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By Katie Bourg
Senior Daze 

Curly-haired star shines brightly in memories

 


A large part of my childhood ended this week. I was very much a Shirley Temple fan in the earliest days of the depression. She was everybody’s little girl, and so loved. I remember reading that her parents took her out of the Hollywood scene in her teens so she would not suffer the fate of so many child stars. They were wise to do so. We see so many make horrible mistakes.

Shirley did not escape problems completely. Her first marriage was a mistake, but she had the maturity and grace to overcome the fallout. I think back and see so many that did not do as well.

At the time my parents were traveling with me in the backseat, and I spent six months on my grandmother’s farm, surrounded by unfamiliar relatives. Some devoted aunts started the idea that I could be like Shirley, and my hair was curled accordingly. The effort to keep me in curls became a severe annoyance for both my mother and me. Time proved them wrong and I returned to my original look.

It probably helped that I was much too ‘chubby’ to fit in front of a camera. I’ve always thought that was a problem. Maybe it was a blessing.

I remember thinking nobody could be a great as Shirley, and missed her when she left the silver screen. I hope the rest of her life was as good as I feel she deserved. I haven’t thought of her much in later years, but I’ll miss her anyway.

We’ve lost another part of our youth that was so enjoyable. But not the memories. Our first TV came into the house about the same time our kids did. Sid Caesar made everybody laugh. There will never be another TV program quite like the “Show of Shows.” The first years we put the kids to bed, curled up on the couch and laughed ourselves silly. But it didn’t take long for the kids to join us. Guess we were making too much noise. And when our young son tried to make faces like Sid, discipline went out the window. We didn’t have much money back then, but we sure had a lot of fun.

I suppose every generation has memories that bring smiles. I remember my mother telling about Saturday nights at the old Pantages in Tacoma. My father brought home a little bulldog. She was the runt of the litter and very small. He slipped her inside his suit coat and took her to the movies. Rin Tin Tin came on the screen and Bugsy stuck her head out just in time to see him. She created a fair sized riot, and they were told to leave the theater. Bugsy didn’t get to go to the show anymore. Bugsy was long gone by the time I arrived. But the memory was not.

My kids will remember Lassie, as I do. And I suppose they will remember some of their shoot ‘em up programs on TV. I fear they have had so much more they will have trouble remembering the best. I’m glad we didn’t have so many choices. Sort of like eating too many flavors of ice cream. How can you know what you really like?

Enjoy the Good Ship Lollipop, Shirley. You’ve earned it.

 

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