Oh, snap. Literally. I was exiting a local, neighborhood breakfast spot this past Sunday morning, when I noticed this nice, champagne-colored, first-generation Cadillac Seville parked directly across the street. When I took out my phone to snap a few pictures, I hadn’t noticed there was a gentleman actually in the car. (Oops!) Here’s my story.
I’ve been addicted to the Buzzr retro game show cable channel since discovering it last year. Buzzr is a giddy celebration of trivia knowledge, skill, luck, and even formerly famous folks. It’s chock-full of all the game shows I remember from childhood on sick days when I had stayed home from school. These fun reruns include “Sale Of The Century”, “Body Language”, “Card Sharks”, and the mother of all 80’s game shows, “Press Your Luck”.
When PYL would come on after school while in first-run, our living room would get so loud with shouts, hoots, and exclamations of “OH, MAN!!!” that Mom frequently told my brother and me to keep it down. We’d watch contestants answer questions, then have a chance to earn winnings on a “big board” with money and prizes on it, while a random cursor that would jump around with accompanying “boop-beep” noises sounding in the background. Even my otherwise-reserved, professor father would sometimes get into the PYL-watching action as an active spectator, sometimes yelling, “Stop!” or shaking his head solemnly and muttering, “He was too slow,” as if the game was one purely of reflexes.
Animated “Whammies” (pictured above) were to be avoided, and would make a player lose all of their erstwhile winnings and have to start over from zero. This show was way more 80’s than anything from that decade currently on Nick At Nite. Many of the Whammies were even modeled after pop-culture icons of that time, including Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, and Boy George.
Recently, Buzzr aired an episode from some time in 1984 featuring a contestant named Thawann, who worked for the school district where she lived. She was lively, pretty, and also showed, in my opinion, outstanding comedic timing. (An 80’s sitcom like, say, “Gimme A Break” could have done a lot worse than to cast Thawann as a guest actress.) Thawann’s lines and delivery made host Peter Tamarken crack up more than once or twice, and as the game progressed, I got the sense he might have been secretly rooting for her to win. By a stroke of pure luck, she ended up winning her first game with just two shots at it, hitting the highest dollar amount ($5,000) twice ($10,000 in ’84 is about $23,000 in 2016). This was much to everyone’s shock – including her own. Check the first half of the clip above.
When Thawann came back for the next episode as a returning champion, Peter asked what she was going to do with “all that cashola” she had won the day before. She thought for just a second before responding that she was going to pay for her parents’ house to be re-sided, and also that she was going to buy her dad a Seville, before quickly clarifying, “…a ’79, not the new one” (a bustleback) with a hilariously sour face.
When I saw this Seville while leaving Thorndale West Café #1, I immediately thought of Thawann, her dad, and the car she had said she wanted to buy him. This gentleman in our featured car was dressed with casual class, befitting the stylish, first-ever compact Cadillac of the modern era. When the driver’s side door opened (completely catching me off guard), he said to me, “I’m going to charge you for those pictures.” He didn’t say it in a tone I’d categorize as angry, but I took that as a sign that I shouldn’t take any more chances by asking for an impromptu interview.
Anyway, Thawann, if you’re reading this, I hope you, your parents, and your family are in good health, and that the Seville and siding gave many years of great service. Thanks for being one of my all-time favorite game show contestants. Mr. Seville, it was a pleasure. And to fathers everywhere who take pride in their rides, just keep on doing what you’re doing. You’re part of what make enthusiasts like us do what we do.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Sunday, June 12, 2016.