Burnett, Bob Hope, Flip Wilson and more and you can easily understand why the Baby Boomer generation turned out so well.
As Mr. Cronkite might say, “And that’s the way it was.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle, or email at [email protected]