Spin Again Sunday: The Senior Prom Game (Circa 1950s)

senior prom box

Senior Prom–the game for girls whose parents were too cheap to spring for Barbie’s Queen of the Prom game.

In this week’s installment of Spin Again Sunday, we’re going to experience “all the thrills of a social season”–or at least as many of those thrills as a poorly made board game can provide.

This Week’s Game: The Senior Prom Game.

Copyright Date: Unknown, but the game appears to date from the 1950s.

Manufacturer: Warren Paper Products Company of Lafayette, Indiana. The company used the designation “Built-Rite” on their games (and jigsaw puzzles). If this game is any indication, they used the label ironically.

Object: To attain the status of prom queen.

Recommended Ages: 7 to 12.

Game Board: Actually, “board” is a bit of an overstatement for what is a flimsy piece of cardboard. In an unusual move, the manufacturers printed the game directions right on the board. I’m sure they did this to save money, but it does eliminate the possibility of losing the directions.

senior prom board

Game Box: The graphics are cute, with prom-goers depicted against a star-filled sky. The fact that the box brags about the “Large 15 x 18 Playing Board” may be be a hint that there’s not much here to brag about.

I can see why this would be worth a 6-space movement. Why would a "T.V. idol" be at your sock hop?

I can see why this would be worth a 6-space movement. Why would a “T.V. idol” be at your sock hop?

Game Markers: Square pieces of cardboard folded and inserted into round pieces of cardboard. These are supposed to represent crowns. Uh-huh.

Crowns? Really?

Crowns? Really?

Other Game Pieces: The colorful spinner has a metal arrow. Players try to collect cardboard circles marked with the words Date, Formal, Grades, or Dance.

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The cards players must collect.

Game Play: Players move along the board and try to collect the cardboard circles mentioned above. (I give the manufacturers credit for making good grades a pre-requisite for prom queen coronation.) With those cardboard circles in hand, a player can move to the inside track and try to land on a “Selected Candidate for Prom Queen” space. Each candidate places her marker on a numbered star; the first to make it that far and spin the number that matches her star space wins.

You can see more Warren “Built-Rite” games at the very cool Board Game Geek web site.

Other Spin Again Sunday posts you might enjoy:

What Shall I Be? (1972)

Barbie Miss Lively Livin’ (1970)

The Bride Game (1971)

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Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 2, Episode 8, “The Toy Box,” 11/6/1967

Written by: Arthur Marx. Directed by: Charles Barton.

As we open, Bill is getting cozy with his latest squeeze in the Davis living room, when Cissy’s date for the evening shows up.

Oh, dear.

Oh, dear.

The boy’s appearance startles Bill, who is even more surprised to see what Cissy is wearing.

Personally, I think she looks cute--like a Twist n Turn Barbie.

Personally, I think she looks cute–like a Twist n Turn Barbie.

Bill, however, has a different reaction.

Bill, however, has a different reaction.

Coming home from work the next day, Bill confronts another parenting challenge. It seems the twins have been leaving their toys strewn about the house.

Like Jody's skateboard, for instance.

Like Jody’s skateboard, for instance.

Bill decides to institute a system he encountered in the Army–the “slob box.” Toys that aren’t put away will be confiscated, put in a box, and donated to charity.

The box starts filling up pretty quickly. (That toy stove is cute.)

The box starts filling up pretty quickly. (That toy stove is cute.)

Meanwhile, Bill shows Cissy a magazine picture of his girlfriend, a top model, and talks obliquely about the Japanese principle of shibui, or simple elegance.

Cissy is appropriately mystified.

Cissy is appropriately mystified.

After staring at the magazine picture for a while, though, she seems to get the point.

Uncle Bill wants her to dress more like a middle-aged woman!

Uncle Bill wants her to dress more like a middle-aged woman!

Ever compliant, Cissy asks French to help her lengthen her skirts. Uncle Bill is thrilled with her new attitude and even asks his girlfriend to take Cissy shopping for new clothes, presumably of the matronly variety. (Bill’s obsession with Cissy’s wardrobe started to seem a little weird around this point.)

Fully believing that Cissy has come to her senses, Bill returns home from work to this debauchery:

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Honestly, it is pretty shocking.

Taken aback, Bill is curt to the point of rudeness with Cissy’s friends.

