Where I Come From: Music, TV, Movies

A collage of childhood.

And then came ….

… and everything changed. In my memory it changed overnight.

No longer was I interested in bowl-cut Lance Kerwin, struggling against the school bully. No longer was I interested in the problems of … er …. ecologically conscious wilderness families running for their lives from bears. No longer was I interested in puppets.

Nope. Let’s watch that asteroid scene again, please.

Han Solo was a MAN.

I sat there watching that scene (at a drive-in, no less – in my pajamas – up way past my bedtime, crammed in a car with all of my cousins) – and knew I would never be the same again.

Lance Kerwin was my PAST. HAN SOLO was the future. No turning back.

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42 Responses to Where I Come From: Music, TV, Movies

  1. Lisa says:

    Ian frightens me.

  2. Emily says:


  3. red says:

    Lisa – hahaha I can see what you mean. He looks kind of like Ted Bundy in that picture.

    My mother and I just had a conversation about Ian & Sylvia, actually – so they were definitely on the brain.

  4. Brendan says:

    In the works right now are remakes of both ‘Escape From Witch Mountain’ and ‘Land of the Lost’.

    Excited but apprehensive because they will absolutely screw them both up.

    No amount of CGI can approach the Sleestak’s creepiness.

  5. red says:

    Emily – I mean,honestly – look at him! Trying to be all serious and British. But the eyes give him away.

  6. Emily says:

    Sheila – I know. The scarf and smoking jacket! It’s ridiculous. Look at his crazy eyes!

  7. Diana says:

    I was in love, and I mean IN LOVE with Ike Eisenmann (from Escape to Witch Mountain) and am so glad to see him up there! He was a very special part of my growing-up. He featured very large in my fantasy life.

    Hey, that reminds me that I think you would like the YA book The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean. Call it a hunch, but it made me think of you many times as I read it.

  8. Cara says:

    Whipped Cream Delights? Um Sheila? Where DID you grow up? :)

  9. jen says:

    My aboslute favorite thing, the one that made me say “awwww” and “yeah!!” at the same time was 3,2,1 Contact. I’m so glad there are others that loved it, too!

  10. jen says:

    My aboslute favorite thing, the one that made me say “awwww” and “yeah!!” at the same time was 3,2,1 Contact. I’m so glad there are others that loved it, too!

  11. jen says:

    My aboslute favorite thing, the one that made me say “awwww” and “yeah!!” at the same time was 3,2,1 Contact. I’m so glad there are others that loved it, too!

  12. Alex says:


    Oh Dear Christ!

    Brilliant, Sheila. I’m doing this. I NEED to do this.

  13. Ken says:

    I was always amazed at how the Sleestaks could be glacially slow, be stuck using crossbows with about a four-foot range, and still be genuinely creepy.

  14. just1beth says:

    Clancy Brothers/Tommy Makem almost made me cry. All I can see is my parents candle lit dining area (you know-out by the deck) on a Sunday night, waiting for Joe to arrive after the last Mass of the weekend. Made me feel like a kid again. (sigh)

  15. jen says:

    I am so, SO, SO VERY sorry my post repeated so many times.

    I was trying to do this from my phone, but I think that’s a bad idea from now on.

  16. Anne says:

    Omg, James at 15! Omg, Escape to Witch Mountain!

  17. red says:

    Jen – no worries!

    Whenever there’s trouble, we’re there on the double
    We;re the Bloodhound Gang …

  18. red says:

    Cara – I know!! In a world of folk music and musical theatre, we also had Herb Alpert’s album … which had the craziest album cover of all time … what did it mean?? I have no idea. I really should own that infamous album … it was just musical numbers, nothing salacious at all – but that cover! What???

  19. red says:

    Emily – look at Cookie’s big blue hand coming out of his smoking jacket!!!! I’m dying!

  20. red says:

    Alex – I DEMAND that you do this.

  21. red says:

    Beth – it’s like that album has our entire childhood wrapped up into it, doesn’t it??

