The $64,000 Question

There was a televised game show of this name, around the time I was born.  It was one of those hits of early TV that everybody stayed inside to watch when it was broadcast live.  The streets would become deserted, apparently.  Crime numbers dropped to zero while the show was on.    President Eisenhower did not want to be disturbed during the $64,000 Question.  The producers of the show would soon enough be hauled before Congress for fixing the show, but that was after a few years of fabulous success.

One night at dinner my parents described my father’s appearance on a live TV game show.  The show could not have been, I’m sad to say, the famous $64,000 Question, which I just read up on, but due to that show’s popularity it’s safe to assume there were many imitators.  My internet research did not reveal the name of this imitator, but my father was a contestant on the show.  Either I was a very young baby when he was on TV or it was just before I was born.

On this show the contestant stood in the gondola of a hot air balloon.  If he answered the question correctly his winnings went up.  Each time he answered incorrectly a tether rope holding the balloon to the ground would be cut.   When the last one was cut the balloon floated up out of camera and the contestant was done.

My father stood in the gondola and answered the questions.  I don’t recall how well he did, although he certainly did not win life changing money.  He had an excellent memory and a good command of history, current events, sports and general trivia.  They cut a rope whenever he missed a question.  He was hanging on by one rope when he missed another question.

My mother was watching this on live television, with everyone in the neighborhood.  My parents lived at the time in a garden apartment complex called Arrowbrook.  They were one of the first couples to get a TV, from what I understand.   Everyone gathered to watch my father on the game show.   One family was Mexican, as far as I can recall.  They had a little boy.   

When my father missed that last question they cut the last rope and my father waved as he floated off.  The little boy called out “bye bye, Irv!”



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