I'm not sure why he's so upset about Cissy's dress. It's the boys' outfits that are truly disturbing.

I’m not sure why he’s so upset about Cissy’s dress. It’s the boys’ outfits that are truly disturbing.

After her friends leave, Cissy calls Uncle Bill out for judging them unfairly.

He admits that he tries never to judge people by appearances and apologizes for having done so. I'm glad--I wouldn't want to lose respect for Uncle Bill. (By the way, that mural in his bedroom is really something, isn't it?)

He admits that he usually tries to avoid judging people by appearances and apologizes for having done so. What a relief–I wouldn’t want to lose respect for Uncle Bill. (By the way, that mural in his bedroom is really something, isn’t it?)

He does make Cissy to wear non-mod clothes every now and then, though.

Meanwhile, the twins have lost so many toys to the box that they're actually turning to books for entertainment.

Meanwhile, the twins have lost so many toys to the box that they’re actually turning to books for entertainment.

Well, at least Buffy still has Mrs. Beasley.

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The next day, she is having a bridge party with her doll, when French calls the kids to wash up for dinner.

As they scramble, the twins accidentally brush against Mrs. Beasley.

Nooooooooooo!

Nooooooooooo!

When French finds the doll on the floor, he appreciates enormity of this moment.

To his credit, his first instinct is to sneak the doll back onto the chair, but he's interrupted by Bill and the kids entering the room.

To his credit, his first instinct is to sneak the doll back onto the chair, but he’s interrupted by Bill and the kids entering the room.

It’s all up to Bill now–is Mrs. Beasley a goner?

To Buffy's relief, Bill decides that the toy box has outlived its usefulness.

To Buffy’s relief, Bill decides that the toy box has outlived its usefulness.

From now on, he will just count on the twins to remember to pick up their toys. (As a parent, I am absolutely sure that this approach will work.)

Commentary

This is a rather slight episode, but the mod scenes make it entertaining.

Guest Cast

Joan Wilson: Cay Forester. Ronny: Dennis Olivieri.

Dennis Olivieri worked steadily throughout the sixties on television, sometimes under the name Dennis Joel. He had a regular role on an interesting-sounding 1969 series called The New People.

Dennis Olivieri worked steadily throughout the sixties on television, sometimes under the name Dennis Joel. He had a regular role on an interesting-sounding 1969 series called The New People.

Inconsistency Alert

In the bridge party scene, Mrs. Beasley moves under her own power.

In the wider shots, she's perched on the edge of the chair.

In the wider shots, she’s perched on the edge of the chair.

In the tighter shots, she's leaning back.

In the tighter shots, she’s leaning back.

Creepy.

Weird Words of Wisdom: Clean, Humorous, and Sprightly Edition

Weird Words of Wisdom is back, bringing you more sage advice from vintage teenage advice manuals!

“Have the greatest of respect for girls. Some will lose their heads and be foolish at times. Retain your poise and judgment and keep them in their place.”

Advice for Boys, 1947 (1954 printing)
By the Rev. T.C. Siekmann

About This Book and Its Author: Advice for Boys offers exactly what its title promises. The Reverend Theodore C. Siekmann was a Catholic priest, so much of the book deals with specifically Catholic topics—the Mass, the rosary, and sainthood. Fortunately for us, Siekmann includes a smattering of weird advice on more typical teenage preoccupations.

I haven’t been able to find much information about the Rev. Siekmann. He served at St. Joseph Church in Prairie Du Rocher, Illinois, from 1956 to 1968, and at St. Luke’s in Belleville, Illinois, from 1968 until retirement in 1982. He also did missionary work in Guatemala.

His book’s jacket indicates that he taught physical education and served as a sports coach as well as a religious educator. This background may explain his touching faith in athletics’ ability to keep people out of trouble. (Ask Aaron Hernandez how that’s working for him.)

Siekmann also wrote a book for girls. I haven’t been able to get my hands on it, but it sounds awesome.

Quotes from Advice for Boys

“If you are not happy, then something is wrong with you.”

“Athletics is good, very good…When you are all absorbed in a game, you think of nothing else, you want nothing else. Evil can wait.”

“Say a word of appreciation to your mother occasionally. Compliment her on her pie or cake. Praise the roast. Notice and mention the neat ironing she does for you.”

“At all times there is a supply of current slang expressions that are clean, humorous, and sprightly. A sprinkling of these innocent phrases will add zest to your conversation, without giving offense.”

