Antenna TV shows old-fashioned romance
By Patsy Pridgen
Sunday, February 18, 2018
I recently spent a weekend in a condominium with no cable TV. We had televisions, two of them, but only a limited number of channels, brought to us by a small antenna device that sat alongside each set. Lacking an abundance of channels, I found myself watching something called MeTV, which features old sitcoms.
Perhaps in a nod to Valentine’s Day, both the “Andy Griffith Show” and “Leave It to Beaver” showed episodes related to romance. Wholesome, funny situations that made me nostalgic for a time when manners, chivalry, and propriety – along with feminine wiles – were considered to be part of a courtship.
For example, in the “Leave It to Beaver” episode, chivalrous Wally has been outfoxed by a girl to whom he lent his sweater. She hasn’t borrowed his sweater because she is cold; rather, she starts wearing it around town, implying she’s now Wally’s girlfriend. The feeling isn’t mutual, however, and Wally, accompanied by Beaver and Eddie Haskell, rings her doorbell and politely asks for his sweater.
This episode reminded me of my high school days when couples would show they were “going steady” by the girl wearing the guy’s class ring. Even before this, the first sign of romance was a boy carrying a girl’s books for her in the hallway between classes.
Later in the “Leave It to Beaver” episode, Wally’s aspiring girlfriend has the audacity to call him at home. Ward Cleaver answers the one telephone in the house and summons a reluctant Wally, who politely tells this persistent female that he would appreciate it if she didn’t call him on his parents’ phone. Ward and June nod their approval. After all, what kind of girl would phone a boy? The rule was the male called the female. And of course, the boy was always the one who asked for a date.
The peril of romance was also the theme of my episode of “The Andy Griffith Show.” A good ol’ boy farmer comes to town to get himself a wife. It’s a mission he thinks can be accomplished by just standing on the corner of Main Street in Mayberry and picking out somebody he likes. Barney and Andy try to explain to him that women have to be courted, a process that takes much longer than a day or two. Of course, as luck would have it, the farmer spies Thelma Lou, Barney’s girl, and decides she’s the one for him.
When Barney protests, the farmer asks, “Are you engaged?” When Barney says no, the man declares Thelma Lou to be on the market. I can remember these days when most people assumed a serious courtship led to marriage, not some kind of long-term relationship without a legal commitment.
Despite Barney’s lack of commitment, though, Thelma Lou, not wanting to live on a farm, cleverly discourages the rough-as-a-cob farmer. She asks him to a tea and finger sandwich supper. That does it for him. He doesn’t want to become citified and hightails it back to the farm.
Ah, romance the way it was once portrayed on television. Sweet, polite, a gentle battle of the sexes.