Archive for July 5th, 2020


The Glad Game

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – If ever a year called for The Glad Game, 2020 may be it. The Glad Game, you know, a way of coping by looking for the positives in a difficult situation. Eleanor H Porter first wrote about such a “game” in her 1913 novel Pollyanna, a story about a young girl who faced life with an unfailingly positive attitude about everything. Her father created the game when the missionary barrel arrived with a pair of crutches for her, although she’d asked for a doll. “Be glad,” her father said with a smile, “that you don’t need them.”

After Pollyanna’s mother and father died, at age 12 she was sent to live with a stern aunt who relegated her to a room in the stuffy attic. Still Pollyanna managed to find things to be glad about. Sent to the kitchen with only bread and milk because she was tardy for dinner? “I love bread and milk!” said Pollyanna. She taught The Glad Game to everyone in the village – whiny Mrs Snow, who had been bedridden for years, refusing even to look out the window; grumpy Mr Pendleton, who barely spoke and wouldn’t lift a finger to help a soul. They changed. Even Aunt Polly began to smile as the infectious spirit of optimism filled the house.

That’s the way it works.

I admit to being sad of late. Sad for my three grandchildren who suffered a senior year of school closures and virtual graduation ceremonies, masked and alone even for the filming of those. Sad for my uncle, who spent the last three months of his 96 years in quarantine, a world traveler no more. His body is now stored at the funeral home until August, funerals are that backed up. Sad for my stepmother, also 96, quarantined in a nursing home, no family in-person contact; and for friends experiencing the same situation with their loved ones. Sad for many family members who have been instructed to work from home since March 1, or whose salary was cut, or, who were laid off. Sad that my Round The World trip, which was to begin July 7, will not happen. Sad, by golly, about the toilet paper shortage! And those are just things that affect me directly and personally, before tuning in to the daily news of despair all around the world. It was time to buck up.

So I called on Pollyanna today. I watched the most recent of the movies that have been made based on Porter’s book, a TV Masterpiece version starring Amanda Burton as Aunt Polly and Georgina Terry as Pollyanna. I am GLAD Eleanor Porter wrote that first book and created the entrancing Pollyanna character. She has cheered folks and lifted spirits through world wars and depressions and other ups and downs for over a hundred years. Other authors have chimed in over time with “Pollyanna Glad Books” – Harriet Smith, Elizabeth Borton, and Virginia Moffit to name a few; I counted fourteen at least.

A silent film starring Mary Pickford as Pollyanna came out in 1920. Pickford was 23 at the time, playing the role of a twelve-year old! The film grossed $1.1 million ($14 million in today’s dollars), a huge success. You may be more familiar with Disney’s 1960 version starring Hayley Mills, who won a special Oscar for the role.

Other adaptations of the Pollyanna character include a Turkish musical drama comedy, a BBC TV serial, a Japanese 51-episode anime TV series, a Disney TV musical with an African-American cast, and in 2018, a Brazilian telenovela. Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley produced The Glad Game for a time, and Glad Clubs were in vogue. In 2002 a statue depicting a smiling Pollyanna was unveiled in Littleton, New Hampshire, Eleanor H Porter’s home town.

Hang Miss Pollyanna’s picture beside your TV screen, or wherever you get your daily pandemic updates. A little optimism can go a long way. It radiates, you know.