In answer to our daughter Jackie’s recent Facebook post, I certainly remember Lassie and Timmy. In fact, I am so old that I remember seeing, what I think was, the original Lassie movie with Elizabeth Taylor when it was first released. Pat was a big Lassie fan who had three special Lassie memories:
First – when our youngest grandson Ryan was a very little boy, Pat used to watch him a couple of days a week. Being a former kindergarten and elementary school teacher, Pat had a (lesson) plan prepared for each day Ryan was visiting. (We found several of these when we were going through her things after she died). At the top of each plan was “#1 watch Lassie” and every day that Ryan was here, right after breakfast they sat and watched Lassie re-runs. Both of them evidently loved it because watching Lassie became an integral part of their daily ritual. Last year, Pat started asking Ryan if he remembered watching Lassie with her which of course he did. She would then talk about how the two of them should watch Lassie together again sometime when he was visiting. Unfortunately she left us before the two of them could do so.
Second, many years after the Lassie TV series stopped filming, she had the privilege to meet Timmy (Jon Provost) and get an autographed copy of his autobiography – “Timmy Is In The Well”.
Last but not least, In the 1990s, when we were traveling frequently, I used to complain about people having dogs in the passenger cabin of airliners. Pat used to defend the practice by saying – “I would rather fly with Lassie in the next seat than next to most people”. In the late 90s, we were flying from LAX to Orlando. Pat was in the front row, aisle seat of the first class cabin. I was next to her in the window seat. Right before they closed the cabin doors, an attendant seated a man with a beautiful collie right across the aisle from Pat in the other two font row, first class seats. It obviously was Lassie and her owner/trainer. That day, Pat’s wish came true when she got to fly to Orlando next to Lassie. Pat just loved being around her and spent the entire flight watching the beautiful, well-behaved animal. During the flight, Lassie’s owner/trainer let Pat pet and feed Lassie a treat. Pat was ecstatic. You couldn’t have given her a better treat and to top it off, Pat proved her point, Lassie was a better flying companion than most of the people that we have flown with!
I was not the big Lassie fan that Pat was, but I did have one interesting Lassie encounter when I put my foot in my mouth big time. In 1975, I attended a PMA (Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association) reception and dinner in Beverly Hills. All of the industry’s top brass were there including Austin Smith who until recently had headed up the Parke Davis Company, a very large multi-faceted drug firm. Smith was accompanied to the event by his frequent companion actress June Lockhart. During the course of the evening Smith, who I knew previously, introduced me to Miss Lockhart. Without thinking, I said to her “I know you. You are Lassie’s mother”. Mistake, Mistake, Mistake !!! She quickly and quite coolly advised me that she was not Lassie’s mother. Rather, she told me that she played the role of Timmy’s mother on the TV show and that Timmy was Lassie’s master in the series. All I could do was to say “I am sorry” and move on. But I will never forget the fact that June Lochardt was not Lassie’s mother, I personally heard that directly from the horse’s mouth. Or maybe it was the other end of the horse!
Compiled from the collective memories of
Pat & Frank Fleming
Published October 4, 2016
In Loving Memory of
1936 – 2016