Flipping the channels yesterday, I unexpectedly came across an episode of this.
I hadn't thought of this show for...geez, decades, I suppose. It ran for a season and a half back in the mid-seventies, and it never really lived on in syndication. Like most TV, it was there briefly, then gone forever.
But seeing it again, with that montage-heavy opening, so typical of its era, and Merle Haggard's theme song, and Claude Akins' craggy face and Frank Converse's epic moustache, I was suddenly transported back in time, to a very specific and vivid memory.
I'm sitting on one end of the couch with comic books scattered on the floor around me, and my oldest brother Keith sits on the other end, a paperback in his hand, though he's watching more than reading. Dad is in his recliner, his ever-present can of Grain Belt beside him, and Mom in her chair. My brother John, sipping an iced tea in his rocking chair, watches as well, though perhaps ironically. My sister Julie sits at the old school desk beside the couch, a textbook and paper in front of her.
The TV is tuned to Movin' On, of course, and it's still the old black-and-white Philco, not the Quasar color set we'd acquire by the time this show reached its second season, when we could see Akins' Kenworth rig in all its green glory. Dad and Keith keep a running commentary going about that Kenworth, about how they show it doing things it simply wasn't capable of, and Keith uses the phrase "Hollywood jive" to describe the show more than once.
Mom watches intermittently, looking up whenever Converse is onscreen, returning to her cozy British mystery novel whenever the focus shifts back to Akins. Julie is completely disengaged from the whole thing, scribbling furiously at her homework.
Me, I'm just sort of there, zoning in and out, happy just to have a moment with so many of us together. My brother Mike is already married, my sister Ann off to college, but here the rest of us sit, gathered around the cathode-ray fireplace, everything else in the world miles away, and I am content.