I interviewed my aunt, Kay, who just recently turned 70. I’ve always been close with her, but was able to learn a different side of her.
Music for me plays a huge importance in my life; this was one of my favorite sections to talk about with Kay. It took me by surprise though when she said that she wasn’t into Elvis and The Beatles. I know those were two huge influences in a lot of young people’s lives back then so it was nice to hear some other names. Some of her favorite artists were Frank Sinatra , Neil Sedaka, Rod McKuen, Barry Manalow, Dean Martin, and Neil Diamond. Kay explained to me how she had a lot 45 vinyl records which were about .99 and a one track release. In my mind, I reference it to a single you can buy on iTunes. Back then she explained to me how music wasn’t how it is now. Heavy metal and rock came later, so her parents never really got on her case like mine did when I was younger. The type of music she listened to was more peaceful, happy, and light hearted. She explained Rod McKuen as being more of a poetic, this was one of her favorites.
When Kay was younger, she said that her parents were the ones who listened to the radio more than ever. Arthur Godfrey was big on the radio. Some memories she does have about the radio include listening to it while they were on the lake with her friends and that there was limited channels, roughly around three or four. Knowing what the radio was like when I was younger, and even today, this surprised me. She also brought up memories about listening to a local news station that’s big in the Twin Cities, Minnesota; a news and radio station called WCCO. One of the hosts she remembers listening to and watching religiously was a man Dave Moore. He wasn’t your average host; he had a sense of humor. My grandfather, who I never got the chance to meet was into sports, which explains a lot of why Kay would listen to the Minnesota Gopher Team with her dad on the radio too. I would hold onto those memories too.
Dragenet was a mystery show that first aired in the early ‘50s. That and a medical show, Medic, were her two favorite television series. Although, Medic was short lived when her father said it was too graphic. When I asked about if the television had changed the family dynamics she explained to me that while she found favorites, television was different than it was today. Not only did her parents encourage them to play outside and enjoy the time with friends and family, the programs they aired back then was more “fairy tale” like, a lot more clean. They didn’t have to worry about what was being watched. The Mickey Mouse Club was another series she enjoyed watching and it helped that her favorite actress, Annette Funicello. I was curious to know if she watched any series with her family (you see so many ads with families gathered around t.v.s, I was just curious) and she said not really. Her dad watched a lot of westerns. They did enjoy watching Lawrence Welk and the Ed Sullivan show which was the first time they aired The Beatles and Elvis. “They didn’t show Elvis from the waist down because his hips were moving in a provactive manner, but I’m telling you Katy, it was harmless. Not like pulling a Miley Cyrus and twerking all over the stage!” I just about died.
I’ve always known my aunt was big into politics, but I never knew where it stemmed from. She explained to me, it was her sophomore year in high school is when it began. Watching documentaries, the news, and most importantly, watching President Kennedy get elected. It was because of him and following his campaign every step of the way that helped her redirect her life. When he was assassinated, it will be 50 years this November, she spent 4 days in front of the t.v. But, I’ll touch on more about his influence on her life later.
My other favorite media outlet! Kay remembers the good ‘ol black and white Hollywood days as she calls it. Where the majority of movies were westerns and love stories. Unlike today, back then film makers and screen writers never showed a couple in bed. Apparently the rules we have or don’t have today weren’t as strict as they were back then. When I asked what her favorite movies were back then her first response was Gone with the Wind and Love Story. Apparently it was a real tear jerker. Movies back then were a lot more classier. The stars were beautiful and glamours. Women were always in gowns looking their prime, while the men were always put together in suits. It was a place you could go to escape from your everyday life. Lead a new adventure or fairy tale dream and watch it unfold on the screen. There was no swearing or nudity. “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” was considered harsh language which came right out of Gone with the Wind, and the first ranchy movie she could think of was a movie called, Deep Throat.
Newspapers and Magazines:
Television for my aunt has been her primary source of how she receives her information, but she still loves her newspapers and radio. Going off of what I said earlier, she loves politics. As she explained to me, “I like real things, I prefer non-fiction over fiction.” But before Kennedy days, she was heavily into fashion. I believe it too, she’s always had such a great taste in outfits, always looks her prime whenever I see her, and it just so happens too that her mother was a model. Once she started following President Kennedy, her outlook had changed. While she’s still human and has her guilty pleasure T.V shows, some of her favorite magazines she remembers reading cover to cover were Newsweek and Life Magazine.
Like I said, my aunt follows politics very closely. One thing she said was that President Kennedy changed her life. When I asked how he influenced her she said that she dropped her job in fashion and eventually joined a group called Vista which is similar to the peace corp. She worked for over a year in Baltimore helping the homeless. She said, “I remember being their and someone came up to me asking for more food because the rats ate the last of their peanut butter” Her life really did change because of President Kennedy.
I was curious to know whether or not she believe the news has gotten better now verse then. I honestly thought she was going to say back then, because I know I’m overwhelmed by all the information I get bombarded with each day. Somedays I wish I could go back 20 years when it was just the newspaper, magazines, or t.v. But to my surprise, she said that the news has gotten better. When I asked why she thought that, her response, “Because it’s covered 24 hours” and referenced CNN (which is one of her favorites) and how now we have live reporters. She likes that she can see what’s going on in the world and not just hear about it from a guy sitting in a newsroom. Which is something I never really thought about and realized it was one of the many luxuries I was taking for granted.
The biggest ways Kay ingests her media today is pretty classic in my mind. While she has her t.v shows like Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelor/Bachelorette, politics and the news has always been high on her list. She doesn’t have the internet or any social media vices but in my mind, she doesn’t need them. While Kay believes that media has gotten better, there is a lot of unnecessary criticism that takes place. She believes in free speech and understands that everyone has a voice. While this maybe true her example of unnecessary criticism came from election time. I know we’re related when she explained that everyone has their own beliefs and views. No matter if your democratic or republican, everyone has a voice. But there’s no need to sit and bash the other during debates and commercials. Get to the point, there’s no need to sit and point fingers at what the other one is or isn’t doing. Digging up dirt isn’t going to do our country any good, the bottom line is what and how are you going to lead us? One party is going to hate it either way, the comeback of how much you “hate” the other person isn’t going to make a difference. It’s the actions you do.
On a lighter note, she believes that the media is far more interesting. It’s more open and you know everything you want to know. With the media being so big and a wide variety of it, you can find out everything you want to know, you can follow more, stay up to date on what you’re interested in. Kay believes there are a lot of good things on the television and internet, it’s what where you direct your attention to. “It’s a free country and I love it! Just because like something doesn’t mean everyone should follow suit!”