“One girl among your present acquaintances may be yours till death. At any rate, she will probably be someone’s wife. Treat her even now as God’s noble gift to man, as a mother-to-be. Protect her virtue; guard her innocence. Keep her good for her future husband, whether it is you or Jack or Jim.”

“Personality may be summarized by three words: truth, cleanliness, and a smile.”

“When a room is cold, do not complain. Suffer it in a spirit of mortification. When the summer is hot and humid, smile and bear it for God. When you do not like food, do not complain.”

“Raising chickens is a fine hobby, and supplies fresh eggs for the table. If the location of your home permits, you might raise rabbits, pheasants or foxes, or other fur-bearing animals. All this will be at a considerable profit, in addition to the wholesome enjoyment which you will derive from your activity.”

On becoming a priest: “In short, almost all that you need to do is to enter a seminary and be willing to do what you are told.”

Other Weird Words of Wisdom posts you might enjoy:

Mugging, Smooching, and Flinging the Woo Edition

Embracing our Nature and Destiny Edition

Big Splendid Manhood Edition

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 2, Episode 7, “Fat, Fat, The Water Rat,” 10/23/1967

Written by: Phil Davis. Directed by: Charles Barton.

My favorite episode! This one is a perfect mix of the silliness and sweetness that is Family Affair.

As we look in on the Davis family, Buffy is getting ready to go to dance class. French, rhapsodizing about English dancing-school girls in organdy dresses and patent leather shoes, criticizes the jeans-and-turtleneck look Buffy’s got going on.

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It doesn’t seem like an ideal outfit for dancing, but in the end it doesn’t matter–Buffy gets dropped off at an empty studio, only to learn that her lesson is cancelled.

Buffy goes outside to wait for Mr French, who’s due to return in an hour.

That's when we learn that Buffy's dancing school is located on the set of a 1930s Dead End Kids movie.

That’s when we learn that Buffy’s dancing school is located on the set of a Dead End Kids movie.

“Fat, fat, the water rat, fifty bullets in his hat,” group leader Mike chants as the kids march down the sidewalk. Googling suggests that this is a real schoolyard rhyme, dating back to at least the 1930s.

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Mike’s wardrobe also dates back to the 1930s.

Buffy takes an  immediate liking to Mike and the gang. When they ask her to play, she jumps at the chance.

The producers want to make sure we understand that these kids are poor--so poor that Mike's sister Katie is wearing a dress about three sizes too small.

The producers want to make sure we understand that these kids are poor–so poor that Mike’s sister Katie is wearing a dress about three sizes too small.

Meanwhile, back at the Davis apartment…

Jody is getting a lecture from Mr. French on the inappropriateness of "cavorting."

…Jody is getting a lecture from Mr. French on the inappropriateness of “cavorting.”

No wonder Buffy finds the tenement kids’ messy, active playing so invigorating. She also gets a chance to enjoy a new snack–bread and butt-ah.

Mike's mother lovingly throws this food to her children from the window.

Mike’s mother lovingly flings this food to her children from the window.

There's only one problem on the horizon: Mike makes it clear that he hates "fancy kids."

There’s only one problem on the horizon: Mike makes it clear that he hates “fancy kids.” By this, apparently, he means kids who wear clothes that aren’t falling apart.

(Notice that by the 1960s, American TV had embraced “diversity” by including one African-American person in any large group scene. This person would never actually get to talk, of course.)

Play time ends when French shows up.

Now, having a British butler come to pick you up is pretty fancy. Luckily, the other kids don't see Mr. French's arrival.

Having a British butler come to pick you up is pretty fancy. Luckily, the other kids don’t see Mr. French’s arrival.

French is appalled at Buffy’s dirty appearance.

At home, he sends Buffy straight to the bath tub and her clothes to the incinerator.

At home, he sends Buffy straight to the bath tub and her clothes to the incinerator.

In the palatial Davis bathroom, Buffy daydreams about the wonderful time she had playing with Mike and friends. When Uncle Bill comes in to talk to her, she eagerly tells him about her adventures.

This scene looks a little squicky by modern standards.

Having Uncle Bill present during Buffy’s bath is a little squicky by modern standards.

She wants to play with the kids again, and Bill supports her, even through French is certain to disapprove, and Mike won’t like her if she shows up in her normal “fancy clothes.”

