Waiting for the Cheese Man   6 comments

The recent death of Muhammad Ali’s  saddened me as I realized yet another icon “with me”  since the days of my youth has preceded me to whatever awaits us all some day. On a happier note, it  also brought me back to some of my earliest and most treasured of memories of times with my dad. But then whenever I think of boxing I always think of Daddy. Daddy loved boxing which  he always called prize fighting, and its participants were, of course, always referred to as prize fighters.

This particular trail had its starting point way back  before Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali, and perhaps since it was 1950 or 51, perhaps even before he put on his first pair of boxing gloves. Other little girls might remember their fathers teaching them to dance. I  learned how to box. We’d spar and prance about the living, he constantly reminding me to “cover my face.”You see, I was the son he never had, until he did, that is. After my younger brother was born, he must have realized I was the daughter he did have, because he taught me how to do the Charleston. After my youngest brother was born, I was old enough for him to begin to worry about boys and he was probably glad he’d taught me how to box.

But back to when I had Daddy all to myself – Back then boxing, oops – prize fighting – was on TV every Wednesday night. And although I was only four years old and it didn’t come on until 10 PM,  I was allowed to stay up to watch with him, as long as I took an afternoon nap.

One prize-fighter always had on white trunks and the other, black, or so I thought. Now I realize this may have been because it was on black and white TV. If you know me, you won’t be surprised to hear that  I had loads of questions to ask and when my curiosity had been satisfied, loads to chatter about. And so Daddy established the rule that I could only talk when the Cheese Man came on. The “cheese man” was a cartoon-like figure whose head suggested a wheel of cheese and was perched on a stool and directing a TV camera. But instead of ABC or CBS, the side of the camera was emblazoned with the Kraft logo, Kraft being the sponsor of the Wednesday Night Fights.

kraft cheese man

Memories inevitably morph with time and so I know that one day, the Ali frozen in Parkinson’s disease will fade into the early Ali: Ali the greatest, Ali, the prettiest, the graceful butterfly floater, the lightning-quick bee stinger, just as in my Wednesday night memories, Daddy was young and vibrant and it would be 60 years before he too would be taken away by Parkinson’s. Memories are funny like that.

And I’ve discovered my prize fighting memories are not quite as they seem either. Take the Cheese Man. In Google fact checking my memory, I could find no reference of Kraft Cheese sponsoring Wednesday Night Fights, but I did  find this on a website called Old Time Radio catalog

The Pabst Blue Ribbon Bouts were Wednesday night fights from 1948 through 1955. The show was on all three major radio networks over the years and was a popular part of the television lineup. The fights broadcasts originated from several arenas around the country and featured a number of title bouts.

pabst blue ribbon bouts

 

That’s when I realized I had to wait for the bell, and not the  Cheese Man.Waiting for the Cheese Man was my mother’s rule  – when she was watching the Kraft Television Theater.

Kraft television Theater

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Posted June 16, 2016 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

6 responses to “Waiting for the Cheese Man

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  1. Waiting for the Cheese Man, what an ingenious title 🙂 I enjoyed reading your memories of watching “prize fighting” with your dad. Girl, you sure had an interesting childhood, and I love hearing about it!
    I went through a period of watching “prize fighting”, too. It was after I became Ed’s bride, but before we had any children 🙂

  2. I love it when bloggers recall their childhoods, and hone in to the years during which I was a child as well, although I was a bit older in 1950. My memories are very different, of course, since I grew up on a prairie farm (homestead, really), and since it was an isolated place, we relied on radio, which had it’s blessings as well! The love between father and daughter is very special, and I am so glad you had such a good relationship with your dad. Great post, Virginia!

    • Listening to the radio has most likely played a role in how imaginative you’re writing is. I spent time in England in my 20s and we had no TV but I found I could get totally immersed in radio drama stories, and quite enjoyed how it exercised my imagination.

  3. Thank you for sharing your memory of watching Ali with your father. I too was saddened by his passing. He was a great, strong and kind man who has left the world a far better place.

    Susan Schefflein
  4. yes, and it’s amazing that he was able to maintain his grace and strength of character right up to the end despite all that Parkinson’s did to him.

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