The Soapbox Corral
(What Would Jess Do?)
I had to spend some time in and out of hospitals since birth. One such hospital stay was in the fall of 1960, I was 7 years old. I was born and raised a "Jersey" girl but was always hospitalized in a major New York city hospital.A long way from my home.
Now any of my family members could tell you that there were only 2 things that would bring me to a complete halt, eyes big and staring and mouth open. The first was "Speedy Alka-Seltzer", don't ask !! and the second was "Jess Harper" on Laramie! Easy to see why my first and only concern when told that I would be going to the hospital again was "Am I going to miss any "Laramie" episodes? Just like a kid to worry about the important stuff !
There were 10 children in an open ward with one small black&whiteTV set mounted high up on the wall. Since I was an old timer to this hospital stuff, I immediately sought out and found all the other Laramie-holics on my floor. We were a small but fiesty group.
A deal was struck with the other children, they could watch whatever they wanted 7 days a week, as long as we got to watch Laramie every week. Another unspoken & unwritten deal was struck with the staff & nurses. There were to be no N&N (needles & nasties) while Laramie was on. This was our time ,our one hour a week to forget about the pain & sickness all around us.Our one hour to escape, in our minds, from what we couldn't escape from in our bodies.
That show was a life preserver to us ! Laramie was just plain "Good Medicine" !! We all wanted to be Andy, as we figured life couldn't be any better than to be healthy, riding horses & having a bunch of critters as play mates!!
Now, I don't know exactly how this next incident came about but one day we all decided that we just couldn't take any more of this hospital and the N&N, etc. So, we thought "what would "Jess "do? Well, he'd bust out of there, right?!!
Now I was the only one of our small band who was ambulatory, so I was elected to make the break.During shift change I got into my street clothes, took the elevator down to the lobby and simply walked right out of that hospital !! My intent was to walk from New York City to my home in central New Jersey !! and then come back for my pards ! What the hell was I thinking?!!Oh well, I would have made it too, except I stopped to wave to my partners in crime who were watching out a 7th floor window.
As I turned around I ran smack into 2 nurses from our floor who were just coming on duty. I was BUSTED!!! Big time!! I received a good tongue lashing, my mother was called & worst of all they decided to use my Laramie addiction against me.!! Anymore trouble and we would not be able to watch our favorite show.!! So, we behaved but secretly we thought that "Jess" would have been proud of us !!
I eventually got to go home, but some of my hospital friends were not so lucky.I will always think of the entire cast & crew of Laramie with the fondest affection. They didn't know it, but they made life a little more tolerable for group of sick children. I know some may say that it was only a TV show & that they were just doing their jobs, what they were getting paid to do. But to us, they were our heroes !! What we wanted to be and do if we were not sick. Most importantly, they gave us hope for the future and an escape from a world that we couldn't quite understand.I would just like to say thank you to all involved in the making of this wonderful show.This "old cowgirl" will never forget you. Sincerely, Diane Kwolek