Now, Uncle Bill could say that he makes the parenting decisions for the kids, and that Mr. French, as his employee, must accept that. He could say that Buffy should wear comfortable play clothes, and if Mike doesn’t accept her because of her clothes, he’s not a real friend.

Instead, he decides that he and Buffy should both sneak behind French’s back and pose as common folk in Mike’s neighborhood.

Uncle Bill dons his work clothes and takes Buffy to a rummage sale, where she finds a truly wretched outfit.

Uncle Bill dons his work clothes and takes Buffy to a rummage sale, where she finds a truly wretched outfit.

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Of course, her original outfit was wretched, too, in it’s own way.

(Note that while she was in the dressing room, she changed her own hairstyle. Impressive.)

As they leave the rummage sale, Bill donates Buffy’s original outfit to charity. Nice gesture, but won’t that make it hard to sneak back into the apartment later? And won’t French notice an outfit is missing?

Oh, well, the important thing is that Buffy gets have fun...by beating on the backs of poor youths.

Oh, well, the important thing is that Buffy gets have fun…by beating on the backs of poor youths.

Uncle Bill also makes a new friend, Mike’s father.

Uncle Bill meets Uncle Fester!

Uncle Bill meets Uncle Fester!

Mr. Callahan assumes Bill is down on his luck, and Bill admits to being “between jobs.” I suppose it seems better than saying, “Funny story: I’m actually rich, but my niece likes playing with poor kids!”

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Uncle Bill and Buffy even get to sample that well known slum delicacy, bread and sug-ah. (The Callahans are out of butt-ah).

At home, Bill and Buffy sneak back in, then make plans to visit the Callahans again. When they do, Bill learns that the neighbors are having a rent party for the Callahans, who can’t otherwise afford to pay their rent. The Callahans do, however, have some old dresses that their daughter Katie has outgrown, and Mr. Callahan generously offers them to Bill for Buffy.

Major cringe.

Major cringe.

Can this situation get any more awkward?

Yes. Yes it can.

Yes. Yes it can.

French has tracked Bill down with urgent messages from someone in Brazil and an under-secretary of state in Washington, D.C.

("Slumming is such a good sport," he sneers, "sort of like polo.")

“Slumming is such a good sport…sort of like polo.” sneers an understandably angry Mr. Callahan. Ouch.

And Bill has another irritated, portly gentleman to deal with at home.

Is French upset because his employer felt the need to lie and sneak around behind his back?

Is French upset because his employer felt the need to lie and sneak around behind his back?

Not really. He’s just disappointed that he’s failed to make a “gentlewoman” out of Buffy. Bill and the kids manage to convince him that it’s behavior, not clothing, that make a gentlewoman. At least, they seem to convince him of that. I bet he’d love to throw Buffy’s rummage-sale clothes in the incinerator, though.

Bill and Buffy attend the Callahans' rent party, and Bill calls out Mr. Callahan for his family reverse snobbery against fancy kids.

Bill and Buffy attend the Callahans’ rent party, and Bill calls out Mr. Callahan for his family’s reverse snobbery against fancy kids.

I would have gone with abject groveling, but Bill’s approach works with Mr. Callahan, especially when Buffy chimes in to explain how much she wanted to play with Mike and the other kids.

Everything ends well, of course. Bill finds a job for Mr. Callahan.

Jody joins the ragamuffin ranks with Buffy.

Jody joins the ragamuffin ranks with Buffy.

And French learns to stop worrying and love bread-and-sug-ah.

And French learns to stop worrying and love bread and sug-ah.

Commentary

I’m not the only one who loves this episode–it seems to linger in the minds of people who haven’t seen Family Affair since childhood. One source of its appeal might be the strangely retrograde world in which the Callahans live. Writer Phil Davis was born in 1904, which may explain the Depression-era vibe here. (Davis certainly presents a different perspective on the working classes than the episode two weeks back did.)

Anissa Jones, whose “happy” scenes sometimes seem forced to me, does a great job conveying Buffy’s delight with her new-found world; she just beams, especially in the bathtub scene.

I can’t help wondering if Jones felt a stronger connection than usual with this script. Buffy’s dilemma as a “fancy kid” reminds me of the difficulties child actors face in being cut off from normal childhood activities.

