Old Television: “The Price of Tomatoes”

I don’t watch television. That is, I don’t watch anything that is currently being shown these days on TV.

What I do like to watch are old movies and some old TV programs. And more times than not, the stories are the same as some real life events, but with different clothing and hair styles, in effect.

Lately, I’m watching a series of what was called “television plays.” They are hour-long episodes that each tell a different story. Specifically, the show I have been watching is The Dick Powell Show.

Dick Powell was an actor and singer, going as far back as the 1930s. From 1961-63, he hosted a television play program, The Dick Powell Show. The show’s episodes included such powerhouse actors and actresses as Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, Glenn Ford, Carolyn Jones, Peter Falk, Inger Stevens, Charles Boyer, Jackie Cooper, Rock Hudson, Milton Berle, Jack Lemmon, Dean Martin, Robert Taylor, Steve McQueen, David Niven, Danny Thomas, Robert Wagner, William Shatner, and John Wayne – to name a few.

“The Price of Tomatoes” was the first of the several episodes I watched so far. It starred Peter Falk and Inger Stevens. The premise was she was a widowed illegal alien, originally from Europe, who traversed to Mexico, then slipped across the United States-Mexico border to purposely deliver her baby in the U.S. Peter Falk was a truck driver pushing to move his truckload of tomatoes within a deadline. The two of them crossed paths, travelled together in his truck, she delivered her baby in the U.S., and he made his truck run – all with some snags along the way.

It’s true how people will comment that “history repeats itself”, or that “it’s the same old stuff, just a different day.” Just as then, there were people looking to come to the United States for a better life for themselves and their children. The “anchor baby” was true then as it is now.  People tried to enter the U.S. illegally, then as now.

As I was watching this episode, I noticed the struggle Falk’s character had with the duality of following the law (don’t aid and abet a would-be illegal alien) versus him wanting to help Steven’s character delivery her baby in a safe place.

While I don’t condone breaking the law to aid an illegal, I understand helping someone in a dire condition. (But I wouldn’t keep it hidden from the law.)  However, my main point of this article is that sometimes we think our problems and events are unique to our own period of time.

“The Price of Tomatoes” proves that we have always had the same types of problems since the beginning of time.  It’s just a different date on the calendar.

©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.

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