Today I say a sad, fond goodbye to Carly, Jack, Lisa, Tom, Margo, Lucinda, Lily, Holden, Luke, Noah, Katie, Henry, Nancy, Kim, Bob and so many others.
Today marks the end of As the World Turns, one of the longest-running soap operas in television history.
I am a third generation ATWT fan. My Grammie and my mom watched ATWT from the first episode, when Nancy Hughes said "Good morning, dear" to her beloved husband, Chris. Mom was ironing and watching the show in 1963 when it was interrupted for Walter Cronkite's announcement to the world that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. As the World Turns is part of my memory as far back as I can remember. I remember how exciting it was when ATWT expanded from 30 minutes to an hour. Mom and I used to talk about the show's characters as if they were real friends or family members.
There were so many storylines that captured me: Tom and Margo's battle of the mind against Mr. Big...James Stenbeck's seemingly infinite rebirths (rock solid soap opera rule: if there is no body, there is no death)...Marcy's marriage to a prince...Lily and Holden's roller coaster romance from teenage first love to happily married couple to divorced parents and everything in between...Lisa and Kim's many marriages and their own catfights...Lucinda's boardroom machinations...Craig's repeated choices to do the wrong things for the right reasons...Steve and Betsy's star-crossed romance...John and Bob's heroic efforts to cure any and all ailments that befell a resident of Oakdale, Illinois...Barbara's shift from beleagured victim to vengeful shrew to wise mother.
(Growing up in central Illinois as I did, it always amused me when the show referred to its location. There is a real Oakdale, Illinois - a tiny little town deep in southern Illinois, much closer to St. Louis than Chicago. The fictitious Oakdale is only an hour or so from downtown Chicago, boasts a world-class hospital, an international airport, and a thriving corporate environment.)
My favorite couple has always been Carly and Jack. I don't know why but I identified with Carly from the very beginning, even though she was a bad girl who loved to scheme (so not me). She loved Jack from the moment she saw him and Jack loved her just as deeply. He was her G-Man and her True North even though their natures were often at odds and repeatedly tore them apart. Recently, their story has paralleled my own life in a strange way.
I rarely watched any other soap (I did flirt with General Hospital in 1983 - I had to find out why all the other girls were swooning over Luke and Laura), but I didn't need another one. As the World Turns was over the top and fantastic, sure, but it always seemed to keep one foot on the ground so that everything that happened seemed *almost* possible.
One of my favorite things about ATWT was that the story never ended - there was always more, always something new, always another adventure, romance, intrigue, or disaster around the corner. I never had to close the book or click the remote, sigh, and wish I had more time with the characters I had come to love.
Today, the story ends...and I will sigh, and cry a little, but As the World Turns will never stop turning in my heart.