On a shallow note, I always enjoy seeing Buffy’s hair in styles other her signature one. In this episode, we get to see it…

...down....

…down…

...in an up-do...

…in an up-do…

...and in her play-time pony-tail.

…and in her play-time pony-tail.

This episode also shows Family Affair‘s continued preoccupation with confronting the various cultures of the big city. (The writer emphasizes the New-York-as-melting-pot theme by having the Callahans invite Bill to an upcoming rent party for their neighbors the Goldbergs. Mr. Callahan mentions enthusiastically that blintzes will be served.)

Guest Cast

Tim Callahan: Jackie Coogan. Mrs. Callahan: Marcia Mae Jones. Mike: Todd Baron. Miss Brown: Sandra Wirth. Woman: Lovyss Bradley. Katie: Sheila Duffy.

Coogan, of course, was a prolific child actor in the early days of film. Most memorably, he played the title role in Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid. His experiences led to the law that protects the earnings of child actors. Coogan’s later career as a character actor reached it’s apex when he played Uncle Fester on The Addams Family. Marcia Mae Jones began acting at a young age, also, and appeared in the Shirley Temple films Heidi and The Little Princess, William Wyler’s These Three and The Champ with Jackie Cooper (not Coogan). Wirth appeared in the Family Affair pilot.

Continuity Note

We know that Buffy has taken ballet lessons in the past. (If her class in this episode was ballet, though, shouldn’t she have worn a leotard?)

Inconsistency Alert

In future episodes, Buffy will wear the outfit Uncle Bill donated to the rummage sale.

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 2, Episode 6, “The Candy Striper,” 10/16/1967

Written by: John McGreevey and Jerry Devine. Story by: Jerry Devine. Directed by: William D. Russell.

And now we come to the episode that made such a big impression on me when I was little.

It begins with Uncle Bill awakening and bellowing for French.

Judging from the speed at which French responds, he has apparently been waiting outside Bill's door with orange juice and the newspaper.

Judging from the speed at which French responds, he has apparently been lurking right outside Bill’s door with orange juice and the newspaper.

Bill thinks he’s late for work, until French reminds him that it’s Saturday. Bill fantasizes about spending the whole day relaxing in bed–it has apparently slipped his mind that he’s a parent now.

Not to worry: The kids are quick to remind him. First, Jody barges in and tells him about a problem he’s having with his two best friends, Pete and Herbert.

I'm just glad to hear that Jody has friends. Although, come to think of it, we never actually see Pete and Herbert in this episode.

I’m just glad to hear that Jody has friends. Although, come to think of it, we never actually see Pete and Herbert in this episode.

Cissy enters and chastises Jody for bothering Uncle Bill–then she proceeds to tell her uncle about her own dilemma.

You see, Cissy wants to be a hospital volunteer--a "candy striper." But she's a few months shy of the minimum age--16--so she needs Uncle Bill to intercede for her.

You see, Cissy wants to be a hospital volunteer–a “candy striper.” But she’s a few months shy of the minimum age–16–so she needs Uncle Bill to intercede for her.

He agrees, even though it means giving up his Saturday morning to meet with the hospital administrator. Well, at least he has his afternoon free.

Or not.

Or not.

Buffy also wants to join a new activity–the Brownies. When Uncle Bill asks what a Brownie is, she responds that it’s what you are before you are a Girl Scout. (That was true then, and in the following decade when I participated. To me, it was a dull, three-year purgatory I had to endure before earning my spiffy green uniform and the ability to earn badges and sell cookies. Today, Brownies and even younger girls–Daisies–are full-fledged Girl Scouts themselves.)

Bill agrees to take Buffy to Brownie meeting that afternoon.

First, though, he has a successful meeting with the hospital administrator and tells a jubilant Cissy that she can be a volunteer. (Continuity alert: Cissy's friend Sharon is also a candy-striper.)

First, though, he has a successful meeting with the hospital administrator and tells a jubilant Cissy that she can be a volunteer. (Continuity alert: Cissy’s friend Sharon is also a candy-striper.)

When Cissy reports for duty, the nurse in charge stresses one rule--don't give patients food or drink without permission from a doctor or nurse. Do you hear that, Cissy?!

When Cissy reports for duty, the nurse in charge stresses one rule–don’t give patients food or drink without permission from a doctor or nurse. Do you hear that, Cissy?!

Meanwhile, Uncle Bill takes Buffy to meet her prospective Brownie leader.

Oh, dear lord. If leaders had to wear uniforms like that today, one particular troop in my town would be short at least one leader.

Oh, dear lord. If leaders had to wear uniforms like that today, one particular troop in my town would be short at least one leader.

Although Bill hopes to make a quick exit, the leader encourages him to stay for the meeting.

He's not uncomfortable in that environment at all.

He’s not at all uncomfortable in that environment.

Unlike her uncle, Buffy has a great time at the meeting, and it's clear that she can't wait to join the troop.

Unlike her uncle, Buffy has a great time at the meeting, and it’s clear that she can’t wait to join the troop.

(My 1970s Brownie uniform was a little different from the one these girls are wearing, but the hat was the same.)

Soon Buffy is sporting her own uniform, carrying her (authentic) Brownie manual, and practicing the pledge.

Jody is not impressed. He says he'd rather be a Marine...or a Cub Scout.

Jody is not impressed. He says he’d rather be a Marine…or a Cub Scout.

Jody has bigger problems when Cissy returns from her first day as a candy-striper: She’s so taken with the idea of nursing that she takes one sneeze from Jody as cause for alarm.

During her next session at the hospital, Cissy faces a more serious test.

This pitiful sounding old woman begs Cissy for a glass of water--and a sympathetic Cissy hurries off to get one.

This pitiful sounding old woman begs Cissy for a glass of water–and a sympathetic Cissy hurries off to get one.

Uh-oh.

Fortunately, the head nurse catches her before she gives the patient any water. She can’t have any because she’s awaiting surgery, the nurse explains to Cissy. Giving her water would have forced the doctor to delay the procedure–a delay that could have had serious consequences.

Cissy feels awful, of course, and a pep talk from Uncle Bill about moving on after mistakes only comforts her a little. The next day, she figures her career in stripes is over when her name is missing from duty roster.

She's thrilled when the head nurse tells her that she's merely been transferred to another floor--the maternity ward.

She’s thrilled when the head nurse tells her that she’s merely been transferred to another floor–the maternity ward.

She redeems herself by comforting a woman who’s laboring all alone.

Her husband is in the Army, the mother-to-be tells Cissy. Oh, sure. That's what they all say.

Her husband is in the Army, the mother-to-be tells Cissy. Oh, sure. That’s what they all say.

My bad--she really does have a husband in the Army, who shows up after the birth.

My bad–she really does have a husband in the Army, who shows up after the birth.

Isn't that an odd nursery set-up, with the babies in one big bed?

Isn’t that an odd nursery set-up, with the babies in one big bed?

Cissy returns home high on nursing again and thrilled to have played a small part in the miracle of birth.

Meanwhile, Buffy has mastered the Brownie pledge and has earned two “unofficial” badges. (French wasn’t thrilled–one of them was for cooking!)

She becomes a official Brownie at a meeting in Central Park.

She becomes a official Brownie at a meeting in Central Park.

When Uncle Bill casually mentions Buffy’s age to the leader, however, things take an unfortunate turn. Buffy is only 6, and the leader says that Brownies must be 7–no exceptions.

(Time sure moves slowly in the Davis universe. None of the kids have celebrated birthdays since they arrived in New York.)

That night, Uncle Bill has to break the news to Buffy that her Brownie career is suspended until she celebrates her next birthday.

Though sad at first, she soon perks up--after all, she notes, she only has to wait 92 days.

Though sad at first, she soon perks up–after all, she notes, she only has to wait 92 days.

Commentary

This is the episode I remembered best from my childhood. At the time, I found the scene with the old woman and Cissy’s subsequent reprimand harrowing. Oddly, I had totally forgotten about the Buffy story, which now seems more moving and which was about a child much closer to my age.

I’m sure it was this episode that made me want to be a candy striper as a teen–and I did, sort of. Volunteers at our hospital didn’t wear candy-striped dresses, darn it. Just ugly burgundy smocks.

Scouting-themed episodes are common on sitcoms aimed at kids–even several of the current Disney Channel shows have done such episodes. The scouts in these episodes, though, always represent some made-up organization, like the Frontier Boys or the Sunflower Girls. I can’t think of any other show besides Family Affair that featured real Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts. I’m curious about how that happened–did the Buffy character’s great popularity with young girls convince the Girl Scouts of America to use the show as a recruiting vehicle?

