Monday, July 31, 2023

Summer In Knight Park

After working early and often for a lot of last week, I wanted nothing more than to sleep in this week. Spent most of the morning reading and writing and didn't really get going until around noon. Watched Match Game '77 while I ate. Charming soap actress Tudi Wiggins looked more like your favorite English teacher than the glamorous star of Love of Life, and her down-to-Earth answers brought a lot of fun to this truncated week. She's one of the few one-off soap stars I really wish had returned. Ron Pallio also did well, making me hope that the missing episode from this week will finally be allowed to run. (Apparently, a contestant gave an answer that was randy even for this show.)

Checked a few things online, then headed out on my bike to run errands. First stop was the Collingswood PNC Bank. Needed money for the rent. Rode up to one of the two outdoor ATMs, got the money, went on my way.

It was far too nice of a day to rush home. While a bit more humid than yesterday, it remained sunny, breezy, and about what it should be at this time of year, in the lower 80's. I bought a pina colada smoothie and a soft pretzel at WaWa, then rode two blocks down to Knight Park. 

Knight Park is on a huge triangle between two residential streets and the Collingswood High School. It really is a lovely park, full of beautiful old trees, smooth carpets of emerald grass, and three huge sports fields. I rode on the asphalt circuit around the park, veering off on a side road that pulled up to a playground. It mostly had a medieval theme, with a "chariot" kids could climb on, "dragon" slides, see-saw "horses," and a castle monkey bars set, though there was also a series of metal and plastic bars made to look like a Collingswood store. 

Settled down with my treats to watch everything going on around me. A little girl ducked around the castle and a series of tunnels and dragon ride-ons in a sandy enclosure likely intended for younger kids as her mother kept a close eye on her. Two families enjoyed picnics at red and blue benches on either side of the playground area. Four kids happily kicked a soccer ball around in the nearby fields.

After I ate, I strolled over to a smaller playground set. This one had a log cabin theme and just seemed to be stranded off on its own. It was also a rusty, flaking mess heavily covered in graffiti (though the slide seemed to work just fine). Followed a grove of roses to a boulder with a plaque on it. Turns out Michael Landon had lived in Collingswood at one point. The playground was dedicated in his memory in 1997...but it must have been abandoned when the castle playground was built. A little log cabin-like building stood a few feet from the playground. It was boarded up and also seemed abandoned; it may have been used for storage.

Most of the ground in the park is still wet from the storms we had over the weekend, but I did find dry ground to sit on under a voluminous oak tree. I meditated, trying to focus on the cool wind in my hair that ruffled the leaves over my head and the birds chirping all around me. It was hard to drown out the noises of civilization - cars roaring on Collings Avenue, the kids playing soccer - and in my own head. I tried to push away songs and intrusive thoughts and just hear the sounds of nature. 

Took the long way home through Collingswood and Haddon Township. Rose once told me when I admired the architecture in Collingswood that all of the really nice architecture is in Camden. Personally, I never agreed with her on that. There's some lovely old houses around Knight Park, some of them dating to the 1880's when the park was founded. Passed by a really nifty Art Deco church, too. 

Made one quick stop at Dollar General on the way home. Looked at brushes, but I ended up with more Sunbelt granola bars and a Dr. Pepper Zero. They weren't busy at all, and I was in and out.

Went straight into a very late lunch when I got home. Watched the first two episodes on that Best of Password DVD set while I ate. No wonder Mom loved watching this with her grandparents back in the early-mid 60's. The simple premise has always been addictive. Two celebrities give clues for contestants to guess words. If they earn 25 points, they make it to the Lightning Round. If they guess enough words in a minute, they can earn 200 dollars. 

Looks like Carol Burnett's always been good at this game. She wiped the floor with her friend, boss, and mentor Gary Moore in the first black and white episode on the set, making it to the Lightning Round twice to his once. Betsy Palmer beat the pants of a jovial Dick Van Dyke in the next episode, too. Good-natured Allen Ludden keeps an eye on the proceedings. 

