At the time I was reluctant to stand in line to get the ticket - it meant getting up early and fighting the traffic to Burbank and then coming back again in the afternoon to get in line again, long before the show started. But now I'm glad I did it, three times. Getting to see Johnny Carson host the Tonight Show was great fun once I got into a seat but now I appreciate just being a small part in a piece of Americana.
The set, or stage, seemed a lot smaller in person than it did on TV. Carson though, was the same. Friendly and funny. He was also part of the family. Setting down to watch Carson after the news was part of a family tradition - we didn't have worry about being embarrassed by offcolor humor. Carson was funny without being ribald. How many late night TV shows can the whole family set down to watch now?
After his retirement I only saw him in person one more time - on a flight to LA. He was in first class and I watched the back of his head through the curtains of economy class for two hours.
Johnny's passing reminds me of how much I miss him.