One of my earliest memories is of watching my grandmother ironing clothes and watching "As the World Turns."
For over 50 years, from April 2, 1956 to September 17, 2010, that soap was a part of my grandmother's life. She followed the lives of the residents of Oakdale, Ill., for all those years. Then, it was gone.
Last week, we found out that two more long-running soaps are on the chopping block as well. "All My Children" and "One Life to Live," will go dark in the next year. In 1970, there were 19 soap operas in production. Today there are six. With the cancellations announced last week, only four remain.
Aside from a stint in college watching the saga of Luke and Laura on "General Hospital" between classes, I never got the soap opera bug. I have a bigger problem understanding what's replacing the soaps -- reality shows.
I don't know about the rest of you, but my own life seems too close to a soap opera at times to need to see any on the television. And, my reality is exciting enough that I don't feel the need to watch shows on extreme couponers or teenage moms behaving badly.
I will, however, admit an unhealthy love of the show "American Pickers," and I often spend entire Sunday afternoons following golf tournaments on the television.
But, for some reason, the loss of more soap operas makes me a little sad, and a little nostalgic for the days when soap operas reigned. Those were the days when moms, for the most part, stayed home. The soaps were a nice distraction when doing the laundry, or cleaning house. Things moved a bit more slowly, we had time to take a little break to follow the fictional lives of the folks in the fictional town of Oakdale, Ill.
My grandma, for her part, is still going strong even as the soaps fade away. Nearing her 98th birthday, she came for a visit this past weekend from her home in Northwood. A reality show on her life would be one worth watching.
Speaking of classy ladies, we lost one this past weekend, as Opal Swanson lost her battle with cancer.
Opal was a part of the Daily Reporter family for over 30 years, before retiring last April.
The mailroom ran smoothly, and area residents always got their papers with all the advertising inserts included, for all those years thanks in large part to Opal.
She was a gentle, always smiling presence, moving quickly and with purpose. I never saw her lose her cool, get distressed, or raise her voice in all the years I worked with her.
We'll miss her.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family.