I was at our choir party Thursday night with my wife and daughter. We had a lovely time. Our organist showed Lydia how the organ worked. But somehow one of our co-pastors asked me about a television show called “My Mother, the Car.” Seems that one of them claimed that the show existed, while the other co-pastor said that it couldn’t possibly be so. Even when I noted that it starred Jerry Van Dyke and the voice of Ann Sothern (why was THAT sticking in my brain?), I was not believed. It was not until three others acknowledged that they too saw remembered the program that the first co-pastor and I were vindicated.
But I had forgotten until afterwards that not only did friend Fred Hembeck write about the show a few months ago, he found a link to five episodes, including the first one.
Fred wrote: Look, “Bewitched”, “I Dream Of Jeanie”, “My Favorite Martian”, and “Mr. Ed” were all of the same era as “My Mother The Car”, and all shared a central conceit with it–one character, and one character only, is aware of a magical totem right smack dab in the middle of things. A witch. A genie.A martian. A talking horse. All were big hits. All were just as fanciful as having your dead mother come back, reincarnated, as a talking car, maybe, but far more manageable, storywise. Viewers found the notion of a pair of attractive young women performing magical tricks, a faux uncle who’s really a man from outer space, and even a horse that talks, far easier to believe. For one thing, each of them could casually interact with those in the cast unaware of their special abilities, even the horse. But David Crabtree’s (Jerry Van Dyke) mother? There wasn’t much she (the voice of early sitcom icon Ann Sothern) could do but squawk at her son via the radio when he–and he alone–was sitting in the car. Sorta limited the plot possibilities…
Well maybe that was the problem but I think it was something more Oedipal: Dave Crabtree was riding INSIDE of his mother. Freud would have had a field day.And check out the lyrics:
Everybody knows in a second life, we all come back sooner or later.
As anything from a pussycat to a man eating alligator.
Well you all may think my story, is more fiction than it’s fact.
But believe it or not my mother dear decided she’d come back.
As a car…
She’s my very own guiding star.
A 1928 Porter.
That’s my mother dear.
‘Cause she helps me through everything I do
And I’m so glad she’s near.
My Mother the Car.
My Mother the Car.
Hadn’t really thought about it until the other day, but it has a real ick factor. Maybe that’s why TV Guide in 2002 named the 1965-66 program the second-worst TV show ever, behind only Jerry Springer Show.
So I’m reading my 2009 World Almanac – yeah, I’ve been known to do that from time to time – and I came across a listing of Cabinet officers. Cabinet secretaries are interesting in that sometimes they either go onto higher office (Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, JQ Adams, Hoover to the Presidency; John Marshall and Roger B. Taney as chief justice of the Supreme Court) or at least become well-known to this day (Daniel Webster, Alexander Hamilton).
I get to page 443 and the list of Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development (created in September 1965); they are listed:
LBJ- Robert Weaver, WA, 1966
LBJ- Robert C. Wood, MA 1969
Nixon- George W. Romney, MI, 1969
Nixon- James T. Lynn, OH, 1973
Ford- James T. Lynn, OH, 1974
Ford-Carla Anderson Hills, DC, 1975
and so forth
Then I look at the Secretaries of Transportation
LBJ- Robert Weaver, FL, 1966
Nixon- Robert C. Wood, MA 1969
Nixon- George W. Romney, CA, 1973
Ford- James T. Lynn, CA, 1974
Ford- James T. Lynn, PA, 1975
Carter-Carla Anderson Hills, WA, 1975
and so forth
The same held true for the Secretaries of Energy; Health, Education, and Welfare; Health and Human Services; Education; Veterans Affairs; and Homeland Security. The first person listed was always Robert Weaver, followed by Robert Wood. Now the President appointing always changed as was the year sworn in and home state. Weaver was appointed from VA for Energy in 1977 by Carter, for HEW from TX in 1953 by Eisenhower, from HHS from DC in 1979 by Carer, and so forth. And Wood and the other up to a dozen names followed. So it was ONLY the names that are wrong; the years, the appointing Presidents, the home states were all correct.
I found it quite bizarre.