A calmer, gentler time


The first thing just about every single morning you’ll find me on the elliptical in my basement, putting in 20 to 30 minutes to get myself moving and my heart pumping. It’s what I do before I have a chance to give it much thought so I can put it off until that elusive “later.”

It’s really not such an awful task, especially since there’s a television there for me. Sometimes I watch one of the morning network news shows, but our news is getting so bad lately that I’ve almost given up on them. I used to try and switch the channels among the three networks when commercials came on. It must be that they’re on to me, though, because I find that now all the commercials are on the same schedule.

So now Wally and the Beaver keep me company. If you’re a Baby Boomer like me, while you were growing up you watched the series “Leave It to Beaver,” which aired from 1957 till 1963. Watching it now I see how wholesome and innocent life was then for the Cleaver family –and all of us– when compared to the declining morals, violence, and division in our culture today.

Too much of our television schedule now reflects that, in my opinion.

That’s not the way it is when I spend my early mornings with reruns of “Leave It to Beaver,” where the plot lines for the family-oriented series center around simple issues that crop up, develop into some kind of angst, and are resolved to the family’s satisfaction in one thirty-minute episode.

Generally, everyone ends up at the end of the episode happy and smiling after dealing with wholesome problems that center around school, friends, family, and such thorny issues such as Beaver’s reluctance to attend a birthday party for a girl in his first-grade class when he realizes all the other guests are girls.

It helps that their dad, Ward, dispenses patient words of wisdom at every turn. Mom June , who does her housework wearing a dress and pearls every day, always lets Ward handle situations with the boys.

The Cleaver family lives in suburban Mayfield, and as I pedal away each morning I wonder if their home and comfortable lifestyle accurately portrayed life as it was for very many 1950s families. It sure doesn’t look anything like the Iowa farmhouse where I grew up. Why, Wally and the Beaver had their own bathroom adjoining the bedroom they shared.

Aside from nostalgia I find in the series, another thing I like about watching Beaver and his family each morning is the number of commercials. Those half-hour sitcoms featured just two commercials per half-hour. Now, unfortunately, three is the norm.

I appreciate the Cleavers keeping me company each morning, reminding me of gentler times.