Don’t you worry none, we’ll just take it like it comes, one day at a time.

images-2From the time I was 9 to about 13, my mother worked shifts at the hosiery factory and couldn’t afford a sitter.  When she was on days — or when she was sleeping days because she was on nights — my babysitters were the TV and books checked out of the library.  Sometimes the books were inappropriate, and the librarian would give me the eye at the check out counter.  If she pressed me, I’d lie and say my mother had asked me bring them home for her.  That’s how I found the Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele and Sidney Sheldon.  The TV shows that kept me company weren’t always that appropriate either — remember Love, American Style? — but that’s what happens when nobody’s home.

My afternoons were filled with kid stuff: Gilligan’s Island, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family.  But during my summers alone, morning TV played reruns of adult-themed shows like All In The Family.  My favorite, by far, was One Day at a Time.  Bonnie Franklin played Ann Romano, a spunky, single, working mom in a rundown apartment  raising willful daughters, one of whom was a brown-haired, basketball playing, tomboy just like me.  Or so it seemed at the time.  I never missed an episode and watched the reruns for years afterward.

Looking back I can see how much I was comforted by the show’s premise.  I didn’t know any other girls with a single mom, and I identified completely with their circumstances and their problems, with their underlying love for each other even with all the yelling, with the lessons they were constantly learning as an all-female house in a world dominated by men.  I held tight to the story of their constant, if fictional, survival.

I read today that Bonnie Franklin has died.  Pancreatic cancer.  Age 69.  Rest in peace, Bonnie — and thank you for your Ann Romano.  Somewhere there’s music playing.

18 thoughts on “Don’t you worry none, we’ll just take it like it comes, one day at a time.

  1. Pamela

    It sounds like we had similar childhoods, Teri. I grew up in a house with a red-haired sister who was one year older and a single, independent mom. I loved Bonnie and One Day at at Time. I appreciate hearing about her death from someone who understands what Bonnie Franklin meant to those of us who were latch-key children, so thank you. Rest in Peace, Bonnie.

    1. Teri Carter

      Particularly during the summers, the books and the TV were my saviors. I remember I’d read mostly in early mornings, and also at midday when the soap operas came on —- even as a 10 year old I could concentrate on my book and keep up with the soaps’ story lines at the same time. I remember One Day at a Time, followed by Alice (another single mom, but with a son), All in the Family, and The Jeffersons.

      Who needed a clock? I knew the time of day by the TV.

      1. Pamela

        I did the same thing. I wonder how many of us are living parallel lives.

        If Susan Lucci dies, we’re going to need to call a summit for all of the grieving 1970’s latch-key children. I cannot take it.

  2. Les

    I felt sad today to learn of her passing. I loved that show, and all the others you mention. OMG, Love American Style! Was that inappropriate?? It was on in the afternoon, right?

    1. Teri

      Where I was, LAS was on in the mornings right before The Young and The Restless. See what I mean? How sad that I remember that but can’t do any math.

  3. Downith

    Ah yes, all these shows I remember so well, including Love, American Style. (That theme song is now in my head, Teri. “Love American Style, truer than the red, white and blue…”)

    1. Teri

      There was nothing else like Gilligan’s Island. They made being shipwrecked look like the perfect lifestyle, and I always thought the Professor and Mary Ann would be the perfect couple if he’d stop paying so much attention to that flashy redhead!

  4. Josey

    i loved that show.
    loved, loved, loved one day at a time (i just googled the theme song for you below)

    poor mackenzie, right? what a fucking dickweed of a dad she had.

    yesterday, our after school sitter and my 9yr old daughter got their lines crossed. our sitter thought my daughter had drama club and drove to the school to pick her up. my daughter didn’t go to drama club and rode the bus home, since the sitter was at the school, no one was home to meet my daughter and she FREAKED out. i was in a meeting and had a missed called from her, sobbing, begging, “please come home, i’m all by myself.” as i’m listening to my voicemail, my husband calls and is panicked b/c our daughter reached him (and he was a good 2-hours from our house) crying up a storm. “Where’s the sitter? Why is she home alone?”

    Seriously, it was deafcon 4 at our house. all because my daughter was home alone for MAYBE 20 miinutes (I got a hold of the sitter and she was on her way to the house after realizing there wasn’t drama club after all.)

    The crisis was averted easy enough, but the thought hung in my head about how it was a crisis at all. A 9 year old home alone. I kept wondering if I was under-reacting by not completely freaking out, or if the rest of the family was overreacting.

    I then i read your post! Also, here are some good One Day at a Time tidbits:
    –they were in Indianapolis
    –the show was written by Norman (Lear)
    –According to Wikipedia, “The show stars Broadway character and former child actress Bonnie Franklin as Ann Romano, a woman who, echoing sentiments common to the 1970s, felt that she had always been either someone’s daughter, wife, or mother and wanted to “find herself.”

    1. Teri

      We were at a dinner a few years ago, one of those dinners with work-people you don’t know all that well, and I mentioned that I stayed alone at age 9 etc… One of the women went into convulsions and said, “That’s child abandonment! Your mother would be reported to the police if that happened here!”

      Yeah, well. Fuck her. I figured I wouldn’t like her anyway.

  5. macdougalstreetbaby

    It was my staple, too. I wanted to be Valerie Bertinelli so friggin’ bad. I still love her, to this day.

  6. Lyra

    I loved that show. But my absolute favorite was Facts of Life. Living up at school with a group of kids. I wanted to be Jo so badly. I loved her and her tough-guy attitude. I wonder whatever happened to her.

  7. girl in the hat

    I was home alone just like you. We didn’t turn out so bad, right? I mean, we’re not scarred forever since our moms were out there working, we kept ourselves busy and didn’t get into too much trouble, right? I’m reading this at the perfect time, starting work this week, so thank you for this reminder.

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  9. Erika Marks

    Teri, I can’t believe I missed this wonderful tribute. I was about to hit the road on Friday for a signing when I read this news and was really very crushed. I have SUCH strong memories of Bonnie’s characterization, of that family and those sisters, and the spunk and nerve they all possessed. Now as a mom, I sing that theme song to my girls before bedtime (I sing pretty much all the 70s and 80s themes–my kind of lullabies and they are kind to indulge me)

    Thank you for sharing in our collective memory.

    1. Teri

      Ha. I, too, am known for walking around this house singing these theme songs. How I love this one: “This is it, this is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball.” It’s sounds corny as hell, but I love the base truths in them.

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