The classic NBC-TV game show "Concentration" involved using your memory. Reading about Norm Blumenthal, producer of the long-running hit, in our Jan. 26 Act 2 cover story, certainly stirred the memory of Jerry Palladino, 58, of West Islip, who recalled being on the show in 1972.
One of his most vivid memories was solving the picture puzzle that translated into "Van Cliburn." ("It was a moving van, the letters CL plus an eye and a fire.") Equally unforgettable was winning a cream-colored mink bolero and then seeing the fur fly after host Bob Clayton invited Palladino's then-girlfriend, Lynn, to come onstage from the audience to model it.
"They got panic-stricken in the control room," he recalls. "They came out after the commercial and said, 'We didn't get you in trouble, did we?' I said, 'No you didn't.' They said, 'Are you married?' and I said no. They said, 'Thank God.' "
Blumenthal, who remembers infinite details about the show, doesn't remember Palladino's wins, but that's not surprising. The former producer interviewed many contestants while overseeing more than 7,000 games and creating all of the picture puzzles on "Concentration" for 15 years.
Palladino and his girlfriend parted ways, but he kept the mink. Over the years, his wife, Cathy, and daughter, Nicole, have worn it. The latest to model the jacket is Palladino's daughter-in-law, Kerry Corrie, also of West Islip.
The mink was his big prize, but Palladino also won Z-Bricks, faux brick panels he installed in his previous home; a sofa bed; a bowling ball; a black tuxedo and a white tuxedo. "My brother, who stayed slim, used the tuxedos for the longest time," Palladino says. His tally was worth about $2,800, equivalent to $15,400 today.
In all, Palladino, who was living in Bellerose when he appeared on "Concentration," won two games, tied one and lost game No. 4. "I panicked. I tried to get too much done in my move and I blew it," he says.
Since "Concentration" aired in the morning, Palladino remembers watching the shows with his co-workers. "They brought a TV into the office so we could watch it, and the girls there said, 'You had to see your face when you were on TV.' I had this sly grin."
Palladino, a mail carrier, had good reason to smile. And still does. "I try to relive that moment every once in a while," he says. "Something like that you just don't forget."
Lessons for our time from hard times past
When I turned to the picture of Anthony DiFranco's father while he was in the Civilian Conservation Corps [Rediscovering Dad, Act 2, Feb. 2], I did a double take.
I almost thought I was looking at a picture of my dad and his fellow soldiers sitting in a field while he served in Italy during World War II (the big one, as Archie Bunker was fond of saying).
When I read the caption and then the story, I had to smile, as one of my dad's brothers also served in the CCC when he could not find a job during the Great Depression, although I believe Uncle Leo was assigned to the forests of Washington state.
It is a sad commentary of the times to see how many people now have no idea about President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps, and all the good work this organization did around the country.
History or social studies classes need to include something about the Great Depression and how FDR's New Deal programs managed to give jobs to people who truly wanted and needed to work during that hard and harsh economic period in our history.
If nothing else, students would learn that hard times do happen, but we can rise above them. I applaud DiFranco for all his efforts to not only know his father's true character more deeply, but also to educate people today about this wonderful program.
--Diane C. Hunter, Plainview
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