by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Most of our mommies are gone here on TV Street. We come downstairs and there’s no breakfast anymore, no bacon, no eggs, no toast, no pancakes. None of us knows what’s happening. But it’s been going on for a while, and we’re getting tired of eating doughnuts out of the box.

First it was that nice family down the street, from “The Donna Reed Show.”

They woke up one day and Donna was gone. Never came back. Her kids were real upset. There was nobody to cook those nice dinners and mend the Halloween costumes.

And then, over at the “I Love Lucy” apartments, Lucy just vanished. Gone. Just like that. Ricky looked everywhere — at the Copacabana, down in Ethel’s place, nothing. Little Ricky has been crying ever since.

Last week, over at Ozzie and Harriet’s house, Harriet Nelson also disappeared. Poof. Gone. That’s not like her. Of course, we said that when Ozzie disappeared nearly 20 years ago. And when Ricky went away 10 years later. That one really puzzled us. One day he was here, the next day he was gone. All that was left was his guitar and the goop he used to put in his hair. We all kept waiting for him to come home, maybe driving a pink Cadillac with his new rock ‘n’ roll records in the back. But he never did come. Now Harriet’s gone. Maybe she went to find Ricky.

“Gee whiz,” I say to Beaver Cleaver, “Who’s gonna lead our scout troop this year?”

“Gosh, I dunno,” Beaver says.

“How about Eddie Munster’s dad?”

“Didn’t you hear? He’s gone, too.”

“No kidding?”

“Yeah. Mrs. Munster just sits around 1313 Mockingbird Lane, cleaning the cobwebs and waiting for some news.”

“Golly. Where’s everybody going?” They were always there

Things sure are changing here on TV Street. Once upon a time, we knew what to expect. Day after day, week after week, Mom and Dad were there in the morning, and Mom and Dad were there at night. Dad went to work — at least we think Dad went to work — but he was always home in time for supper and he never talked about the office. Whatever his job was, he didn’t get too messy.

“Hey Chip, Ernie, Robbie, how about your dad, Mr. Douglas?” I say. “Can he help us build our go-kart this year?”

“Dad’s gone, too,” the Three Sons say.

Mr. Douglas is gone? Gee. You used to always count on dads to be there if you had a problem. They wore cardigan sweaters and sat in easy chairs and spoke in a nice calm tone, sometimes they pointed at you with his pipe. And they always had this really smart advice.

And if Dad didn’t have the answer, you could go to an uncle, like Uncle Charley, or Uncle Fester. Or an aunt. They’d know what to do.

“Hey, Opie! How about Aunt Bee? We need some cookies for the bake sale to raise money for our baseball team. Can she help us?”

“Aunt Bee’s gone,” Opie says.

Shucks. Even the aunts are leaving. Not Aunt Bee’s family values

It’s a mystery here on TV Street. And lately, we hear rumors. We hear about these new houses just a few blocks away, where they don’t have fathers, where the parents are (gulp) divorced! We hear about a house where the mother — someone named Roseanne — drinks beer! And another house where someone named Murphy Brown had a baby without a husband! Can you do that?

I heard there’s even one family where the kids and the parents are cartoons, and they use . . . curse words! People named the Simpsons? I’m guessing this is just a nasty rumor, but that’s what I heard.

“Did you hear about the house where two teenage boys sit on the coach and watch TV all day?” my friend Bobby Brady, from “The Brady Bunch” tells me,
“and they laugh real funny and they say, ‘This sucks . . . heh-heh-heh . . . this sucks.’ “

“Does their dad wash their mouths out with soap?” I ask.

“He must.”

“Wow. What does your dad say about that?”

“My dad went away, too.”

Mr. Brady went away? Where is everybody going? How are we ever going to solve the big problems of life, like putting too much sugar in the lemonade, or finding the dog when it runs off?

Harriet Nelson would know. We could always go to Harriet to pour a glass of milk and put some cookies on the plate and tell us what to do. Day after day. Week after week.

Now the Nelson house is empty, and, to tell the truth, we’re getting pretty lonely here on TV Street. Once upon a time, we could count on things, like meeting the family at the breakfast table. Now we eat doughnuts, by ourselves, and wonder what happened to all the people we used to know.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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