The "Perfect" Leave it to Beaver Family of the Fifties
See this family? It isn't real. This is the cast of a television show of the Fifties called "Leave it to Beaver." This was pictured as the typical American family. It is not.
Growing up I watched this show where the dad always arrived at the dinner table (which was always in the dining room) dressed in a suit of a sport coat. Our family ate at in our kitchen. We didn't have a dining room in our roach infested, second floor apartment at 120 Washington Avenue in Downingtown, PA.
Our family, my brother Isaac, Mom and me on an outing at the park in the Forties
Our dad (we called him "Pop") wore his dirty T-shirt to the dinner table. Same with me and my two brothers. T-shirts. Sometimes in the summer when it was too hot (no air conditioning in those days - the Fifties) we usually were shirtless.
Barbara Billingsley, the actress who played the mother on this fictional TV series was always dressed in a crinoline puffed up shirt dress. She always wore pearls. My Mom wearing pearls? No way, she was too busy making biscuits to feed her always hungry brood of menfolk.
Watching this show I thought "Someday....someday.....I'll have a family like that." Well, as everyone of you know (without exception), there is NO FAMILY LIKE THIS ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH.
Bob - my First Love on his wedding day (not to me)
Recently I posted a couple of blogs about my first lover. Some of his family members read my blog and contacted me. They very kindly filled me in on information about my first love's life after we parted company in early 1964. Bob, my first love's name, was a married man. I knew that when I was seeing him. I assumed he had a happy home life and I was a pleasant diversion for him. He was my first lover. We saw each other for a few months until I came to the decision that a long term relationship was not in our future. I ended our relationship and I assumed he went on to a happy life.
When I watched "Leave it to Beaver" in the Fifties I assumed that was a real family and most real families had that same kind of life. I knew that I didn't have that kind of life at home but I thought our family was the anomaly. Little did I know. Our family was typical. We were dysfunctional. Not big time dysfunctional but we had issues.
Now that I am a mature adult (in most ways anyway, in some areas I am still woefully naive), I have discovered that ALL FAMILIES ARE DYSFUNCTIONAL. Not the least of which was my former lover's family.
I have since found out that he had two illegitimate children from a women he met when he lived in Coos Bay, Oregon. I talked to his look alike daughter today. She never met her father which is a real shame because he was a charming and vibrant man. It doesn't seem right that I had more time with her father than she did.
When I was seeing Bob, he was married (legitimately) with three small children. He had two sons and a daughter. One of his sons read my blog posting and contacted me and told me information about his father's life after we parted ways. It turns out that Bob got divorced and married again with three more children. All the while he kept his homosexuality hidden.
The woman he was married to when when he was seeing me, wrote a book about her life and her "spiritual journey." She doesn't paint a favorable picture of Bob. In fact, she portrays Bob as a devil. I have no other way to describe her portrayal and remain respectful of her and what she went through at that time. I truly sympathize with her because she was deceived in her marriage.
When I got out of high school I had a girl friend who I liked very much. But even at that young age (17), I knew a marriage would never work. In spite of the fact that I was sexually inexperienced in both the gay sense and straight, I knew that sooner or later my homosexuality would destroy our marriage. I could not to that to her or myself.
I understand why Bob got married. I remember very clearly the societal pressure to conform and get married. I seriously even considered it because I wanted that "Leave it to Beaver" family. But in my heart of hearts I knew it could never be for me. I just could not do it. Which was really weird because I didn't know how to be gay either. Not only was I dysfunctional as a straight person, I was a dysfunctional gay. I didn't know the first thing about sex.
How ironic then that the first person to introduce me to gay sex was a married man who stayed in the closet his whole life. A man who had eight children, two out of wedlock. A married man who disapproved of his adult daughter sleeping in the same bed in his house with her boyfriend of eight years in spite of the fact that the daughter and boyfriend had been living in their own house for years.
As I wrote in a previous blog posting, Bob was the catalyst that caused me to out myself as a gay man in 1963. This was way before such an action was fashionable as it is now. In fact, back when I came out I was illegal. I was breaking the law by declaring my homosexuality There was no "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" back in those days. If you declared your homosexuality, you were writing your death sentence, sometimes literally. I certainly doomed any career chances I had in the world which proved to be true.
But I have no regrets. I don't even have regrets that I am not living the "Leave it to Beaver" family. In fact, I don't know anybody who is. Do you?
A meal with friends - definitely not "Leave it to Beaver" style