  22. I’m with Alex. I think this was a brilliant idea, brilliantly realized.

    It’s amazing how popular culture thrusts itself upon us in our childhood and defines the touchstones for a generation. There wasn’t a picture here that struck me as unfamiliar. If a 21 year old or a 61 year old did this for their touchstones it would be a whole different story. With the 61 year old I’m sure I’d recognize everything but not feel the same connection. With the 21 year old I’d most likely just be lost.

    I’d like to do this too, but don’t feel the need. You’ve got it covered.

  23. Diana says:

    Oh, Jonathan’s comment just reminded me of a museum exhibit I saw once that was similar to this idea. There was a display case, a long continuum of “artifacts” and the further to the right you could go while recognizing items led to a prediction of your age. It was pretty accurate! And funny to melt a little bit at seeing things like computer punch cards and reel-to-reel tapes (my parents had a reel-to-reel of that Herb Alpert album you pictured), Smurf toys, etc. But there was a point at which I stopped and then unfamiliar (to me) items started appearing. Things my parents would have recognized, and then things my grandparents would have, although there was a little overlap – I could tell my kids that I recognized certain items because I’d seen them in my grandparents’ home but one had never been in MY home, for example. Really interesting to see how quickly things like this change.

  24. Den says:

    Someone once said that there were certain albums in the 70’s that just magically showed up in every kids bedroom…every house you went into you were going to see “Rumours”, “Dark side of the moon”(possibly with that free poster that came with the lp hanging on the wall), “Breakfast in America”, “Hot rocks” “Frampton comes alive”-some of the cooler kids had the Neil Young triple album “Decade” which may or may not have had some strange seeds in there when you unfolded it, and of course”American Pie” which we all knew the best song was not American Pie but Vincent(starry starry night).

  25. Emily says:

    Hahahaha! I still have a vinyl copy of Rumours! In my day, it was Thriller by Michael Jackson. If you actually met a family who didn’t have that album, you pretty much reported them to the State Department as possible KGB spies.

  26. Kathy says:

    Oh, Herb Alpert! My sister and I constantly puzzled over that photo. We couldn’t understand why Dad, who wasn’t the biggest of Herb Alpert fans (his tastes ran more to Polka) had this particular one—and nothing else of Herb’s repetoire in his record collection. Furthermore, all we could think about was if she ate her way out of all that whipped cream, because, we decided, if it was us, we would have.

    Also, Grover must have been a smoker if he got so tired explaining near and far. But that’s ok: it was the seventies and everyone smoked. ;)

    Thanks for the memories, Sheila. Very nicely done.

  27. red says:

    Yeah, my parents were more folk music and early Beatles people – so we didn’t have Rumours – but we did have Meet the Beatles, lots of Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez – and a group of student folk singers from Harvard, I believe – called The Raunch Hands. My mother, last Christmas, dug up that old album, had it transferred to CD and gave it to us all for Christmas.

    We still know all the words – it was totally creepy and awesome.

  28. Emily says:

    What an awesome Christmas present!

  29. That museum exhibit described by Diana sounds so cool.

    All of those album covers mentioned by Den are burned in my memory banks. Others I always saw or we’re in my house: Boston (the debut with the guitar city pods in outer space), Tapestry, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Doobie Brothers Greatest Hits (with the Jukebox cover), The Stranger, etc. I’ll think of more later I’m sure.

    Now I have to go listen to some novelty singles from the seventies to bring it all back. I’ll think I’ll go to YouTube and find the “No No Song”
    by Ringo Starr.

  30. red says:

    Tapestry!! Yup my parents had that too.

    And then of course – every Clancy Brothers album ever made.

  31. Kate P says:

    Perfect juxtaposition of “Masterpiece Theatre” and “Monsterpiece Theatre”! (IIRC, Cookie also ate his pipe at the end of his monologue.)

    What was “Orphan Train”? Sounds traumatizing.

  32. red says:

    Oh, Kate – it was a television movie on when I was a kid and it haunted me and captivated me so much that I wrote it all out in novel form – which I still have! Maybe I should post it in installments. I was 11 years old and I’m writing this historically based novel, pontificating about the plight of immigrants in New York in 1853. What??

