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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Fame Doesn't Always Jump Generations

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Did you watch the Jerry Lewis Telethon on Labor Day? We get many requests to help out financially for dozens of good causes. But somehow the Jerry Lewis Telethon has always been something we were interested in.

I remember the first Labor Day holiday after Lester was appointed to the Savannah United Methodist Church up north of St. Joseph. It was the first time we had moved and left a child behind. We did not only leave a child behind, we left three children and one grandchild behind. Susan was the only one who moved with us. School had not started yet on Labor Day and she had met only the other kids in the church and they were all having Labor Day activities with their families. So we were celebrating all by ourselves in the new town.

For the first time we now had a fireplace. Since it was rainy and cool that day Lester built a fire in the fireplace and we had a living room picnic on the floor, cooking wieners in the fireplace while we were watching the telethon. That has always remained a special memory for Susan and me, and watching TV became a holiday practice.

Somehow, along the way, we became too busy with not only more grandchildren, but great-grandchildren, and there usually was a lot going on besides the TV.

This year after some of our company left, I turned on the TV for old times' sake and watched the aged Jerry Lewis try to sing. Marilyn, our resident great-granddaughter, came in and asked, "What on earth are you watching?" When I told her what it was, she responded with, "Well what's a telethon anyway?"

I gave her a short history of this particular fund-raiser and reminded her that we had put some money in the firemen's boots the day before. She hadn't known what the money was for and then asked who this Jerry Lewis was.

When I told her that he had been a famous comedian when I was in college and that he and Dean Martin had been a team, she was unimpressed because she didn't know who Dean Martin was and couldn't see anything funny in this old man. However she did get caught up in some of the stories and ended up understanding the appeal of the telethon and the importance of the need for financial help. She said she had wondered a little about the firemen and their boots asking for money but thought it was something like ringing the bells for the Salvation Army at Christmas and hadn't asked.

It seems such a short time ago that Susan and I had our lonely wiener roast in front of the show, that I couldn't realize that this later teenager who was spending the remainder of Labor Day with just "us old folks" had never known about the telethon which has become such a tradition that the firemen don't see the need to publicize what they are collecting for.

When I told her that she had probably seen Dean Martin in those commercials about the DVDs of his famous roasts, she said she never paid any attention to those and, "what is a roast anyway?"

I'll have to admit that I don't recognize the names of many of the singers she likes. In fact I don't even think that many of them are really singing music, so I guess it is understandable that this child of the 2000s is unimpressed with those who were famous "back when." But it does seem like she has missed out on something special.

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus