Thanksgiving, Uncle Miltie, and Me
While attending Barnard College in New York during the fall of 1949, I began to suffer a bit of depression, especially as Thanksgiving approached. This would be the first holiday I spent away from family and friends. Homesick and lonely, I looked forward to a trip to Brooklyn to visit some distant relatives I had never met.
With visions of sparkling conversation and a delicious turkey dinner dancing in my head, I took my first ride on the subway from New York to Brooklyn – which turned out to be my second favorite trip of all time. My first involved going to the doctor’s office for a tonsillectomy. Still, I felt optimistic about meeting new relatives.
Standing at the doorway with snow swirling around me, I eagerly rang the bell. No one answered, but I could hear voices inside. I rang the bell three or four more times. Then I knocked rather loudly on the door. Finally a smiling cousin who was three, four or five times removed opened the door and apologized matter-of-factly for the delay by explaining, “We were watching Uncle Miltie.”
Thinking Miltie might be an ailing relative, I replied, “I hope he’s feeling better now.” How was I to know he was referring to the Milton Berle Show? After all, television remained untapped then as family entertainment back in Pueblo, Colorado. We were still “movie people.”
Walking into the cozy living room, I made my way through a group of individuals huddled around a small box with a screen showing figures moving around in what looked like the same kind of snow falling outside. “Hi!” I called out in my most cheerful voice. They all nodded and kept watching their new toy.
Needless to say, I didn’t get well acquainted with my distant relatives on that Thanksgiving Day. But what an introduction to television! We watched every program scheduled that afternoon and on into the evening. Much later, a cold turkey dinner was served – on TV trays, of course. I am now a vegetarian.
(Excerpt from CONFESSIONS OF A MOVIE ADDICT, published by Wheatmark.)