Wednesday, November 1, 2023

You Tube just makes me happy

I have long been a television aficionado, and have written about my thoughts on the subject often over the years, in this very blog. There are too many posts to mention here, but for anyone who is interested, just type “television” into the search box at right to check them out.

My television viewing began at a very early age--coincidentally--both mine and that of the industry. I remember well, those black and white shows and movies as our family gathered in front of the round screen in the living room to experience what was then a brand new innovation.

I was only about three- or four-years old when my older brother Bobby and I used to visit our grandparents, just next door, to watch “Lassie,” every Sunday night at 6 o’clock. That was our time. My memories are vague about those days, but I’ve heard the stories my mother tells. She said Grandma made us snacks, often popcorn and apples, and sometimes cheese and crackers. Sometimes, there was a rare treat - iced tea and layer cake with coffee-flavored frosting.

The adults in my family always had a pot of coffee brewing. What a perfect way to use the last of what was in the pot. It was, so to speak, the icing on the cake. I don’t often bake these days, but if I make a cake, you can bet the liquid in the frosting is not milk or cream, but coffee. One taste of it, or come to think of it, the very thought of it, always brings me back to Grandma’s kitchen.

While so many details of those days in Grandma and Grandpa’s house are sketchy, I’ve seen “Lassie” many times in reruns over the years. I loved that show. There was always a lesson to be learned, family was the most important thing, and I was smitten with the way Jeff and later Timmy bonded with what I’ve always believed was the most beautiful dog I’d ever seen.

Lassie was portrayed as a hero, a friend, a loving companion, and the adult in me would have to add, well-behaved and smart.

That show has been so imprinted on me that several years ago I had the occasion to buy a Collie, one that looked just like Lassie. We named him Howie. That’s him, top right, and I swear he was the best dog I’ve ever known.

Today I’m a cat person, but if there was a sable-colored, rough-coat Collie that needed a home, the cats and I would make room without a second thought.

Watch on You Tube

“Lassie” and so many other vintage programs and videos that take me all the way back to the early days of my life can be seen on You Tube. 

 It is the latest addition to my TV addiction.

Watching You Tube videos is my go to these days when I can no longer handle all the bad news and ugly politics that fills the airwaves. I briefly touched on this subject in my most recent post, “Hey there, Hi there, Ho there,” as I related to filling the hours that used to be spent with favorite TV shows, still on hiatus due to the writers’ strike this summer.  

In addition to reliving days gone by, I have used You Tube to study instructions on how to repair this or that. I’ve sought answers to the ever-growing questions that elude me like who was that actor or what was that movie.

I’ve watched videos about the neighborhoods where I’ve lived. Pleasant memories always fill my head and my heart as I ‘travel’ to another place and time. I’ve watched countless quilting videos and learned how to knit socks.

You Tube, now owned by Google was purchased for $1.65 billion in Oct. 2006. It is the second most visited website in the world, only after Google Search, according to Wikipedia. It was founded on Valentine’s Day 2005 in San Mateo CA by Jawed Karim, Chad Hurley, and Steve Chen.

I certainly appreciate their work because today, I use You Tube to seek my own happy place and it does not disappoint.


Friday, October 27, 2023

Hey there, Hi there, Ho there…

One Friday afternoon, I was wondering what to for the weekend. My usual favorite TV shows weren’t on due to the writers’ strike this summer. I didn’t feel like a movie and had already exhausted my fill of reading and sewing, and household chores.

So I turned to You Tube.  I often turn to You Tube to satisfy curiosity, learn more about some of my favorite things, and to enjoy a little nostalgia. Generally, my ‘feed’ shows a variety of different topics. One of which, on this particular night, was a video of the original Mickey Mouse Club, a childhood favorite when I was about three.

I watched the presentation, time-traveling in my mind to my earliest days of TV viewing. My interest was peaked, so I searched for my favorite Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello. I knew she was big, page after page depicted stories, videos, interviews, songs, and movies.

I began watching everything I could find about her. There was so much content, but I settled on a serial she starred in with Tim Considine that aired on the Mickey Mouse Club in the early 50’s. It was called “Annette” and although a little hokey by today’s standards, it was also charming, innocent, and sweet. I found it to be enchanting.

I was surprised that I had zero recollection about what we might call a ‘mini series’ today, although I know I watched it. I watched the Mickey Mouse Club every day. I remember lying on my stomach in front of the television set as my mother scolded, “Don’t get so close!”

When I was five years old, I adored Annette. In fact, the picture above is of a much younger version of myself with my favorite stuffed toy that I named after her. I loved that little tiger. Perhaps that was the beginning of my cat fancy too, who knows? I carried her everywhere. Now that I think about it, I have no recollection of what ever happened to her, but I have never seen another toy like her. Believe me, I have looked.

