Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Leave it to Birdy



I had to smile listening to my 11 year old daughter laugh while watching Season One of “Leave it to Beaver”, the original classic television show starring Jerry Mathers, as the Beaver. She’s hooked. I was too as a kid. Eddie Haskell’s monologues and digs remind of a child I know at my kids’ school. The themes in this show are as timeless as human nature. Birdy likes this show…No wonder at all. She’s my “lemonade stand” kid.
I asked Birdy what some of her favorite dialogues were from the show. She just loves the main character. He is sweet. Beaver is the epitome of 'purity of thought' in childhood. Come to think of it Theodore Cleaver reminds me a lot of my 11 year old. Beaver’s formal name is Theodore. Birdy’s name is Bridget (but we call her The Bird). One of the first episodes features some kids teasing Theodore when he goes to school about his nickname and they asked him who named him “Beaver”. In his little boy voice, he replied “yeah…my brother Wally named me that and it kinda stuck.”
No one is more hilarious than Eddie Haskell’s multiple brown-nosing comments to Mrs. Cleaver “Hello Mrs. Cleaver, you look lovely today. Your hair is particularly beautiful. Where do you get it done?” and in the same breath he punches Beaver in the stomach and mutters under his breath “Scram dog breath or get lost in traffic you little squirt!"

Birdy has her own ‘Eddie Haskell’ at school; a real ‘chumster‘ who also happens to be equally charming whenever I visit the school. What would the world be without the Eddie Haskell’s, the Lumpys, Whiteys, Tooeys, Chesters and Larry Mondellos…Everyone knows a Larry Mondello….Moreover, where would we be without the moral dilemmas of the Cleaver clan. Any fan of the series will remember great episodes like Captain Jack, Beaver gets ‘spelled, Water anyone, Wally’s girl trouble, New neighbors, and the all-time great “The Haircut” and “Short pants”. The series spanned 234 episodes…I readily admit that I never get tired of watching them, aw shucks.

June and Ward Cleaver are a sociological study all by themselves. The show’s repetitive moral messages would stand up easily today: obey/trust your parents, tell the truth, develop self-esteem, have pride in your family, help (or don't hurt) others, and accept responsibility for your actions. The parenting techniques incorporated in the series writing were right out of Dr. Spock’s “Baby & Child Care” handbook. The show was completely built around the importance of family, occupation, marriage and education. Ward wasn’t the only family sage. Wally had his words of wisdom for his little brother occasionally. One of my favorites was the following Wally speech from the episode, “Miss Landers’ Fiance”: Said to Beaver in a serious tone…while folding his sweater carefully on his bed.

“In a couple of years, you'll go to high school, and then you'll go to college and meet a whole bunch of girls. You'll probably marry one. Then you'll have a whole bunch of kids and a job and everything.”

Wally was master and commander of great words like "stuff, neat, gee whiz, golly, scram" words that definitely need to be resurrected and soon.

However, nothing could be as eloquent as Beaver’s ad in the paper for a dog he found:

I found a dog. The dog is brownish with no hair. I got the dog from my friend Larry but it was not his because Whitey found him in his garbage pail. If the dog you lost is the one I found, I'm the one who found it. Signed Beaver Cleaver

As we watch for the rest of the series to be released on DVD, I am sure Birdy will be watching much more of 'Leave it Beaver'…because so much of it smacks right in the middle of her 11 year old chops. The nice thing is that it is completely predictable. Ward is always home on time for dinner. Dinner is always on the table. Ward and June always agree. June is perfectly coiffed , Ward always wears his tie to work, the boys manage to get their homework done, their prayers said and their teeth brushed and the Cleavers will always come out on top, no matter what, because they have each other. Finally, kids will be kids forever and the toils and struggles of kids are what make adults. Thank God for that.

Tammy Maher is resident of El Dorado Hills and biweekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat. You can reach her by email at familyfare@scbglobal.net or on the web at www.familyfare.blogspot.com

1 comment:

tom mcgowan said...

And as you may well know, 'Leave It To Beaver', to this day still holds the record for the nastiest and vulgar line ever, ever, uttered on television!

Of course this was back in the day when censors or five second delays were not needed. But they sneaked the line in anyway!