Ralph Cranston

Today while pumping gas very early in the morning, Hilary and I watched a bus driver wait at the corner through an entire street light exchange while an intending passenger ran to catch up. Deathly cold. The runner poorly dressed for the weather. Hoping not to have to wait another 30 minutes for the next ride. Chalk one up for the driver!

It got me thinking about our transit drivers. For many years I had to take the bus. I watched these men and women perform many roles as goodwill ambassadors for the City, patient listeners to the hurting and extra eyes and helps for the police. Their role is much more than the advertised standard.

Next in my stream of consciuosness was an image of Jackie Gleason playing the TV comedy role of Ralph Cranston in the pioneer series “The Honeymooners”. He portrayed a City bus driver. Heavy, grumpy, seemingly impatient, but underneath carrying a heart of gold toward his wife Alice and apartment neighbours Ed and Trixie Norton.

Once in a short radio biography I learned something significant about Gleason. His Father skipped town and the family. Consequently, in many respects young Jackie took up the fatherly role in a struggling family. Next came the music and then the television and acting.

It was insisted by Gleason that the series would portray many simple examples of conflict, but that no episode would ever conclude without reconciliation, forgiveness, a hug and “Alice, you’re the greatest”. This was Jackie’s testimonial to the riches of marriage and the wisdom of ‘never letting the sun go down on your wrath’.

Bravo, “Ralphie Baby”.

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