I was not surprised at all the information about Annette on You Tube. She was the most popular Mouseketeer, hand-picked by Walt Disney who first saw her at a school dance recital. Annette was about 12 when she “got her ears.”

I learned so much about her during my viewing marathon. I realized that my adoration of her was very well-placed as she was an incredible human being who by all accounts was as sweet as the girl she portrayed in her beach movies with Frankie Avalon and in the myriad appearances she made on talk shows and interviews, and on the records she sang. She remains my idea of what a child’s role model should be.

Annette became ill in the late 1980’s. I was a busy young wife and mother at the time, so I was unaware of the struggles she went through after being diagnosed at age 50 with multiple sclerosis. I had no idea how brave and giving she was, or how much she suffered in her last years. She began the Annette Funicello Research fund for neurological diseases with the hope of finding the cause, treatment, and cure for MS. She made it the purpose of her life. While the disease made her unable to walk, eat, or speak in her last years, she never gave up the fight, nor did her devoted husband Glenn Holt.

Annette died April 8, 2013 at the age of 70. Holt died five years later.

It was an emotional weekend where I laughed; I cried. I admired this woman as a child, but not only was she a good role model for a young child, but as an adult, I found that she was even more inspiring. Life is hard for child stars, but Annette seemed to take it all in her stride.

I think about early television and how innocent it all was. But those were the times in which we lived. I’m so grateful to have experienced those years. I think when people talk about the good ole days, this is what they mean. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, of course. And I can only relate my own experience. Times were simpler, slower. There was a sense of purity and trust. I am glad that at an early age I learned to admire a person with good qualities and character, not just someone who was famous, beautiful, or rich, although Annette was all of those things.

My marathon was filled with emotion, but isn’t that what life is all about?


Thursday, August 31, 2023

US DOT Secretary visits Gary/Chicago International Airport

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg returned to his Indiana roots Wednesday to visit the Gary/Chicago International Airport where he remarked about the future of the facility. 

This is music to my ears, as I've been an advocate of the Gary airport for the past 30 years. I've long felt that it just makes sense to improve an existing airport in an urban area close to Chicago, rather than build a brand new airport far, far away from where anyone wants to go.

Oh, I know, the State of Illinois' latest iteration of Chicago's Third Airport is to settle for a cargo airport at Peotone, rather than the sprawling 7-square-mile rival to O'Hare International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, which is what they really wanted. 

Illinois' flawed plan for a simply wrong-headed project has never received the support necessary, financial or otherwise, to actually lift the thing off the ground. 

I remember when studies were performed back in the 1990's in search of a perfect location; there was a no-build option for the project, but only for a short time. It was never taken seriously by airport advocates, so they simply dismissed it. 

A long, long time ago

The project was actually first proposed in 1968 by three area chambers of commerce but accomplished little. It was resurrected in 1985, in the Illinois legislature as a means to bring economic vitality to the south suburbs. 

A small contingency of south suburban officials are all that ever really took the project seriously. Even the airlines balked at a new airport. And despite millions of dollars spent trying to make it happen, there has never been a proven need for it.

That isn't for a lack of trying however. Illinois transportation officials and south suburban leaders would try anything to bring back the economically-depressed southern suburbs, trying everything to get the airport to fly. They made it central in planning discussions, proposed economic opportunities with the airport front and center. But they never really looked at what was necessary in the corn, soy, and wheat fields, along the tar and chip roads, and working farm economy of eastern Will County.

Conversely, the Gary/Chicago Airport has enjoyed support of presidents, mayors, governors, and members of the public who recognized a real need to revitalize this airport and this region of the country. For many years, the State of Indiana and City of Chicago have been doing just that. 

Now, add the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and the Biden-Harris Administration to offer their support as well. 

"And I want to lift up the story of Gary because this is a community that kept the fires lit, that literally kept the furnaces going to supply the tens of thousands - tens of millions - of tons of steel that this country needed…" Buttigieg said, likening the viability of the airport to the once-heralded steel industry that actually built the region. 

He added that the federal government wants to make sure that there will be boom times again. 

"We've made new investments to build that heavy air cargo apron and logistics center here at Gary/Chicago Airport," Buttigieg added.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Gary’s airport received a total of $8 million in federal community project funds in 2022 and 2023, with the money going toward a specialized fire truck, snow removal equipment, a heavy air cargo logistics apron and a new sanitary sewer for the cargo center. The airport has requested another $3.5 million in federal funds for 2024, which would help further expand its cargo operations, airport executive director Dan Vicari said.

When I first learned that Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana was named Transportation Secretary, and that President Joe Biden got a sweeping infrastructure bill through the Congress and signed it into law, I wondered how this would affect the third airport debacle. 

This is what I had hoped, that funds would flow to Gary which has been steadfast in its quest to serve the aviation needs in the region. So far, the federal government barely recognizes the Peotone project.

Peotone does not now nor has it ever had aviation needs. And it is time to pull the plug on the project.