A Material Family

There is a family I have never met that I came to know quite well over my years as a college teacher. They are the Greenwalts, once of Birmingham, Michigan, a wealthy bedroom community outside Detroit, who were the subject of a documentary entitled "But What If The Dream Comes True?" that appeared on CBS in l970. Unlike other family portraits of the time, such as that of the Louds, where a hand-held camera picked up the wife telling her husband to move out, the portrait of the Greenwalts was not given to titillation or uncovering family ghosts. Nor was this a video blog pretending to be the real life of a celebrity with all but selected warts edited out. Its method was that of a standard documentary: interviews with the protagonists and film on the settings in which they lived their lives. Its purpose was an exploration of the American character, and its narrator, Charles Kuralt, brought his usual mixture of amusement and appreciation to an hour-long human interest story that was and is more than a sidebar.

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