To many of us who grew up with the Cleaver family, June Cleaver epitomized the perfect mom. Always impeccably dressed with her ever-present string of pearls, she was the stay-at-home mom who seldom raised her voice and knew the right things to say for the occasion. We all wanted her to come live in our homes and she did, at least via the TV.
Every week many of us of "a certain age" as the French so quaintly put it, tuned in to "Leave It to Beaver" because we wanted to be part of the Cleaver family. The Cleavers and their friends and aquaintances represented "perfectville" where drugs were something you took when you were sick and divorce was something that was whispered about between adults. In the Cleaver household sitting down for supper at the dining room table as a family unit was the norm with dad Ward, in his business suit replete with tie and mom June, in her proper poofy dress running back and forth serving up food, dispensing sweetness and home-spun advice. Even when vacuuming, June wore her string of pearls but wore a turban to keep her hair clean.
It was quite a departure for her fans when she turned up as a jive-talking passenger on one of the "Airplane!" films. Ever the professional, she handled the role as perfectly as she did playing Mrs. Cleaver.
The Beaver's mom will now have to dispense her helpful advice in the "great beyond" through actress, Barbara Billingsley, who played the role of June Cleaver, died at the age of 94. She played the role of ideal mother with a calm demeanor that endeared her to viewers. In a TV interview, she said she wanted to "set a good example for what a wife could be." She did that and then some.
Those unfamiliar with June Cleaver can go back in time since YouTube carries many of the original episodes. Chances are you'll smile and say "nice!" The Beaver's mom would be happy. Meanwhile, for those of us who were fortunate to be part of the Cleaver family, here is a memory jogger that displays a mom's love, tolerance and patience:
Ward Cleaver: I'm going to change my clothes and finish painting those trash cans myself; the boys ran out on the job.
June Cleaver: Well dear you can't blame them too much, they went over to see the big fire at the lumber yard.
Ward Cleaver: Fire?
June Cleaver: Yes, they couldn't resist it, and after all they are just boys.
Ward Cleaver: Tom Corton's lumber yard?
June Cleaver: Yes, it's been on the radio. Why, they've called out fire companies from all over.
Ward Cleaver: Well it must be quite a fire.
June Cleaver: Yes, it must be.
Ward Cleaver: June, I wonder if you'd go out to the garage and put those brushes in some turpentine, I won't be too long. (Rushes out the back door.)
June Cleaver: Once a boy always a boy.