We were 18 years old and in our first semester at Brooklyn College on Thursday, December 11, 1969 when we read this article in The New York Times:
SOCIAL ACTIVISM GRIPS SOAP OPERA
Heroine on Serial on A.B.C. to Be a Mother for Peace
By George Gent
The daytime serial, or soap opera, is in the process of going activist.
Behind the agonized cries emanating from the traditional themes of troubled marriages, misalliances and fortune-hunting males, a soul engagé is apparently struggling to emerge and, if the signs are right, its time may have come.
The latest indication of what may be a trend comes from the American Broadcasting Company, which has announced that it will televise, starting Jan. 5 at 1 P.M., a new daily daytime series entitled "All My Children," whose heroine will be a peace activist married into a wealthy conservative family.
We were then involved in the antiwar movement, having worked in the New York headquarters of the Vietnam Moratorium in October, and active politically as a volunteer in Mayor John Lindsay's re-election on the Liberal Party line a few weeks before. The week All My Children premiered, we were in the viewing audience most days, except when we had our draft physical and French final.
We also loved soap operas, which had gotten us through some hard times in our teenage years and which we'd be watching for the rest of our life.
After a few weeks, All My Children didn't seem all that radical. A Sunday Arts and Leisure article in the Times dealt with the Vietnam War storyline, but clearly the usual soap opera plots held sway in Pine Valley. That was fine with us, too, and we kept watching -- not totally faithfully, but periodically and sporadically, as we moved into our twenties, thirties, forties and fifties.
Wherever we moved to, whatever our problems, we could turn on ABC at 1 p.m. or 12 p.m. or whatever time All My Children was on in that TV market, and we'd see familiar faces from our past.
Now we're 60 years old and All My Children aired its last TV episode this afternoon. (It will reappear next year as an online serial from Prospect Park (a different one than we've been going to since the 1950s).
Heavy rain and an age-related sports injury (torn gluteal muscle) prevented us from getting up to the Upper West Side to Soap Opera Digest columnist Carolyn Hinsey's farewell viewing party at Blondies Sports Bar, just a few blocks from the apartment where we used to watch the show in the 1980s.
But it was nice to see the finale at home by ourselves, the way we usually watched the show.