LaLanne jump-started fitness TV

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

I was saddened to hear Jack LaLanne, famous fitness guru, died at the age of 96. News reports state he said, "I can't afford to die because it might wreck my image."

I'm not sure about that. Ninety-six is pretty good and I bet his juicers will be flying off the shelves.

I remember when Jack had one of the first TV fitness shows. This was back when TV. had three channels, Columbus -- 3 and 9, and Albany -- Channel 10. On a real clear day if the moon was just right, you could get Channel 4 in Dothan, not that anyone ever actually wanted to.

My Grandmother watched him every day. She would have run the preacher out to make sure she watched Jack do jumping jacks, pushups and pull-ups, all the while in some type jump suit that looked like he'd just finished working on a '63 Oldsmobile. Now, mind you, my Grandmother never did one single exercise. She just watched. I'm proud to have inherited her genes.

She also watched the "Rozelle Show" each day. It was talk TV before the invasion of Oprah and the like. I would rather have been boiled in oil than watch it, but every day, there I sat beside her while Rozelle interviewed the garden club president or someone putting together arts and crafts. I don't know who her talent scout was, but I'm pretty sure his criteria was two-tiered -- breathing and available.

Sort of reminds me of my old dating qualifications.

Just when I thought it was safe, my Grandfather would come in and turn on Ridley Bell, the Fishing Show. He always served an R.C. and Moon Pie. After watching this, I needed something stronger, like an R.C. and a fifth of Jack Daniels.

He always had local people who caught large strings of fish. When asked where, they always said "private pond" in an accent that would make Forrest Gump proud. What they really meant was they had trespassed on someone's property and couldn't tell whose.

We'd end the TV extravaganza by watching "As The World Turns." My Grandmother was very moralistic, but didn't blink an eye if Sue slept with Sally's husband and Sally was her sister.

Yes, times were simpler then and TV shows limited and sometimes boring. I hope that Jack rests in peace and wish his family all the best. As for me, I wish once more I could curl up next to my Grandmother, just one time, and watch Rozelle.

Contact columnist T. Gamble at t@colliergamble.com.