Switched to my cast album for the 1980 Broadway show Barnum while vacuuming and dusting. This goes a lot further into the life of the original "humbug" PT Barnum (Jim Dale) than the later Greatest Showman. Numbers in the second half of the show refer to his attempts to get into real estate and politics ("Black and White") to please his more sedate wife Charity (Glenn Close). The hits were the introspective ballad "The Colors of My Life" and the rousing "Join the Circus" and "Come Follow the Band." I also like "One Brick at a Time" for Charity and the clowns building Barnum's Museum. 

I'm surprised no one thought of reviving this when Greatest Showman was a surprise hit in late 2017. While it did well in the US, it seems to be better-remembered in England. I remember seeing the Michael Crawford London filming of the show on TV as a kid. 

Worked on writing for a while. Good Witch Patti Deustch explains that Joyce saved her little friends the Smurf-Munchkins from being enslaved. Joyce is just regretting having read that comic book from Belgium she found in Patti's dressing room. She's more than a little surprised when the silver shoes that once belonged to the warlock appear on her feet! Patti says they'll protect her now, but Joyce isn't sure about this, even if the shoes are really pretty.

Watched Match Game '79 during dinner. For some reason, they skipped the rest of the Fred Grandy week and the beginning of the next week, going straight into the second-to-last week of the CBS run. Orson Bean and Fannie Flagg join in making fun of Gene's checked suit, with Fannie asking him to make bets on horses! The others try to figure out "__ Giants" in the Audience Match. 

Finished out the night after a shower with dinner and more rediscovered game shows on YouTube. The Match Game Valerie Bertanelli week is far from the only lost game show week to suddenly reappear in the last few days. The Christmas week episodes of the Richard Dawson Family Feud from 1982 turned up on Buzzr last week and this week for the first time since their original run. Unlike with Match Game, I have no idea why GSN apparently ran every Christmas week but this one. There's nothing offensive about them.  

As I've mentioned, game shows are particularly prone to being lost. Until they started turning up in reruns on USA and Game Show Network in the 80's and 90's, most shows weren't thought to have any particular value. Even some long-running favorites like Concentration are almost completely gone. This Tournament of Champions episode from 1967 is one of the survivors.

Short-lived flops have even worse survival rates. The dice game The Big Showdown and the pinball-themed The Magnificent Marble Machine from 1975 have two episodes remaining. The first probably exists because host Jim Peck fell down his entrance steps and laughed it off. The second ably showcases that not-so magnificent Marble Machine that was apparently nifty to look at, but also fragile and capricious. While I can understand why the overly complicated Marble Machine didn't last, I do wish more of Showdown existed. The game play is challenging and fun, and Jim Peck is a doll even after his tumble.

At least they were recorded. Game shows from the 50's and early 60's were broadcast live, or recorded on kinetoscopes, filmed records, that were often junked afterwards. The original Break the Bank started as an imitation $64 Question on radio. Only three episodes remain from its three separate runs on NBC, including one from its reformatting as Break the $250,000 Bank during the height of the quiz show craze of the mid-50's. Host Bert Parks even gets to croon a bit - and very well - during this episode from 1956.

Some later shows have disappeared, too. No one seems to know what happened to most of Sale of the Century's daytime run. Buzzr and GSN only showed early 1988 through the end of the show's run in 1989 and the full 1985-1986 syndicated series, but the rest seems to be missing. Some older episodes apparently did run on GSN in the 90's and early 2000's, like the very early episode I have here. This one replicates the Australian format, up to and including the faces of famous people on the Fame Game tiles. (An earlier version from 1969 through 1973 has nine episodes remaining, though none are currently online.)

Discover more lost bits of TV's past with episodes that haven't been seen anywhere for decades! (Break the Bank comes with its original Dodge commercials; Family Feud has the commercials from its Buzzr cable showing.)

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