Answer: Getting a 3-D effect (waaay before 3-D televisions) with me dancing in front of your screen!
Aunt Mary’s favorite television program was The Lawrence Welk Show, sponsored by Geritol. I always needed an audience. Just like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, a perfect combination was formed.
As soon as the bubble machine began, Lawrence started his orchestra’s Champaign Music with ‘ah one and ah two and ah’. I treated Aunt Mary to my semi-professional side performance. She considered it her price to pay for television time.
Dad had a wooden cane and white straw hat from Purina Checkerboard, perfect for soft-shoe tapping. I could out-dance any partner Bobby Burgess had, although I preferred to be a soloist.Occasionally I was forced to dance directly in front of the television when Aunt Mary wasn’t attentive enough. She learned to compliment me frequently so I’d stay out of her viewing area. Aunt Mary couldn’t decide whether she loved my improvised tap or ballet best.
The Lennon Sisters (Dianne, Peggy, Kathy, and Janet) had been appearing on Lawrence Welk since I was five. Back on Dean Road, I had a paper-doll set of the sisters. My favorite was Dianne, and Mom’s was Peggy. I was too jealous of Janet, the youngest Lennon and only four years older than me, to let her be my favorite.
Aunt Mary liked the Lennon Sisters, but her favorite act on Lawrence Welk was Jo Ann Castle’s honky-tonk piano. I enjoyed Jo Ann’s music, but didn’t like her silly facial expressions while playing.
Whether singing, dancing, or performing athletic feats, I truly believed my audience heard or viewed the same spectacular vision of me existing in my mind. My dancing and gymnastics (slightly above mediocre) weren’t too bad. But when it came to my singing, an extremely large quantity of imagination was required. Unfortunately, my audience’s imagination failed to reach the staggering heights of my own.
My antics were normal for a child under the age of ten; I was fourteen.
Lesson learned: Give your children plenty of singing and dancing lessons. And give your Great-Aunt Mary her own television set.
Now it’s your turn: How did you entertain your relatives?
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