I watched The Lawrence Welk Show with my parents when TV’s still had legs and a knob to walk up to. (Insert loud Godzilla sounds and gnashing teeth here.) My brothers and I used to annoy my father by twisting the channel dial as if we were trying to spin a top. Tickticktick. Tickticktick. I’m not so sure what we were hoping to accomplish with the speed of the rotation with only three channels at our disposal, but we made it our job.I think this may have increased my father’s smoking at the time. His Marlboro’s were on the maroon velvet arm rest, with the orange plastic ashtray balanced carefully on the wooden edge extension. When I was 6th grade and he was in the midst of quitting, my mother often came down stairs in her nightgown and stood at the living room door sniffing, eyes in a squint.
But I digress. The Lawrence Welk Show was quiet time. Just out of the bath time. Family time without vocabulary to define it as such. The Johnson and Johnson’s baby shampoo scent sprang from my brushed-out hair like the potted lilies we had in the kitchen at Easter. When I wasn’t getting my hair coiled in pin curls, I was lying on the scratchy carpet and letting out a once a year scream when I saw a silver millipede scuttle across the room. “It came from the cellar!” I would scream and felt even more reasons to love my footie pajamas.
By the time I was in high school, my parents would be in the kitchen instead of in front of the TV. Pots slid over the electric burners, tea cups hit saucers and spoons caressed the edges of porcelain cups. Their voices were a quiet murmur. I would fall asleep on the sofa. Lawrence Welk on the TV. I feigned indifference to dinner, to the TV as I felt the blanket over the back of the couch get pulled over on me.
I can’t ever remember a time when Lawrence Welk was not on my parents TV. It has been on forever. Even now in 2011, I can still walk into their house and watch an old episode. It’s usually part of some PBS telethon and my mother will take a moment to shush me when I’m in the middle of talking over a Lennon Sisters number. She still says’ Champagne Lady’ in a tone like she’s referring to someone from the Royal Family. She can tell me which Welk Show artists are dead, divorced, remarried, and whose off-spring has gone into the business. All with a little sigh like she’s telling me- look what time did. I can hardly keep track. I only remember Lawrence, Joe Feeney, Myron the accordion guy, the Lennon Sisters, the Champagne Lady and the guy who inspired me to take Tap Dance. Who can forget the mustard polyester, powder blue floor length gowns and Geritol?
I realized when I had the bubonic plague last year, and lay dying on my couch alone, I stumbled across The Lawrence Welk Show. I said Ohmygod out loud and put the volume at the perfect level for someone suffering and fell deep into a comforting sleep.
It’s like I could still hear the dishes, the spoons swirling. The murmuring.
(special thanks to tvcollector71 on youtube from whom I borrowed this link. Check out his other great LWS clips.)