I grew up in a modest, suburban backsplit in North York through the 1970s and ’80s.
It was a wonderfully clichéd middle-class existence with my younger brother, two attentive parents and our dog Pucci. I walked to the public school down the street, then two blocks in the other direction to attend junior high.
We had a small backyard, with a (somewhat unsafe) swing set, but spent a lot of our time out front, playing road hockey, riding bikes, or ringing the neighbour’s doorbell and running away — sorry Mr. and Mrs. Campbell.
Inside we had a basement my dad finished himself, where we played with our Atari 400, a rubberized strongman in a speedo called Stretch Armstrong, and a detailed Battlestar Galactica space station model.
And while the basement was our playspace, I must admit that most of my time was spent in the family room, connected to the TV — literally by our brown channel box and a rubber cord, and figuratively by the dreams of being a member of my favourite television families’ households.
Don’t get me wrong; I loved being a Roth.
But secretly, much of my youth was spent wishing I was a Cleaver, a Brady, or a Drummond. Oh to be a Keaton, a Seaver, or a Cunningham. What I wouldn’t have given to be a Huxtable — although frankly I feel less good about the thought of living with Bill Cosby these days.
And with the recent news of Florence Henderson’s death (Carol Brady) and this week’s sudden announcement that Canadian TV icon Alan Thicke (Growing Pains’ Jason Seaver) died in the most quintessentially Canadian way — on the hockey rink playing pickup with his son — I’m suddenly saddened that so many members of my favourite television families are passing away.
I’m feeling nostalgic. So, enjoy this trip down memory lane thinking about those familiar feelings we got from Fonzie’s apartment over the garage, the Drummonds’ massive penthouse apartment, walking up the gangplank of the Pacific Princess, or pushing through the swinging kitchen door for a snack with Mike and Jason Seaver.