When I was a boy, however, I watched TV a lot. I used to climb the backyard fence to my friend Jeff’s house and watch “Leave it to Beaver”, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Andy Griffith Show”. Sounds like a TV Land marathon, doesn’t it. But I saw these shows in “real time”.
Cartoons were a staple of my life as a kid. There was “Quick Draw McGraw”, a horse who was a law man and “Huckleberry Hound” a blue dog. (He comes to mind every time I encounter the “Huckleberry Trail” near my home).
This latter show is a testament to the lasting effect of TV on children. The sentence, “I hate meeces to pieces” popped into my brain as I thought of the show and I couldn’t place the cartoon. A quick Internet search shows that it was a common opine of a character “Pixie & Dixie and Mr. Jinks”. I have very little recollection of this show, but it was a segment on “Huckleberry Hound”.
This makes me wonder what lurks in my subconsious as a result of being part of the TV generation. Have I been warped for life? (There’s not tons of that left for me anyway, but I still want to ask.)
We tended to watch “Alvin and the Chipmunks” frequently, also, if my fading neurons serve me correctly. I think my Dad liked that show. I can’t imagine the cuddly little guys causing me great harm. The current characterization leaves me cold. Now these current chipmunks are strange. Current kids watching them could grow up to be weirdos. There is nothing like good ole’ old-fashioned animation.
Then there were the local shows I watched growing up in southwest Virginia. One of my favorites was “Cactus Joe”. He was a cowboy character with a sidekick named “Little Bitty Pete”, ‘a la the old “Gunsmoke” series with Marshal Dillon and Chester. I might have actually watched “Cactus Joe” live on set as a child. I read one comment on the Internet describing the show as eccentric. Generally, all Virginians are that way, so I can’t imagine being emotionally mangled by that show.
There are other shows floating around in the recesses of my mind from childhood, also. They include the amiable figure called “Captain Kangaroo”. He was welcoming, unlike the later “Mr. Rodgers”, who struck me as a little weird. Captain Kangaroo has been described as “grandfatherly” by Wikipedia.
Some shows my parents must have watched. There was a show called “Learn to Draw” with a fellow who had a little, pointy goatee. It turns out this TV artist was a fellow named Jon Gnagy. I may have confused him with Mitch Miller, the orhcestra leader. They both looked like Vincent Price-type characters to me. Perhaps I was warped by “Learn to Draw” for that reason. It could be why I never learned to draw.
Another show that my parents must have watched was Artie Levin. He was the local Jack LaLanne. I didn’t remember him until I saw him in a photo on the Internet, but I recognized him. Pictures of him show him to look like a friendly sort, so I don’t think he did me any harm.
I think my memory goes as far back as Dobie Gillis because a beatnik character from the show played by Bob Denver, who later became famous as Gilligan, occasionally enters my cranium. For some reason I think of him sitting in a coffee shop, banging on bongos and saying, “Roy, philosophy, way out”. Or that could have been one of his friends introducing himself. My brain is muddled on that at this point in life.
When we didn’t have a TV while living in Finland, I would entertain the kids by going to You Tube and introducing them to some of my old favorites. I suppose I wasn’t damaged by them if I was willing to subject my old children to these shows.