It’s pretty obvious that they got some “technical advice” from the Scouts, since the portrayal was so authentic. (Even the badges Buffy is holding in the featured image atop this page are recognizably real.) The only thing I question is the age rule–membership goes by grade level now, and I’m pretty sure it did in my day, too. Otherwise, girls would be changing levels chaotically throughout the school year as they celebrated birthdays.

Guest Cast

Mrs. Russell: Alice Frost. Sharon: Sherry Alberoni. Mrs. Warren: Karen Green. Mrs. Elkins: Nydia Westman. Randy: Debi Storm. Mrs. Thompson: Audrey Dalton. Dalton made many guest appearances on TV westerns. Her film credits include 1953’s Titanic. Debi Storm made a memorable Brady Bunch appearance–she was Molly Webber, the girl Marcia made over.

Spin Again Sunday: The All in the Family Game (1972)

af boxHonesty, I have mixed feelings about the TV series All in the Family, probably because my family let me watch it at much too young an age. On a regular basis, the show assaulted my sensibilities with such concepts as cross burning and attempted rape. I can’t imagine letting my 10-year-old listen as a stream of racial epithets pour forth from the TV–but, thankfully, she doesn’t live in a world where she hears those words on a regular basis from relatives, as I did. Along with my parents’ guidance, All in the Family did reinforce to me how ridiculous racism was, and for that, I’m grateful.

Though most of the show’s characters creeped me out to varying degrees, I always loved Edith. She reminded me a lot of my beloved maternal grandmother–naive, confused, but kind-hearted. As a child, I was shocked when I first heard Jean Stapleton interviewed and realized she didn’t talk like Edith. It produced an early epiphany about how convincing acting can be.

I’m featuring this game in Jean Stapleton’s honor.

af answer

This Week’s Game: The All in the Family Game, Milton Bradley

Copyright Date: 1972

Recommended Ages: 10 to Adult

Object: “Guess Archie’s Answers”

Game Play: One person acts as “the MC” and asks questions from the game booklet. Players write their answers down on slips of paper and pass them to the MC. When the responses are read aloud, players earn points by guessing which player gave each answer. The MC also reads Archie’s answer to each question (or, in some cases, Edith’s answer). Players who matched that answer get an extra point.

af question

“Clever or unexpected responses often throw the party into peals of laughter,” the game box assures us. I can imagine that might be true, but the “official” answers from Archie and Edith aren’t exactly uproarious. Some examples:

How do you feel about being a sex symbol?

Archie: If the shoe fits–why take it off?

With my background, I should be a…

Archie: Boss over something.

What’s with hips?

Archie: They should be watched.

What do you think of Bangladesh?

Edith: I never played that game.

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 2, Episode 5, “The Other Cheek,” 10/9/1967

Written by: Elroy Schwartz. Directed by: Charles Barton.

I’m ba-a-a-a-ck! I had a great vacation but I must have missed the Davis family–Brian Keith has appeared in my dreams the past two nights (and not in an entirely salacious way).

This week’s episode is an unusually violent one right from the very beginning.

The twins' fight over the rules of checkers quickly escalates, as Jody threatens to "sock" Buffy.

The twins’ fight over the rules of checkers quickly escalates, as Jody threatens to “sock” Buffy.

Buffy runs to Uncle Bill, who is reclining in his chair and reading a book. (Somehow, I don’t enjoy many such moments as a parent.)

Uncle Bill explains that Jody must never hit a girl. (Jody wonders if that goes for kicking, too. It does.)

Uncle Bill explains that Jody must never hit a girl. (Jody wonders if that goes for kicking, too. It does.)

In true TV style, Uncle Bill’s words are put to the test the very next day.

When this girl approaches Buffy to join her for lunch and share schoolroom "tattles," Buffy declines. She has to eat lunch with Jody, she explains.

When this girl approaches Buffy to join her for lunch and an exchange of schoolroom “tattles,” Buffy declines. She has to eat lunch with Jody, she explains.

Jody gives Buffy permission to desert him and settles down to eat his lunch alone. (Doesn’t he have any friends? I worry about that boy, sometimes.)

A decidedly undainty girl named Jeannie joins Jody and demands that he trade sandwiches with her.

A decidedly undainty girl named Jeannie joins Jody and demands that he trade sandwiches with her.

