Thursday, April 12, 2007

Uncle J's Zenith Space Commander

Although Our family probably didn't travel as often as I think I remember, most of our family summer trips were to visit family, and that always meant a trip to see Uncle Jay and Aunt Ila in Las Vegas.

One of my earliest memories of visiting Uncle J as a child is that he had a remote control for his TV. To a kid in the early 70's, this was cool stuff. This remote was called the Zenith Space Commander, and when you pushed the buttons, it really did click. The contraption had several buttons and, along with the click, made a high-pitched noise that that would cause the dial on the TV to turn. I think it might have had an on/off button, too.

During this particular visit, I took the opportunity to demonstrate my newfound understanding of direct-dial long distance by calling a friend back in Omaha. When my parents found out who I was talking to, they were embarrassed half to death. (In those days, long distance calling charges actually meant something.) But being a good uncle, J just laughed and though it was cute.

As I remember it, his old house had a pergola over the patio, and growing on the pergola were grapes. Real, live, put them in your mouth and eat them grapes. They had seeds (most grapes did back then) and they were a little tart, but they came from a plant, not a store. Amazing.

They moved in to another house, and this one had figs and pomegranates in the back yard, where we had many an extended family gathering. I remember always having cantaloupe and honeydew (Grandpa Leavitt's favorite) and to this day I can't eat a melon without a memory of those trips coming back to me.

Jay and Ila's home was nicknamed the Leavitt Hotel, and I stayed there many times, both as a child and as an adult with my own children. Jay and Ila even put up a friend of ours from Austin. He was in Vegas for a trade show, and by staying with Uncle J he was able to bring his wife and son along, too.

Uncle J was an avid golfer, and quite good. I'm sure he was not personally involved in having Daylight Savings Time changed - he was willing to golf whatever time the sun got up. I'm sure if they had lighted courses, he would have golfed all night.

There are so many more things I can think of to write, but they will need to wait for another time.

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