And The Oscar Goes…

by Brenda on October 10, 2011

A Fine Education


I grew up in a home with a father who restricted my television viewing. I was almost a teenager before I realized we had a color TV. I am not that old and the tube had been around a long while before I was born. Dad wasn't a PBS subscriber, and to be honest I don't know if public television was even around then, and if it was, if we watched it. He wasn't a Harvard professor or even in a white-collar profession, he was a Latin man who married out of high school and worked long hours to support his young family, but he had educational passions that he pursued his entire life.

He had grown up during a time when it was standard business practice to employ ushers in movie houses. It was the usher's job was to show the moviegoers to their seats. This job shaped his love of the arts. He saw all of the movies, from the A-list all way down to the bottom of the B-list. By the time, I came around and was out of diapers and prime for higher learning he made sure I saw them too. He considered film viewing critical to my education, and since he felt the California school curriculum lacked in the fine arts department, I was home-schooled in the arts. The syllabus included music—all varieties, with a fondness for real Country-Western, which included club hopping in Hollywood, literature, and of course, movies 101 and higher. The list of books he read, or read to me, including poetry, seemed endless to me back then, but it was like my restricted television viewing-I read and was read to, from an exclusive but restricted list

Each subject in the home schooling program is a chapter in itself, but the motion picture classes were by far my favorite. My namesake is taken from one of the first Jane's in the Tarzan movies that stared Johnny Weissmuller—winner of five Olympic gold medals—her name was Brenda Joyce. (Dad had a burning schoolboy crush on Brenda he told me when I asked how I came by the name.) We'd watch black and white movies on the weekends, and he'd explain who was who, which studio it was filmed in, and what it was like to see the movie in the picture houses, and he'd included his review on the movie we were watching, too. When the family budget permitted, we'd see the old movies in the theaters around Hollywood. We were regulars at Grauman's (known as Mann's) Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd.

The Oscar's in my house was like a Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday. He made sure that we had seen the movies nominated, or at least the ones I could see, or that he wanted me to see, and then we'd discuss their merits before the big night. As I matured, our opinions deviated, but he respected my failings, as he'd say, and allowed me to root for my own favorites. The day before the Oscars, we'd each select our choices for the major categories, a secret we'd keep from one another until the big night. We'd dress for the occasion, and have our own party on the night of the Oscar's. Instead of the standard three-course meal, we have cheese and crackers, sliced deli meats, Dad might have a couple cold Budweiser's, and I’d have an Orange Crush; something out of the ordinary in honor of the movies. The Oscar's were a big event.

I took my tutelage for granted. I assumed every kid’s father read Somerset Maugham and Edgar Allen Poe aloud, sang along with Eddie Fisher, and passed the tissues as you cried the first time watching Spencer Tracy in Captain Courageous. But they didn’t. It wasn’t until venturing out on my own did I discover and appreciate my privileged education. It’s shaped who I am and influenced the way I look at the world. I have passed along this same education to my own kids bar singing along with Eddie Fisher. Rob Thomas is my favorite.   
And this past year, in honor of my Dad who is no longer with us, we kept with tradition when we watched the Oscars. We dressed for the occasion, enjoyed a crusty baguette, brie, some Spanish ham, wine and sparkling cider. I couldn't help but wonder if Dad and Louie Mayer were watching from Cloud and Vine, smoking stogies, and forgiving me all my failings.
What stands out from your childhood?
“Today I’m participating in a mass blogging day! WOW! Women On Writing has gathered a group of blogging buddies to write about Special People We Know and Love. Why? We’re celebrating the release of Joanne Lewis’ and Amy Lewis Faircloth’s debut novel. Wicked Good (Telemachus Press, LLC, 2011) is about the unconditional love between a mother and her adopted, special needs son and the adventure that brings them closer together. Visit The Muffin at to read what Joanne and Amy have to share about their special people and view the list of all my blogging buddies. Then be sure to visit to learn more about the authors."
"If you comment on today's post on this blog or any of the other blogs participating in Everybody's Talking About Wicked Good People, you will be entered to win a print copy of Wicked Good by Amy Lewis Faircloth and Joanne Lewis. To read about Amy and Joanne's Special People and view the list of participating blogs please visit The Muffin" (I will forward the permalink that morning)
About the Authors
One day two sisters decided to write a book together; what began as a blog became an award winning novel! Wicked Good is the first in the "Wicked" series.
Amy is the older sister and a full time family law attorney. She loves her 2 sons and nephew, dogs, volunteering at the Bangor Humane Society, being outdoors when it’s nice outside and indoors when it’s not.
Joanne is the younger and a full-time family mediator and Guardian Ad Litem. She loves her 3 nephews, her grey poodle Frisco, anything to do with the Italian Renaissance, and spending time with her friends and family.
Please visit them at