When I was a young child, my great grandmother lost her mobility. She suffered some sort of spider bite (I was too young to remember the details…they’re irrelevant anyway), and had her leg amputated.
Her confinement to a wheel chair was a real blow for her, she was a fiercely independent woman, a fireball of a Yankee in every sense of the word. She never bought brand name, refused to let anyone buy her anything, and spoiled her great grand children rotten.
My Grandmother, her daughter, was a busy woman, with the family farm, and spending time in Concord, where she was a state legislator. The burden of caring for my great grandmother fell to my own mother, who was a stay at home mom, and was perfectly willing, because she loved my great grandmother like her own.
Grammie Ruth continued to live in the old farmhouse despite being in a wheel chair, and as a consequence, I spent a lot of time there growing up. Nearly all days of the summer were spent in and around the farmhouse. Grammie Ruth watched a lot of TV, since there really wasn’t all that much to do, sitting in her wheel chair. She knitted all day, and watched TV. She could still bake, with help, but most days, it was knitting and TV. I watched a lot of TV with her: Stars and Strikes, the candlepin bowling league on the old WCVB Channel 5. Tom Bergeron, hosting a local Boston talk show on WBZ before Hollywood discovered him.
And of course, no day was complete without flipping the TV to CBS at 11 am, and watching Bob Barker on the Price is Right. I can remember sitting, day in, day out, on the floor in front of Grammie’s wheelchair, watching the Price is Right. The kooky gags, the pricing games, “A NEW CAR!”. I remember one time, where Bob hurt himself on a broken light bulb on the set, like it was only yesterday. I remember having to ask somebody what “spayed and neutered” meant, because Bob kept saying at the end of every show, and I didn’t know what it meant. Grammie and I would always try and guess the prices before they revealed them. We loved Plinko. Who didn’t? I tried to build my own Plinko board once, with a piece of wood and some bent nails I’d scrounged from the barn, because Plinko was just that cool.
Grammie passed on in 1999, but the memories stayed with me, clear and vivid. Time starts to fade them after a while, but tonight, tonight I got to relive them all.
Tonight CBS aired Bob Barker’s final appearance as the host of the Price is Right. He’s hosted that show for 35 years, which is a praise worthy feat in and of itself. But tonight I not only celebrated the career of a legend, a pop culture icon, a hero, I celebrated the memory of my Grammie. Who I still miss, very, very much. And I’m not ashamed to say that when Bob closed the show by reminding us to help control the pet population, I lost it.
Thank you, Bob Barker, for being our friend for so many years. Thank you for giving me so many memories.
I miss you, Grammie.