Daze of Our Lives

Recently, I read in the entertainment news that Frances Reid, known to millions as Grandma Horton on the long running soap, Days of Our Lives, had died at the age of 95.

I was saddened.  As I had grown up with Grandma Horton.  My summer trips to stay with my own grandmother were marked with quiet afternoons sitting with her to watch her stories.  These were sacred times.  And unless the house were ablaze, my brother and I knew not to speak a word when Days was playing on her tiny 13 inch Magnavox.

I continued watching during off-school days with my mother.  Who greatly resembled Julie Horton Manning Williams when she wore her long chestnut fall.  A “fall” was a type of half-wig, set apart by a braid wrapped about ones head.  My mother could also recreate Jackie O. and Sophia Loren with her “fall.”  I also tried that look, but my dishwater blonde tresses always gave me away.  The only look I could ever recreate was that of Pippi Longstocking.

All of this was back before technology gave us a means of recording our favorite television shows.  So during the school year, I would have to rely on my mother’s recounting of the antics of Doug, Julie, Mickey, Bill, Laura, and of course Sister Marie (lowers voice to a whisper), who was in a family way.

I reveled in the Christmas Horton tradition of hanging ornaments bearing the names of family members on the Christmas tree.  And I cried bitter tears the year after Addie died, when her ornament was sadly positioned on the tree by Grandma Horton.

I went on to add the Young and the Restless, and finally General Hospital to my soap opera watching venue in the early 70’s and 80’s.  After college, I became a closet soap opera fan.  As it was no longer in vogue.  My own mother had stopped watching soaps.  She quit cold turkey when 3 of her favorite soap opera characters were unceremoniously killed off in the span of a week.

She couldn’t take it anymore.  And she never looked back.

I had the opportunity to shake hands with McDonald Carrey (the elder Dr. Horton himself) at a Los Angeles show business event in the early 90’s.  Just a few years before his death.  Wherein I characteristically embarrassed myself when bits of a stray breadroll flew from my mouth and landed on his lapel.  And I relished those moments when I would spot a hapless soap opera actor innocently pushing their grocery cart around a Hollywood Mayfield, or Ralphs.  If I had a picture taking cell phone back then, you can be sure I would be posting pictures!  And possibly would have served jail time for stalking.

It’s now a rare day when I tune in to a soap opera.  Mostly on account of my husband’s mockery soon after we were married.  Occasionally I’ll turn on my little kitchen TV during lunch and quietly catch 5 minutes of Y&R or Days.  But honestly, Days lost me way back when Marlena became possessed, and was then later found to be the Salem serial killer.  Murdering her way through nearly every cast member, including Grandma Horton, and well, that was the last straw.  Except that they weren’t really dead, and I don’t know how they explained that away.  Something about a hoax. It was too late.   I couldn’t bear to tune in again.

But still, when I learned of the passing of Frances Reid, a million happy memories of watching DOOL with my Nanny and my mama washed over me.  Rest in peace, Grandma Horton.  Your work touched many.  Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.

Frances Reid, 1914-2010

9 Responses to Daze of Our Lives

  • My mamaw watched DOOL faithfully as well. I remember watching it with her in the TV when we were visiting during the summer & other times as well. It is one of my favorite memories! DOOL was the only soap I ever got into watching & managed to watch it while in college along with my friends. I too quit once married. The whole Marlena possession thing pretty much ruined it for me too. It is sad to see an icon go!

  • I’m a closet soap watcher…

    Young and Restless and General Hospital.

    I DVR it, and watch it on the weekends.

    My son (19) tells me I am turning into a little old lady.

  • I watched Days of Our Lives all through high school and college. I gave up during the Marlena possessed thing too. Although I dabbled here and there after it just lost me.

  • Days was the only soap I ever watched. I watched it with my sister in the summers. Then in my first summer of a “real” job, I rushed home for lunch to catch it and reported my findings to the secretary when I got back. I gave it up a few years ago, in a situation similar to yours where I wondered what on earth they were doing and why. But I think Alice Horton’s death is sad for everyone who ever watched the show.

  • That’s so sad, I always liked Gram Horton too. Then Days went all weird so I quit watching. But I’m not a closet soap fan. I love, love, love General Hospital and don’t care who knows it! lol I even joined the GH Ambassador program for bloggers. hehehe

  • Awwwwwe! I had the same memories as you when I saw Frances Reid passed away. I started watching “Days” as a little girl with my Grandma too! Life stopped for 90 minutes in the afternoons while her “stories” were on. She watched The Doctors and Another World too, and that was back when they were on 30 minutes.

    I was able to keep up with Another World through high school … I would hurry home to catch the last 20 minutes as soon as the bus dropped me off. And I remember watching episodes on the TV sets at Sears if I happened to be in the mall. Yes, this was before recording devices … I would have died for that then if I had know it could be done.

    I gradually lost interest (due to lack of aforementioned recording devices) when I went to college, only to become “hooked” in the early 80’s on “All My Children.” I LOVED Greg and Jenny (okay, I really on LOVED Greg, and was crushed when I found out the actor was married in real life).

    DeeDee, you blog inspires weekly walks down memory lane for me … from childhood memories of the 60’s to raising kids in the 90’s!

  • My Granny and Mama used to watch their “stories” and my mom wouldn’t let me go over there when they were watching them.
    However, my mom totally did not know that when I spent the night I was allowed to stay up and watch Love Boat, Fantasy Island, or Dallas and have ice cream. Delicious!

  • I started watching DOOL with my grandma too. I think I was five. I watched it during the summers because we weren’t cool enough to have cable and it was the only thing on. (That was back in the days of Jennifer and Frankie!)

    When I went off to college, I scheduled my classes around DOOL! LOL

    My favorite part of DOOL was the Christmas ornaments. Rest in Peace, Grandma Horton!!

  • I too was saddened to hear Frances Reid had died. One of my favorite memories of her was when she posed as a motorcycle mama and helped break Bo out of jail. Those were the days! (no pun intended) I started watching because Wesley Eure was on there and it was shortly after Addie died. I remember faking being sick to watch Doug and Julie marry only to discover that they weren’t marrying until the next day! I still don’t know why my mama let me get away with faking it for two days but I did. Sadly, they lost me as a viewer at the same time they lost you. I couldn’t watch the Marlena possession storyline. They “jumped the shark” as it were with that one. I do miss watching the Christmas ornaments, that was a nice tradition. RIP Frances Reid.