    I LOVED the movie. I was OBSESSED with it. Jill Eikenberry, from LA Law (although I think this was pre LA Law) is a do-gooder missionary who lives in NYC in the mid 1800s – when immigration had bloated the city’s resources and these bands of orphans roamed the streets – with no services for them. So she put together a project called Orphan Train (this is all true – although the movie is of course a fictionalized version) – where immigrant orphan kids were placed with families on farms out in the Midwest. Not so much as adoption – but as steady work, and possibly a better quality of life … And there were these “orphan trains” that would travel out West …

    So this movie was the story of the first of those trains. Jill Eikenberry, kind of a naive church type lady, having to deal with these wild urchins – and keeping them under control – and lots of them don’t speak English …

    Words cannot express how much I adored this movie.

    It’s not out on DVD (believe me, I have checked) but I would LOVE to see it again and see if it still held up.

    Over the course of the journey, you get to know all the orphans – and love them – the Italian kids, the little girl dressed up as a boy, the tough kid from Liverpool – and you hope against hope that they will find a better life with the farming communities out in the country.

    LOVED. IT. I loved it so much it hurt. I have no idea why. I would love to see it again.

  33. Kate P says:

    O.K., less traumatizing, more heart-wrenching. Sounds well done. That’s incredible you wrote it all out!

    So out of curiosity, I plugged the title into half.com–you can get it on VHS but most are selling for upwards of $45. Isn’t your “half birthday” this month? That would make a good present. ;)

  34. red says:

    Yeah, I’ve seen that on Amazon (I’m actually on “alert lists” for if the thing ever comes out on DVD )- but a VHS is useless to me at this point.

    Maybe it’s best that my memory of it stay untouched!!

    And I do think I might post some excerpts from my first “novel”, written at age 10, called Orphan Train.

  35. Sal says:

    This is so great. I am loving your childhood.

    Eickenberry was in a PBS series for the Bicentennial, along with William Hurt, Victor Garber, and Sigourney Weaver. They followed three families from 1876 to the turn of the century. I remember it as being well-done. She was a major character- the daughter of the middle-class minister, some thing of a reformer. A little type-casting going on?

  36. melissa says:


    I loved much of what you’ve got here – had 3-2-1 Contact flashbacks… and I thought the best part of the recent Underdog movie was that the old TV show came out on DVD!

  37. red says:

    Sal – I don’t remember that bicentennial special you mention – it sounds great! I always liked Jill Eikenberry – and was strangely proud of her when she hit the big time with LA Law – mainly because she had appeared in my favorite movie of all time – Orphan Train.

  38. Westside B says:

    Well, you got me on that photo from ANNIE. (Apologies to Han Solo…)

    One of my first legit jobs was a design assistant on the original show. A year later I was back, and was sent to drop off stuff for the first National Company tour auditions in 890 Broadway. I can still recall navigating the stairwell lined with 250 kids and stage moms rehearsing “Tomorrow” in every conceivable (and inconceivable) key and tempo. Whew, that picture brought back some frightful memories!

    Arf goes Sandy…


  39. red says:

    Westside B – I love that anecdote!!!

    The original cast recording of Annie was the first record I actually owned – that was all mine.

  40. Jay says:

    Land of the Lost.
    Loved it, but I could never figure out why the Marshall clan was frightened by the sleestaks. Cha Ka and his clan I could understand, but you would think it would have taken only one encounter with the painfully slow and inept sleestaks for Rick, Will and Holly to realize that all they needed to do was turn and walk away at a less than ponderous pace and all would be well.

  41. red says:

    //walk away at a less than ponderous pace//

    hahahahahahahahahaha I know!!!

  42. Orphan Train: The Novel. By me. Age 11.

    As I mentioned in this post – the television movie Orphan Train, from 1979 – starring Jill Eikenberry – was one of those moments, as a kid, where I went into a fever of obsession. A fever, I tell you!…

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