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The Darnedest Things May 27, 2010

Posted by Bill in Memories, Personal, Television, Uncategorized.

Hearing of Art Linkletter’s death brought a smile to my face, not, of course, because he was dead, but because I was reminded of when I used to watch House Party with my babysitter. Art Linkletter ranks right up there with Captain Kangaroo and Underdog as being this then five-year-old’s favorite TV personalities. (Fred Flintstone would have made the list except I wasn’t allowed to watch him since one of the Flintstones episodes gave me a nightmare. You know the one– it was when Fred was on jury duty and voted to convict the accused, and the guy ran around saying, “Fred Flintstone I’m gonna get you!” I woke up screaming with that guy’s words reverberating in my head and wasn’t allowed to watch the show for a couple of years.)

I was the youngest of four girls, but my situation was somewhat unusual at the time in that my sisters were all two years apart, but there was a four-year gap between my youngest older sister and me. Nowadays a four-year gap between siblings is fairly common but in those days of stairstep kids, the four-year gap was almost enough to catapult me into a different family. My sisters all remember a different house, different friends and a different baby sitter. Their babysitter was Auntie Love, a wonderful woman who adopted our family and became our honorary grandmother. Because she took care of my sisters before I was born, I only remember her from visits my family made to her house once or twice a year. I always enjoyed the visits and I liked her, but she wasn’t MY babysitter.

My family moved to Lafayette, Indiana, when I was not quite a year old. My dad went back to Purdue to work on his Masters and my mother got a job teaching school. My first babysitter was Mrs. Becker, who came into our home every day to take care of me and my sisters once they got home from school. I barely remember her, but I’m sure I liked her. However, it is Mrs. Lemond who I really remember as MY babysitter.

Mrs. Lemond was only my sitter for one year- the year I went to Kindergarten. She was a widow who lived catty-corner across the street from us. Every morning my sisters and I would stop by her house and drop off my after-school clothes and a toy or two. I would then go on to morning Kindergarten and be delivered back at Mrs. Lemond’s house by the school safety patrol in time for Lunchtime Theater and a nap. When I woke up from the nap, I would watch Captain Kangaroo. Then I had to sit through Merv Griffin (yuck!) and Mike Douglas (double yuck!) and then Art Linkletter would come on. Him I liked.

Mrs. Lemond was a quiet woman, but she introduced me to a lot of things during that one year she was my babysitter. She had a huge old evergreen tree in her backyard, and I used to enjoy going out and hiding under the branches, pretending it was a house. She had a big old pool table in her TV room, and I liked rolling the balls around on the table and trying to roll them into the holes. She introduced me to Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls, which she would buy me when she and I would drive to a nearby drugstore. She also unwittingly introduced me to the concept of a Mental Health Day.  One morning to my sisters’ surprise when we stopped by Mrs. Lemond’s house to drop off my stuff, I announced that I didn’t feel like going to school that day. Even more surprisingly Mrs. Lemond merely said, “Okay,” and I stayed with her all day, guiltily enjoying the morning game shows and reruns of Dick Van Dyke. When my dad got home that night he was not amused, and he immediately tromped over to Mrs. Lemond’s house to let her know that allowing me to play hooky was NOT acceptable.

Some of my best memories of Mrs. Lemond were from when she and I would watch Art Linkletter together. I liked his gentle manner, and I loved when he would interview the kids. Being a kid myself, I didn’t understand why people laughed at their answers because they seemed like perfectly reasonable answers to me. But what I really liked was the toys he handed out to the kids at the end. I would have loved to have gone on his show– what could be better? Sit in a chair, talk to a nice old man and get a brand new shiny toy? Pure nirvana to a five-year-old!

So hearing of Art Linkletter’s death reminded me of that kindergarten year with Mrs. Lemond, when life followed a predictable pattern, and excitement was driving to the drug store once a week and getting a Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll. Mrs. Lemond died many years ago, but both she and Art Linkletter will continue to occupy a special place in my memory and in my heart. When I was five years old I loved them both, and earning the love of a five-year-old is not a bad thing at all.



1. blotchesofcolors - May 27, 2010

very well written…I can almost imagine Mrs. Lemond- a small, pleasant lady smiling down on you from heaven. Its a shame how nowadays most babysitter are young high school student who don’t really care about teaching children a thing or two about the real world…well, as long as they make sure the children aren’t hurt or dead, its fine.. 🙂

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