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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

The World Stopped Turning

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       I am SO set in my ways.

       As the clock struck one Friday afternoon, I turned on the TV to watch the final-ever episode of the CBS soap opera "As The World Turns".

       I tuned to channel 12, just as I did all those years ago when, as a little kid, my mom would tell me to "put on my story", as she called it.

        CBS was the home of the "As The World Turns" clan for each of it's 54 years on the air, but 12 hasn't been a CBS station since I went to college in the mid 70's.   

        Old habits die hard.   Either that, or the spirit of my late mom was telling me one more time to "put on my story".


        From Channel 12 to Channel 6 and now, on CBS 58.    From black and white to color.    From a Sheboygan duplex, through college in Stevens Point to the home I live in today.    The denizens of fictional Oakdale were always there, even when I wasn't (I haven't watched an episode in ions) to provide that little bit of continuity in life.    No matter where you were, if you were an ATWT fan, you could always plug into a little bit of home.

        I'm sure it was the same if your mom was a "General Hospital" fan, or if she liked "Another World".   It was portable.   It was constant.  

        Mom watched every day--I mean, EVERY DAY--even though the story moved at a glacial pace.    The Hughes' and the Stewarts were like kinfolk to our family.     Mom worked hard and had a set task for every day (Monday and Thursday were dedicated to laundry, Tuesday and Thursday to ironing with Wednesday and Friday devoted to cleaning).    She'd shut down at 12:30 every afternoon though, giving herself a 30 minute reprieve to find out what was up with Chris, Nancy, Penny, Dr. Bob and his trampy wife Lisa.     And that's probably why the show went away.    There aren't many women like my mom who are home every day to watch.    That, and the fact that soaps are more expensive to make than talk and reality shows (a women's gabfest replaces "ATWT").  

      It's the show we watched as Walter Cronkite broke in to tell the nation that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.   it would be the last entertainment program CBS would air for four days.     When that hellish weekend ended, "As The World Turns" picked up right where it had left off the previous Friday afternoon, a reconnection to normalcy so many adults seemed to need, an assurance that life as we knew it would, indeed, return.


        The story lines got steamier over the years, the characters got younger and hotter and seemed to wear far fewer clothes.   Kisses got deeper, wetter, and lasted longer.     And, you saw far more unmade bedding, if you get my drift.     Even the commercials changed: no longer are women portrayed as dim house mavens looking desperately for a way to rid their linoleum floors of dreaded wax buildup.     Females in the ads of today are strong, in charge, and in one case borrowing their daughter's blouses for hot nights on the town.

        Unlike any soap I'd ever seen before, this afternoon's "As The World Turns" finale seemed to feature nothing but happy endings.    There were parents who cried as their kids moved away, only to end up on the floor lustily christening a new house.    There were couples reunited, others freshly engaged, some moving on to new stages in their life.    There were no break-ups, divorces or affairs.    No character was left with amnesia.   No one plunged to their death in a fiery crash.     No long-gone actor or actress suddenly reappeared years after mysteriously disappearing.

        No character "broke the wall" to speak to the audience.    There were no sappy montages saluting those who came and left over the past half-century.     As in real life, there were no credits endlessly rolling across the credits as theme music played.    

        A show that had been around for a lot of our lives just ended suggesting that life for the folks in Oakdale goes on, even though we won't be watching their every move any more.   A bit of video comfort food, a link to our past, a silly and frivolous connection to simpler, more humble times, left the screen.   

       And, the world still turns.

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