Coming to America and learning about a mom named June Cleaver

By the fall of 1964, or, when our family landed in the U.S. from Cuba, “Leave it to Beaver” was already on reruns. I remember my cousin, who had been here since 1962, explaining the story of a family living in the suburbs, dad was in accounting I believe, brother Wally had a friend named Eddie, mom was always checking on the boys and the Beaver was funny.   

They didn’t remind me of any Cuban family, but there was something about the mom that caught my attention.  I think that it was her ways and how she reminded every one of their mom.

On Mother’s Day, we remember Mrs. Cleaver, and one of my favorite TV characters.  Barbara Billingsley died in 2010.   She was 94.  I loved this that Frazier Moore wrote about the mom that we loved so much:

As played by Billingsley, June Cleaver had endless patience. When Beaver was late to an all-important birthday party after falling in a street that was being repaved, June never raised her voice about his tarry mess and his tardiness.

And in an era when corporal punishment was still an approved parenting technique, June would never have raised her hand to her boys.

The closest she came to upbraiding her kids was her trademark expression of concern directed not at them, but to their father: “Ward, I’m worried about the Beaver.”

Then it was up to Ward, played by Hugh Beaumont, to have a little man-to-man talk with Beaver. And he did, without fireworks.

As any kid viewer could tell, Ward was upright, sensible, if somewhat starchy. As a professional accountant, he was all about maintaining order. He seemed to be the ideal for middle-class manhood in 1950s America. Fortunately, no little boy watching “Leave It to Beaver” let that give them the willies.

Meanwhile, they knew it was June who was empathetic, fun and baked cakes — and who advocated for her boys to her Ward boss.

In one episode, little Beaver wants to spend $12.95 of the savings in his bank account to buy a really swell sweater.

Ward predictably replies, “I don’t think we should lay out 13 dollars just on a whim.”

Well, my mother, who died three years ago today, was not as patient as Mrs. Cleaver.  Cuban mothers are more explosive and speak their minds whether you want to hear it or not.  My mother never waited for my father to get home to tell us that we were acting stupid.  She wasn’t always dressed up around the house but she really looked good whenever she had to.  She did have a lot of June’s qualities or that mom who just dedicates her life to her family.  I don’t know about you, but I’m glad that I had a mom like that.   And I thank God that I found someone to marry who is the same way.

Happy Mother’s Day to all, and cheers for the one and only Mrs. Cleaver.

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