Yesterday was a dreary, rainy day, so I put on my ‘Three Stooges’ hoodie as I headed to work. It was the first time I’d worn it to work since I had received that fateful phone call from mom during the middle of my shift, telling me through tears that my father had died. So I couldn’t help but think about dad and how “The Three Stooges” was another bonding moment for us, much like those college bowl games were, but this bond was deeper and longer-lasting.
Every Sunday afternoon, “The Three Stooges” would air shorts for an hour on a local network affiliate in L.A. It just so happened that it was the time my dad would sit down for a cup of coffee before heading out to church. I don’t remember how it started, all I remember is that for years, watching “The Three Stooges” together was a Sunday ritual that had more meaning to me than any church service.
As a kid, I enjoyed the zany hijinks of Moe, Larry and Curly. They are like children who never grew up. For dad, they held a key to a bittersweet time in his childhood. Having been born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, he was subjected to the aerial bombings delivered by the Nazis before he was a teenager. He remembered running to the bomb shelter with his family. And in between the fear of another bombing and the fear of another lashing across the hands from the ruler in Sister Mary’s iron fist, he and his school pals would escape their miserable childhood by going to the movie theatre. There, they would watch all of the movies that we consider American classics today. But each film would start with a ‘Three Stooges’ short, and I think that may have been the kids’ favorite part.
My love of the Stooges has not dissipated as I have become an adult, if anything, I appreciate their comedic talent more than ever. I’ve been watching the shorts over the past couple of months, as dad declined and passed away, and they offered me much needed levity and made me feel close to my father. Maybe dad is enjoying a few good “nyuk, nyuk, nyuks” and pies to the face with the Stooges wherever he is now.