March 26, 2001

Looking for a Needle with My Head Between My Knees

horoscopeGot up early and took the Metro to the Library of Congress today to start looking for my mother’s episode of It Could Be You. The Reference Librarian pulled the microfiche rolls of NBC’s master scheduling list for the dates they had. Each roll contains 3 or 4 days worth of daily schedules, timed program scripts plus transcripts for each show.

I was amazed to be viewing this history. Transcripts of early Today show episodes with Dave Garroway and company reveal a great slice into that time. I was less amazed by the effect scrolling a microfilm reader has on my stomach. Watching pages and pages zoom by at a fast pace can get to you after a while.

When the librarian discovered I would have to go through multiple rolls she said “Oh no! Your task is daunting!” I knew it would take some time but couldn’t quite understand her reaction. After a couple of hours I had to put my head between my knees and take numerous breaks. As I packed up for the day I sheepishly asked her if anyone ever complained of nausea. “All the time,” she stated. That’s why I said your task would be daunting.” I guess I will have to research this in short spurts.

It Could Be You aired nationally from 1956 until 1961. One of the reference books on the subject says the first show was in June 1956 but we found a copy from April. I have no idea when her program aired so I had to try and recall anything that might help pinpoint my search. I remember that my mother’s club acted as “spies” for the program, gathering information they could use to highlight her life.

I was sick and home from school one day when her friends (the spies) came over for coffee. The local tax assessor was due to come to the house to reassess my parents’ property tax. I don’t know when they stopped doing this. Today it would be a bureaucratic nightmare to have individual agents come to each house to check on new purchases, but that’s what they did back then. My mother’s friends were told not to tell the assessor about our new lamp. Of course, that made it on national television, much to her chagrin. Was my mother a Reality TV pioneer?!

How my parents met was also part of the show. On their first date, they exchanged walnuts with their names written on each. I remember the real nuts were disintegrating and were only being held together with rubber bands. She received a pair of candle holders with nut replicants encased in plastic as one of her parting gifts.

So, I was about 7 or 8 at the time. Since I was sick, perhaps it was Fall or Winter. Maybe it was March. I’m having a hard time separating facts and memories from wishful thinking.

The Library of Congress doesn’t have every episode but does have just about every master schedule. So, even though they may not have my mother’s I am hoping to, at least, find her transcript. Reading others is intriguing and gives some insight into contemporary television’s “evolution” for finding the best hook to gain market share. Take a look at this transcript from one of the shows (the names and important dates have been changed to protect their anonymity).

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