If she were alive, Mary Elizabeth Duffy would turn 100 this December 31st. That realization tempers the New Year’s revelry for me and turns my thoughts to the simple memories that I cherish of my mother. She grew up the oldest of five siblings in a devout Irish Catholic family and dreamed of becoming a nun (UGH!) or a kindergarten teacher. To help support her family during the Depression she relinquished a scholarship to the state teachers’ college and went to work. I never recall her even once using “bad language” or expressing the mildest interest in any member of the opposite sex but my father. Except for one.

My mother was a fan girl of William Conrad, who portrayed portly detective Frank Cannon on that old television show. He certainly wasn’t my idea of a hunk but to her he was “nice” an intelligent man who loved to cook, treated women with respect and drove a really cool car. She never missed an episode of Cannon and rebuked anyone who dared to call him fat. Needless to say, he was also safe and somewhat asexual, hardly heart throb material. He would never make the cut as a hero in one of my novels although he might portray the kind friend or savvy cop.

Thanks to cable television, I can relive those memories of my mother by watching re-runs of—what else—Cannon. He still fails to ring any of my bells but I have to admit that in an era of violent, often vulgar programs replete with anti-heroes it is comforting to find a lead character like old Frank. He is “nice.”