I grew up in a conservative, christian farming community…ok, that sounds like the start of a boring life-story. But, this is somewhat of a life-story…and if you’re childhood was anything like mine, you’ll sympathize with what I’m about to tell you.

As I was saying, both of my parents had a desire to pass on the conservative values they grew up with to their children. By design, I grew up living a sheltered life-style which meant I was never in the loop about the latest trends that were commonly discussed among my group of friends. And to top it off, I was the oldest, which made me the guinea pig–the child where the parents make all their mistakes in their efforts to figure out what their parenting style ultimately is.

My interests were starkly different from that of my parents. I was and am a self-defined “media guy.” If it had anything to do with movies/tv, music, or books, you can bet I was all over it. I developed very specific tastes early on, and as I got a little older, well….let’s just say it wasn’t easy being a media-lover in my family.

The first ten years of my life were spent in a little old house right next to my grandparents. My parents did their best to provide us kids with all the comforts of home….and nothing more. I’ll explain what I mean: I am one of the few children of the millenial generation who grew up without cable/satellite, nintendo, etc. All we had was local TV and that was spotty at best. You see, that was before the days of digital TV when you had to have an antennae on top of your house in order to receive the only 4 channels available. (And we didn’t even have that!) All we had was a set of “Rabbit Ears” that we would wrap in aluminum foil. If the picture was only 50% clear, we felt like we were one of the elite citizens. (Without the antennae, we picked up 2 of the 4 channels pretty clearly, ABC and PBS. CBS and NBC were “snowy” most of the time, something I am bitter about even to this day!)

The other thing that made it difficult as a media guy was because of a phrase I heard constantly, sometimes even daily: “Turn it Off!”

Oh, in the beginning it was alright. They were a little more lenient with me, but as the family got bigger, they became increasingly more “involved” in their kid’s lives. I don’t know if it was because they felt I had become corrupted by my media choices, or because they suddenly “woke up” as parents and were attempting to set a clear standard in our home.

Well, I reacted to all of this coolly and calmly. I did what any red-blooded, socially suppressed, american teenage boy would do: I rebelled.

My life became a game of cat-and-mouse, making every effort to watch what I wanted to watch, without getting caught in the act. Once, I did get caught and I received a hefty lecture for my misdeeds. The length of the speech was just too much to bare. I had learned my lesson: DO NOT GET CAUGHT EVER AGAIN!

Feeling good about my new declaration, I began making a list of what movies I wanted to see, when to see them, and how to get there to avoid capture. I handled it all rather nicely. And for the first time in my life, I was free. Here’s the thing: The things I wanted to see weren’t really bad. I was too naive to know what “bad stuff” really was, anyway. I just wanted to watch something without my parents breathing down my neck.

Years have passed since then…and it turns out my childhood has had a much bigger influence on my life than I realized. Much to my parents dismay, I turned out just fine. They instilled in me a strong sense of moral character. And to this day, my favorite movies are the ones I was “allowed” to watch as a kid. So I guess the old saying really is true: “The music you grew up with, (or the movies you grew up with) is always the best.”

Here is the list of movies that no child should grow up without, that every parent will let their child watch, and that will always be a delightful past-time.

The Wizard of Oz was really my first favorite movie. This classic story, based on the book by L. Frank Baum, is the quintessential childhood flick. Judy Garland was my first crush. The Tin Man, with his unique heart given him by the wizard, was my favorite character. His exclamation at the end, “Look! It ticks!” was when I realized that his “heart” was a clock surrounded by a heart shape. One year, this item was #1 on my Christmas list. My aunt made one for me. She bought the clock and placed it in a heart that she made out of clay. Sadly, it broke within a few days when I dropped it. It was an unforgettable part of my childhood. (By the way, there’s another little gem on the 70th anniversary dvd. A made-for-tv movie from 1990 entitled The Dreamer of Oz the story of how The Wonderful Wizard of Oz came to be.

With a script written by beloved children’s author Roald Dahl, what kid would not enjoy the 1968 Ken Hughes classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Dick Van Dyke’s starring role as Caracticus Potts, who captured hearts as Burt the Chimney Sweep in Mary Poppins three years previously, only adds to the fact that this is a must-see. But for me, the selling point was the flying car! (Which, I understand, still exists! You can see it in the Smithsonian Institute)

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial from Steven Spielberg also has one of the greatest flying scenes ever. Initially, the first few minutes of this movie alwasys scared me as a little kid. It took several viewings for me to finally watch it past the first several minutes. But after I finally started to get into it, we discovered the famous name-calling scene–You know, the one where Elliott calls his older brother “Penis Breath.” That line was enough for my mom to decide it wasn’t appropriate for us, and she gave it away. She grew to regret it after seeing it years later and learning what a heartwarming story it really is.

This swashbuckling adventure has some great action scenes, but it’s more humorous than anything. What makes this one particularly memorable is the dialogue: “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!” “Inconceivable!” And of course, “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife. But after what you just said, I’m not even sure I want to be that anymore.”

Advertisements