On Sunday, Ann B. Davis, the Emmy award-winning actress who became America’s most famous housekeeper playing Alice Nelson on The Brady Bunch, died at a San Antonio hospital. She was 88. There was a lot of news to cover this morning, but Glenn chose to open the radio program reflecting on the era Davis and her beloved character represented. While it is nice to be nostalgic – especially given what is going on in the world today – Glenn highlighted some of the strides we have made.
“I want to start with the death of Ann B. Davis,” Glenn said. “And I know that’s not where anyone else will start. But Ann B. Davis died.”
“That’s probably not, like, where Rush will start today,” Pat joked.
While Davis’ passing may not be the most newsworthy story of the day, Glenn found himself quite nostalgic when he heard of her death.
“The reason why this struck me is because of the times that we’re living in,” Glenn said. “The moment that I heard this, it was just a very small moment, and it was more of just a passing thought, but I wanted to have this passing thought with you. I miss those days. I miss those days. Everything is changing, and I don’t want it to.”
On Sunday, Glenn was on his way to church with Tania and the kids, and he was talking to his daughter Cheyenne about the days in which cars were not equipped with TV sets and tricked out speaker systems.
“She looked at me and said, ‘Dad, what did you guys look at?’ I’m having this conversation with my daughter who I’m now realizing has far too much stuff in her life, and I said, ‘I don’t know? The outside.’ That was my answer. Tania’s answer was ‘each other,’” Glenn explained. “This is at a time when we spent more time in our cars saying, ‘Mom, she hit me.’ ‘No, I didn’t’… We spent more time listening to my father threaten to pull the car over… We listened. We fought. And because of that, we also spent a ton of time in silence. Silence. Does silence even exist in our lives anymore?”
In retrospect, it is easy to characterize those days as ‘simpler times’ in which the distractions of technology didn’t exist. But when Glenn really began to think about the state of the world in the 1960s and 1970s, he realized how far from idyllic those days really were.
“Things were simpler. But were they? I mean The Brady Bunch made things look that way, but I didn’t know anybody who lived in the house like The Brady Bunch had. I don’t know anybody who had the life that the Bradys had. I don’t know anybody who had an Ann B. Davis at their housekeeper. I didn’t know anybody who had a housekeeper,” Glenn recalled. “And the Bradys were in a time when our president was being impeached. We were fighting a war that we couldn’t win in Vietnam. There were hippies, drugs, and the Manson family. Oh, and The Brady Bunch. What was so good about that time?”
In thinking about that period in our nation’s history, Glenn couldn’t help but think of the words of Don McLean’s American Pie. While Glenn had always dismissed the song as a tribute to the day Buddy Holly died, he realized – while listening to the song yesterday – that it was actually recognition that the American we knew was gone. And it wasn’t coming back.
“I really listened to the words. I’m an old deejay. I played that song a million times, and a million times I said, ‘Oh, that’s about the day Buddy Holly died,’ which it’s not. It’s not. It’s about the 1960s revolution,” Glenn explained. “The music was this optimism. The music that he’s talking about is this belief that things are gonna get better, this belief that we can change the world. And what happened? The 1960s radicals tore us apart. And because of that, everything we knew, American Pie, is gone. He knew back in 1970 that the America he knew was never coming back, and it never did.”
The America represented by The Brady Bunch and Davis is also over. But that’s the way it should be.
“The reason why I think this is important to start this foundation today is because once we understand: Yes, the America that we know and we even knew five or six years ago is gone. It’s dead. It’s over,” Glenn said. “When we couple that with, ‘as it should be,’ then we can stop desperately trying to hang on to the past, which was never as golden as we remember.”
“What are we gonna do with our time now? Worry? Fret? Fight? Call for violence? Cry over a housekeeper we didn’t even know and wasn’t real,” he continued. “Or do we have the courage to… remember those times in perspective, and then put our nose down and go back to plowing a new field, planting the seeds, and preparing to reap the next great American harvest?”
Front page image courtesy of the AP