By Donna Johns
Big Brother Bob Emery opened his television show with a ukulele rendition of “The Grass is Always Greener in the Other Feller’s Yard.” Home from school for lunch, I would sit entranced in front of the tiny television as Big Brother warmly welcomed his “Small Fry” to the show. I was a card-carrying member of the Small Fry Club, as were all my friends.
Big Brother led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a Hail to the Chief toast to the portrait of Dwight Eisenhower. Of course, we all toasted with milk. Then, he would show a Popeye cartoon, have a little puppet show, and teach us about manners like saying “please” and “thank you.” He signed off with another ukulele song: “So Long, Small Fry. It’s Time to Say Goodbye.”
I envied the children spread out on the carpet around Big Brother. I wanted nothing more than to meet him and hear his kindly voice praise me for one thing or another. Then, he began collecting money for good causes in the community, starting with relief money for the Worcester Tornado victims.
When I was a Brownie, I suggested that we help raise money for the Jimmy Fund and take it to Big Brother. Everyone was excited, and we begged for money from every relative. With a tidy sum collected, we got our invitation to attend the show. I was in heaven.
We arrived at the studio, and one of Big Brother’s “helpers” whipped us into shape. We were on the right side of his chair. Cub Scouts sat to his left. We waited for Big Brother to arrive. And waited. And waited some more. Suddenly, there was a flurry of activity and my hero walked right past us, said not a word, sat down with a sigh, and began strumming. We were on television.
The man never acknowledged us. No compliment for our much practices, crisp salute to the flag. No pat on the head. He never even took our envelope of money. He thanks the Cub Scouts instead. When the show was finished, he walked briskly out of the studio.
I went home and threw my Small Fry Club membership card away. I never watched Big Brother again.
MORAL: It’s fine to have heroes. Just don’t meet them.
Donna is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater and BOLLI member. She has two fantastic faux knees which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.