We get our first insight into Jeannie’s troubled home life when we see what she’s brought to school for lunch.

Gag!

Gag!

Understandably, Jody resists trading, but Jeannie won’t take no for an answer.

After school, a ravenous Jody wolfs down a decent sandwich and explains the day's events to Uncle Bill.

After school, a ravenous Jody wolfs down a decent sandwich and explains the day’s events to Uncle Bill.

Bill is proud that Jody didn’t hit Jeannie, and Jody basks in his uncle’s approval.

The next day, Jody tries to avoid Jeannie by eating lunch inside with the janitor. She finds him later, though, and expresses her displeasure.

The next day, Jody tries to avoid Jeannie by eating lunch inside with the janitor. She finds him later, though, and expresses her displeasure.

shiner

Ouch.

To her credit, Cissy steps in to protect her younger brother. She takes off for Jeannie’s neighborhood, a little slice of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn that exists somewhere between the Davis high-rise and the kids’ school.

New York really is an amazing city, isn't it?

New York really is an amazing city, isn’t it?

Things don’t go especially well for Cissy.

But let's face it--even when she puts on her bitch face, Cissy doesn't exactly ooze street cred.

Let’s face it–even when she puts on her bitch face, Cissy doesn’t exactly ooze street cred.

She tries to explain to Jeannie’s mother that Jody is in a difficult position because he knows it’s wrong to hit girls. We get a deeper insight into Jeannie’s home life from Mrs. Michaels’ reply–she says someone should tell her husband that rule. (According the laugh track, we should find that line funny.)

Jeannie's mother tells Cissy to mind her own business.

Finally, Jeannie’s mother tells Cissy to mind her own business.

Witnessing this confrontation makes Jeannie even angrier that usual.

The next day, she decks Jody for no reason at all.

The next day, she decks Jody for no reason at all.

Uncle Bill decides it’s time to step in and talk to Jeannie’s father.

Unfortunately, he finds Mr. Michaels is no more ready to engage in reasonable dialog than his daughter is.

Unfortunately, he finds Mr. Michaels is no more ready to engage in reasonable dialog than his daughter is.

Afterwards, Jody is disappointed that Uncle Bill didn’t punch the guy. Bill explains that Jody should try to talk things out with Jeannie before she hits him again. This only results in an extortion scheme–Jody agrees to provide Jeannie with sandwiches and money to keep her off his case.

Hearing this, Uncle Bill trots back to the neighborhood tenement to confront Mr. Michaels again. Jeannie’s dad seems momentarily contrite, before unloading a sucker punch on Bill.

The fight went by too quickly for me to capture any good images, but this is how it ends up.

The ensuing fight goes by too quickly for me to capture any good images, but this is how it ends up.

Afterwards, Uncle Bill feels embarrassed and hopes to hide the whole thing from the kids. (He declines French’s offer to explain the situation to Jody through a lecture on the dangers of “craven appeasement.” I love French.)

Word spreads quickly at school, of course, and the twins report happily to their uncle that his forceful action has made Jeannie back down. They enlighten him a bit about the rules of the school-yard, where words aren’t as important as actions.

We have one of our requisite sweet endings. Sigh.

We have one of our requisite sweet endings. Sigh. Is it any wonder that I dream about this guy?

All’s well that ends well, except maybe for Jeannie and her violent, impoverished family. I’m guessing she’s in the women’s equivalent of Attica right now.

Commentary

What old-school family sit com didn’t have a bully episode like this? In the ineffectual attempts of family members to find a reasonable solution, this reminds me of the Buddy Hinton episode of The Brady Bunch. (Elroy Schwartz, who wrote this episode, was the brother of Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz. He wrote several episodes of that series, but not the Buddy Hinton one.)

Guest Cast

Girl: Kellie Flanagan. Mr. Michaels: Sean McClory. Mrs. Michaels: Kathleen O’Malley. Jeannie: Claire Wilcox.

Flanagan, McClory, O’Malley. They should have aired this one on St. Patrick’s Day.

Flanagan was Candice in the TV series The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. (That’s a show I’d love to see again.)

Claire Wilcox was active as a child actress throughout the 1960s, but she dropped out of sight after a couple of Partridge Family appearances.

Fun Facts

Jody only likes sardines that are “naked”–lacking heads and tails.