Did TV warp me?

I don’t watch much TV  these days.  Frankly, there’s not much on.  If it wasn’t for NFL football and the medical drama “House”, I hardly would watch at all.

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”.

The Dick Van Dyke Show: I remember the male actor in the center always telling the one on the far right, "Shuddup Mel!" Did this turn me into an angry young man?

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).  

The laid back Huckleberry Hound was one of the cartoon characters I watched as a kid

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.

I think Cactus Joe and Little Bitty Pete were ok. But I don't remember Uncle Looney, a local TV character on the left. Maybe I was so traumatized by him that I buried him deep with my mind.

The somber looking boy in glasses between the cake and Cactus Joe's shoulder bears a striking resemblance to me as a kid. Hmmm...I wonder...

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.

Jon Gnagy


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 don't think I was ever on Artie Levin's show. I was a pudgy kid (my mother said I had "big bones") who wasn't much into physical fitness.

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.

Maynard G. Krebs on Dobie Gillis

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.



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2 responses to “Did TV warp me?

  1. Susie

    Tim, I, too, remember many of these shows (it’s been kind of fun revisiting my childhood through your writings and, even more so, having someone confirm that we actually did experience those things we did). I do remember Uncle Looney, as I got to be on his show! It was a big day for me, though now I don’t really remember specifics – maybe a good thing!

  2. I remember all of these shows from my childhood in Roanoke, Va. One vivid memory is of public ice skating at the Salem Civic Center and seeing Artie Levin on the ice. He was really a good skater if my memories of 45 years past are accurate!

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