TV: It’s all smoke and mirrors

A humorous item from the past: If you’ve ever wondered what’s actually on a letter or document that someone in a TV show is reading, here’s a good example from “Leave it to Beaver” (Season 2: Episode 6 “Her Idol,” at time stamp 18:35)

Beaver Letter

Mr. Ward Cleaver
435 Mapleton Drive
Mayfield, State

My Dear Mr. Cleaver,

This paragraph has absolutely nothing to do with anything; it is here only to fill up space. Still, it is words, rather than repeated letters, since the letter might not give the proper appearance, namely, that of an actual note.

For that matter, all of this is nonsense, and the only part of this that is to be read is the last paragraph, which part is the inspired creation of the producers of this very fine series.

Another paragraph of stuff. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. My typing is lousy, but the typewriter isn’t hot either. After all, why should I take the blame for these mechinal imperfections, with which all of us must contend. Lew Burdette just hit a home run and Milwaukee leads seven to one in the series. This is the last line of the filler material of the note. Oh, my mistake, that was only next to last. This is last.

I hope you can find a suitable explanation for Theodore’s unusual conduct.

Yours truly,
Cornelia Rayburn

Ja ja, so ist das Theater, mein Lieber. Nichts als Illusion.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Tongan Television

Working in an international office can be an educational experience. For 22 years I associated with people from all over the world – in addition to Europeans, we had colleagues from many countries in Latin America and the Pacific – and every Monday we would gather for an inspirational meeting to get the week started off right. Often the designated speaker would present an aspect of their home culture, and I had a chance to learn some fascinating things over time.


This is a “Tongan television.” Actually, it’s a neck-rest, or pillow of sorts; the first time I saw something like this was at the Natural History Museum’s Egyptian exhibit in New York – I was probably around six or seven, and I remember wondering, “how in the world do they sleep on those things?”


Later I learned that this particular type was typically used for supporting the head of mummified corpses, but the Tongan ones are most definitely used for sleeping or resting.

There’s no way I can convey the same feeling that I had as my colleague described the tradition of the family’s gathering together after dark, and listening to the patriarch tell stories. Stories of customs and traditions and legends, all designed to pass on to the next generation the family ways of honor and decency.

Sometimes, in Tongan society, a child would go their own way and fail to honor family traditions, getting in trouble or living dissipated lives. Of such children, it was often elegantly said that they “didn’t sleep close.”

The Old Wolf has spoken.