Thursday, May 6, 2010

Watching TV With Grandpop Salvo: “Lawrence Welk”

I have some great TV memories from growing up during the late 70s and early 80s: CHiPs, Fantasy Island, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Incredible Hulk, so many great shows on during that time. But there’s one show that I would catch during those days, that I never thought would pique my interest some 30 years later…

I remember many times, especially on weekends, our TV’s being tuned into a little musical program known as………. “The Lawrence Welk Show”. I would watch in confusion as my Grandpop Salvo sat and absorbed this program, usually his one leg crossed over the other, and the upper foot tapping mildly in the air to the beat of the songs. During my time of these memories, disco music was on its way out, and pop music (later just to be known at “80’s music”) was quickly rolling in. But none of the songs I was hearing on the radio ever seemed to make it to this program- and even weirder, the women always seemed to be wearing these draping, heavenly-like gowns. It didn’t matter what song was being sung, or which singer was singing it. They were all dressed the same way, and the style of dress that they were wearing I never seemed to see worn anywhere else in my life.

Grandpop always liked watching that show, but after he passed in 1982, it’s sad to say that I don’t remember seeing that program on as much on our TV’s. I’m sure my mother watched it on occasion, but the number of times that it would be on in our home after that year definitely diminished.

That time in my life, and especially that show, prompted an ongoing joke for my sister and I. If someone ever made mention of Lawrence Welk, we would (and still do today) be quick to shout out, “CUE THE BUBBLES!!!”

It wasn’t until I got older that I would fully understand why Grandpop Salvo enjoyed that program as much as he did: The music was light, yet happy. The singers weren’t being chased every day by People and Star magazines, their personal lives to be exploited to no end. There were familiar instruments in the program’s requiem, specifically accordions and clarinets. And most of all, the audience was always of a “more mature” age bracket, still smiling and enjoying life. Welk’s mode of operation was simple, and it worked out perfectly. He was able to target people who lived their lives just as simply, one being my grandfather.

This past weekend, a special program aired on MPT titled “Lawrence Welk – Milestones and Memories”. I had to sit and watch it. Not for the music, and not to see how much the original cast members had aged... But for Grandpop Salvo. I could almost see his foot happily tapping once again..

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