The Herald, Sharon, Pa.


April 15, 2013

'Gunsmoke' revisited: Festus, Chester, Dillon

---- — CALL IT SOME BAD luck, but on the nicest two days of the spring last Monday and Tuesday, I was at home nursing a head and chest cold that had been keeping my sleep to an hour or two a night.

It seems as though four out of five people one knows have had this viral illness this year, and from talking to many of them, quick cures are out of the question.

I didn’t feel like doing much Ð you know the feeling. But I love watching TV, and with remote in hand, my golden retriever Brady and I hit the recliner for the day.

As I started to scroll, I stumbled upon a soon-to-begin episode of “Gunsmoke,” passed it by, but after a minute, returned to the classic TV western.

To be honest, I hadn’t watched an entire episode of “Gunsmoke” since I was a kid, and with nothing better to do, I decided to watch it to rekindle a few warm childhood memories.

I say that because for a large chunk of the 1960s, “Gunsmoke” on CBS was a weekly ritual for my grandfather, Pasquale Lenzi, and me. We would huddle in an unlit room off the dining area in our insulbrick row house on Emerson Avenue.

My grandfather would sit in the corner, nestled in his yellow leather chair, and either his pipe or Italian cigar and an occasional bottle of Iron City or Carlings beer on the standing ash tray. I was 10 feet away, plopped on the couch, most times serving as my grandfather’s remote for the black-and-white console TV.

As I sat on the loveseat with Brady and watched the “Gunsmoke” episode last week, I realized it was a much different experience (as in less interesting) without my grandfather’s short words, grunts and groans of commentary throughout the show.

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