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~very abridged~

As the World Turns debuted on Monday,Arpil 2, 1956 at 1:30 in the afternoon. Before this show, all soaps were fifteen minutes in length; ATWT was the first half-hour serial. In the beginning, the story focused on the middle-class Hughes family in the small Midwestern burg of Oakdale. Lawyer Chris Hughes (Don MacLaughlin) a partner in a small law firm, was the patriarch of the family. His wife Nancy Helen Wagner, while a very traditional housewife, was always the strong voice of reason in the household. Chris and Nancy had three children: Don, Penny, and Bob. A fourth child, Susan, was never seen as she died as a result of swimming during a thunderstorm before the series started.

As the show began, Chris and Nancy were debating whether they should have Chris's father, Will Santo Ortega live with them. Their daughter, Penny, was angry with Nancy over her decision to prohibit her going on a spring vacation trip with her best friend, Ellen Lowell.

As the show moved into the 1960s, Penny found love with Jeff Baker (Mark Rydell), but he died in a horrible accident early in the new decade. Don married Janice Turner Whipple, but Nancy was strongly opposed to the marriage so he was forced to move away to Texas. Bob (who, by this time, was being played by Don Hastings) fell in love with schemer Lisa Miller (Eileen Fulton). Bob had become a doctor, and Lisa had no desire to stay home, waiting for her husband, so she had an affair, despite recently giving birth to a son. Bob divorced her, and Lisa became a pariah, as dictated by most of the town (headed by Nancy Hughes). She left for a two year span (her son, Tom, stayed with the Hughes family), and came back to Oakdale in 1966. By this time, she was newly rich, and was suddenly interested in her ex-husband when he found new love with Sandra McGuire (Dagne Crane). 

While Lisa was a vixen during her formative years in Oakdale, eventually everyone (including Nancy Hughes) forgave her for her past transgressions, and she has reformed into a very valuable member of society (she currently owns both Fashions and The Lakeview Towers).

Notable storylines during the 1970s revolved around the Sullivan sisters, Jennifer (Gillian Spencer) and Kimberly (Kathryn Hays) came to town and shook up the moral fabric. Jennifer died early on, while Kimberly romanced both the devious Dr. John Dixon (Larry Bryggman) and Dan Stewart (John Colenback) before finally settling on Bob Hughes in the 1980s (With his marriage to Kim, Bob had now married both Sullivan sisters).  More drama ensued from the trauma Jennifer's daughter Barbara Ryan (Colleen Zenk-Pinter) endured by being married to criminal James Stenbeck (Anthony Herrera). After being widowed by Gunnar St. Clair (Hugo Napier), she became involved with, arguably, the love of her life: Hal Munson (Benjamin Hendrickson) . After a one-night stand with Darryl Crawford, Barbara was forced to admit that the baby that was conceived (Jennifer, named after her mother) was not Hal's, and he divorced her. In the 1990s, however, Barbara and Hal were to be married two more times.

Today, the popular stories revolve around bad guy Craig Montgomery (Hunt Block).  He was a nice guy originally, but the years haven't been kind to Craig. Craig's wife Rosanna (Daytime Emmy winner CadyMcCain) who recently returned to town after she found out that her adopted son was stolen from another family.  Was subsequently forced to seduce into marriage, Barbara’s right hand man, Jordan Sinclair (Michael Beetam) who turned out to be James Stenbeck’s mystery son.  Rosanna's sister Carly Maura West tends to stay in not in, around front-burner storylines with husband Jack Snyder.  Granted, nowadays Jack helps fellow cop Margo Montgomery Hughes (Ellen Dolan) whereas police chief Hal Munson is busy with his daughter. Fortunately, Carly offers the voice of reason to her sister, as well as fellow schemer Paul Ryan (Roger Howarth), Barbara's son with James Stenbeck.