In the 1960s, my family’s television set was in the basement rec room. On Saturday nights we trooped downstairs as a family to watch Jackie Gleason.
My father was a huge Jackie Gleason fan. In his heavy days, my father looked something like Jackie Gleason.
My sister and I loved everything about the show. The June Taylor dancers with their Busby Berkeley kaleidoscope formations, the monologue, bandleader Sammy Spear, Reggie Van Gleason, the Poor Soul, Joe the Bartender with Crazy Guggenheim, and the Honeymooner skit. We were happy when my parents laughed. It was a good hour.
When my father died in 1977, my friend Gabby gave me a collection of TV Guide covers featuring Gleason. We were both still working for the United Farm Workers. He was in the very early days of collecting. He picked these up in Long Beach visiting Henry Giler, a lawyer who had helped us out in our battles with the Teasmters. Henry fought in the Spanish Civil War with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. He was captured by the fascists in March 1938 and released from the POW camp in April 1939. In World War 2 he served in the US Navy and fought in the Guam, Leyte, Luzon and Okinawa operations, A wonderful man. But I digress.
The Jackie Gleason covers, which I wish I still had:
Who knew that he was so popular. He was.
My friend has read more than his share about the paranormal. He tells me that Jackie Gleason was a big paranormal / UFW guy, that he was a devout follower of Long John Nebel, a very popular night radio host who never saw a UFO claim, alien abduction story, or conspiracy theory that he didn’t gobble up.
This does not change my opinion of Jack Gleason. He was a funny man. He made my family laugh. We had happy hours because of him.
My friend knew my father and had an appreciation for my father’s sense of humor. He liked my father’s fish tank and enjoyed watching my father use a slide rule.
My friend is one of the few people whom I’ve met who knew Bertie’s Escapade, a book that my father read us out loud every Christmas of my life until his last Christmas in 1976 when he read half of it and then handed it to me to finish.
I asked my friend what he thought of all the Jackie Gleason stuff.