I love old movies. It’s A Wonderful Life, Going My Way, the Marx Brothers. Old shows, from the golden age of television, also have a certain charm, innocence and entertainment factor that cannot be matched by anything on the tube today. So it was with a thrill of discovery (re-discovery?) that channel surfing rather high on the cable channels I came across a station broadcasting the old fifties to mid-sixties black-and-white game show, To Tell The Truth. This also gave me the opportunity to demonstrate my knowledge of trivia, telling my wife that the host, Bud Collyer, had provided the voice of Superman in the even older days of radio.
My wife was not overly impressed by my erudition, and we enjoyed the decades-old entertainment, old style commercials included. Just before the commercial break, after the correct Mr. So-and-So stood up (it was Mr. So-and-So number 2), and emcee Collyer bid the contestants farewell I thought I heard something that staggered me. I shook my head, thinking I must have heard incorrectly.
Eagerly awaiting the next panel of contestants, at the end as they were dismissed, I realized I had not been mistaken; my ears were not playing tricks on me. For when the guests were departing, the emcee in wishing them farewell said, “God Bless You!”
How far have we come, that outside church and someone sneezing, we do not use those three words anymore. Indeed I am rather convinced that if someone uttered those words today on TV, (s)he would be excoriated for proselytizing, acting less than hip, or worse, violating some arcane FCC convention requiring separation of church and state.
To be sure, I watched several episodes over the coming days and Bud’s parting wish of Godspeed was not an isolated instance. Of course the celebrity world is rife with people talking up some charity while leading rather dissolute lives under the mantra “Do as I say, not as I do.” Out of nothing more than curiosity I surfed the Internet for some info on the long departed Mr. Collyer. Now I am not an expert on his life and times but apparently he did put his words where his heart was. Bud taught at his local church’s Sunday school for 35 years and was a caretaker at the church. On one snowy day a parishioner called to ask if services were still on, and Bud answered that yes, “God and I are here.”
Inspiration often comes to us in the unlikeliest places, including randomly hitting on a fifties game show on an obscure cable channel. All I know is the next day at the supermarket, as I finished chatting with my favorite cashier, Mitch, and having paid my bill and loaded the cart with groceries, I did not wish Mitch my usual “good day.”
“God bless you,” I said. And of course, God Bless Bud Collyer…and all good people who happen to read this offering.