A Winner Among Us!

Monday, January 21st, 2013

The Story Of Our Guest

Real Life Stories Of Meridian Club Guests

So many of our guests have such interesting stories.  They may include how they came to The Meridian Club, what their experience was like, or have nothing to do with the property.  One of the reasons why lovers of our property return – again and again – is because of how all the guests feel like part of a community.  Starting with this article, you will learn something of your fellow guest.  The first installment is entitled “A Winner Among Us”, which details how one week on Jeopardy catapulted the lives of two of our guests, who visited our property just recently.

Carole Cohen was living a typical home maker life in the Boston area, where her husband, Jordan, was finishing his medical training and residency.  It was 1965, she had three small children – ages 6, 3 and 1, and the TV was on during the day while she went about her chores, primarily while she ironed.  Her favorite show was Jeopardy and she seemed to have quite the talent for it.  During a conversation with Jordan about the future, that they needed to create a home, move to Rhode Island, buy a house, get a 2nd car, and finish paying off medical school, he questioned, “where is this money going to come from?”

She spoke up and said, “there is this TV program where they ask you questions and give you money.”  At that time, this was the only show doing such a thing because of the scandal surrounding Twenty-One (but also included the $64,000 Question and two other shows).  For those of you too young to remember, or who have not seen the 4-time Oscar nominated movie Quiz Show directed by Robert Redford, following the scandal a congressional investigation determined this show (and others) gave the questions (and sometimes answers) to “create entertainment” and thus controlled who won, how often they won, and how much they won.  Today you might call it “reality TV” but back then the government got involved and created laws to prevent the public from being deceived.  No longer could television companies give out this information … until Jeopardy came along, and producer Merv Griffin cleverly came up with a way to get around that.  Instead of answers, contestants had to give the question to the game show’s host, then Art Fleming.  Often, and in the heat of the moment, this trumped the guest and how they phrased their “answer” because it was mistakenly not in the form of a question.

Back to Carole and Jordan.  He used to say her brain was “a storehouse of useless information” and so thinking there was nothing to lose he dared her to do it.  And do it she did.  She sent a post card and was selected, traveled to NYC (with her three children), paid all her travel expenses, stayed with her mom (who watched the kids), took the test, and went back to Boston.  The show called and asked her to be on the following week.  So she left her kids with her sister in Boston, taped two shows on Monday and two more on Wednesday, and she won!  Due to the inauguration of LBJ in January, they suspended taping for two weeks and invited her back for her 5th appearance at the end of the month.  The rules were you had to win five times to advance.  So, just as most NFL coaches try to “freeze out” the kicker by calling time out before the kick, the station did well because she didn’t win the 5th show and did not advance.  She says admittedly she got greedy, but she has no regrets.  The winnings by today’s standards was nothing big, about $4,500.  In those days it was enough.  Enough to (1) put a down payment on a house, (2) buy a 2nd used car, (3) go away to Mt. Stowe for the weekend.

They tell me, it was a “start of a very nice life.”

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