Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Formative Years

When I was just a little girl... (ok, now I have "Que Sera, Sera" in my head). But, seriously, when I was just a little girl I don't think I ever had a full weekend at home. My brother and I would be bundled into the car and would either head east to Milwaukee, where my dad would have work and we would stay with my Uncle spending vast periods of time at the Milwaukee Public Museum, or, which was more likely the case, we would head west to my maternal grandparents farm. They had a big old farm house out in the driftless region about half way between Spring Green and Lone Rock (the coldest place in the state with the warmest heart) out on Hwy. JJ. The house was huge, having been a mail order farmstead from Sears that was expanded on over the generations. Almost every Sunday this is where I was to be found, in the house, while my grandfather would always insist that we should go outside and play (rare photo of me "in the wild" flying a kite above). There were many reasons that I didn't like to go outside. One was my really bad allergies, two was it was usually hot or cold and I liked the standard temperature indoors, but three was because of Doctor Who.

I am a tv addict. I love television (though I am studiously ignoring it and obviously bored in this picture of my grandparents living room). I can honestly say that I came by this through genetics. My grandfather was a worse tv addict then me (notice, the tv is the center of the room). Not only did he have the tv on constantly, even eating his dinner away from the rest of the family watching tv, but when he got a VCR he would record everything he watched as well. Now there is only so much space for tapes of America's Funniest Home Videos... I mean seriously, that house was filled with them. At this time though, what was to be his favorite and most recorded show had not yet made it's debut. Instead he turned on PBS and left it on all day. No one was allowed to turn the channel because in the morning was This Old House, which being a constant remodeller in the most unique of ways (there was an outlet built into the top of the house to hang lights on the old satellite dish) he had to watch. Then at dinner time Are You Being Served? was on... which was his favorite comedy. So that there would be no interruption between the two shows the channel was never changed all day.

What was on PBS during the interval between This Old House and Are You Being Served? you might ask? The answer is Doctor Who. Doctor Who with Tom Baker. Now, I'm a little kid at this point, like 6 or 7, and, not wanting to go outside, well, that left Doctor Who. This show freaked me out on a regular basis. I liked the goofy man in the blue box who saved the day, but what I most remember is him being chased in gravel pits by evil monsters, notably, the Cybermen. Now to add to this story the crucial point. My grandparents farm had two big fields and then hills. In these hills were located two quarries. As in gravel pits. As in, the place where The Doctor always encountered his enemies. So after spending an afternoon seeing a show that clearly stated the dangers of gravel pits, my grandfather would tell me to go out and play in a gravel pit (in the photo above, the gravel pit is out of sight to the right). Now, at this point, you might be thinking that, oh, he didn't mean to scare me, this isn't his way. WRONG! This is just the sadistic kind of humor he had, which I have indeed inherited. This is a man who would hid peas in his blind cat's food to watch him sort it out in a little line on the side, laughing the whole time. So in other words, he knew exactly what he was doing.

Whenever I went to the lower gravel pit my parents always wondered why there was one section I would never go into. Well, in fairness, I spent so much time learning about the dangers of gravel pits, I knew that that little curve in the valley created by the gravel was where the Cybermen lived. I knew it in my heart. Years later, when Doctor Who had fallen out of my life, now that my grandfather had switched to watching ABC on Sundays, I would still get chills thinking about that lower pit. In fact, it wasn't until I started watching Doctor Who again that I remembered that this was the reason I was scared. I had totally forgotten about Cyberman and the goofy guy in the blue box, but I remember expecting to see a flash of silver if I where to turn round that corner. I still find it odd that years later I would look back on this time as a defining time in my life, despite the fear. Was a born to be a Whovian? Or did my grandfather make me into one?


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