In junior high and high school, my sister and I were latchkey kids. That was back in the day when kids stayed at home, without adult supervision and no one thought anything of it. After-school care and year round day care were nonexistent. We lived in the Sherry Park Apartments in Arlington, Texas in 1970, when they were nice and not a slum.
Mom was a single parent who worked in Dallas. The suburbs were safe and affordable on her meager 1970 income. She left us strict instructions to stay out of the field behind the apartments, do not ride our bikes in the cement drainage ditch between the apartments and the field, and DO NOT go into the apartment complex next door, L ’Atriums.
The best bike riding was in that ditch, and the best exploring was in the glamorous apartment complex with their atrium apartments.
In the heat of the day, however, I stayed inside on the couch, with the air conditioner, and the little TV. Every day I watched reruns of “Gilligan’s Island,” “I Dream of Jeanie,” “the Addams Family,” “the Musters,” and Slam Bang Theater with Icky Twerp.
My favorites, though, were two soap operas: “All My Children” and the creepy “Dark Shadow.”
Every summer, every vacation day, I had to watch “All My Children.” Erica Cane was just a few years older than I was, but one hundred times more troublesome for her long-suffering mother. I rode my Schwinn in the ditch and went to the forbidden apartment complex, but I never stole anyone’s husband.
The worst thing that happened in 1972 was the Watergate hearings. Not that there was a national crisis, but they commandeered the TV and I missed my story! The nerve!
I was addicted.
To my delight, when I got to college, I was able to arrange my classes around All My Children. I found other girls with the same addiction and we ate lunch and watched AMC together, always a few minutes late for the class at 12:00 because our story didn’t end until 12:00. Heaven forbid I miss the cliffhanger!
The villain in the show was the very rich and powerful Palmer Cortlandt, whose mansion was named Cortlandt Manor. He was so manipulative! Such a mean man. When you have lots of money, you’re just flat out mean.
In 1989, I was pregnant the same time as my favorite character, Dixie. She went into labor on Thursday. I was scheduled for a C-section the following day, and as luck would have it, I had my baby and was in my room watching Dixie’s horribly dramatic emergency C-section. I stayed in the hospital over the weekend, and Monday, she was still having the dramatic emergency C-section. I went home Tuesday, but I was too busy to keep with Dixie and JR.
I was an obsessive first time mom and my whole life revolved around my baby. When he was about 18 months old and taking his first tentative steps, I returned to Pine Valley to resume feeding my addiction.
JR, the baby who was born about the same time my baby was, was suddenly five years old. Pine Valley must have magical water!
It wasn’t that the writers played fast and loose with time, or marriages, or relationships in general that bothered me. I didn’t want my son watching this show because I didn’t want him getting the idea that all women wear beautiful lingerie and perfect makeup all of the time. That fantasy was where I drew the line. I mean really! Perfectly matching gowns, negligees, and never-smudge mascara. My twenty-year addiction died.
Today I processed an order for a customer in the town of Courtlandt Manor, New York, which sent me on a little mental vacation. Could Palmer Courtlandt actually transcend the space-time continuum and grow his house into an entire town where children grow up super-fast and Susan Lucci never ages? I want to go there, drink the water, and see if anything happens. At least I can go to the Home Depot and buy Brazilian tile from Texas from a woman who never figured out beautiful lingerie.
Having a wonderful time! Wish you were here.