Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Childhood Heros













When I was a kid, Sunday morning meant a grueling television schedule. We kept the volume low on all fronts, and made breakfast quietly. If parents waked up, we were on a one-way trip to Lutheransville -- a day spent in Sunday School with blunt scissors and paperdoll wiseguys.

Breakfast entree of choice was magically delicious. I ate only the marshmallow charms, and left whatever was remotely nutritious (or at least not dangerous) to dissolve in a bowl of red dye#3 milk.

To refresh the palate was Euell Gibbons, an itinerant vagrant. Gibbons pitched for Grape Nuts cereal. We liked him quite as much as the cartoons. Euell Gibbons lived off native plants and grasses, hopping freight trains to travel around America. At least, that's how we saw it. "These are waaaald hikry nuts," he'd say gleefully. At an age where we'd sample our own mudpies, any nut sounded ok.

Actually, we took all our TV Gods at face value -- Sheriff John, Chuckles the birthday clown, Hobo Kelly. Serial or cereal box, hand-covered ski sock with plastic lips, we were pretty easy. Kids are way too sophisticated for that stuff today.

Or not.

There are a couple of boys who live down the street from me, ages 2 and 4. Oh, and their daddy adores them; the three form an inseparable alliance. Hartwell and his brother loves them some garbage trucks. They tried to explain the fascination one day, but words failed to capture the monumental thrill of seeing that robot arm pop out the side of the truck and grab and lift the containers. Hartwell delves into his own private vocabulary when attempting to communicate something really important.

But no matter, I understood. And so does their father. If you're ever on my street on trash day at 7 a.m., you'll see the three of them, sitting on the curb, waiting for the show to begin.

33 comments:

  1. Well those garbage trucks are fascinating. They beep too.

    enismo

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  2. Ahhh, that's so sweet. The only thing that would make that picture of your neighbors on the curb more charming is if they were eating their cereal out there.

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  3. Euell was a respected environmentalist until the commercials put a little tarnish on his reputation.

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  4. Is Huell Gibbons still alive?

    A lot of todays people behave like they could use some Sunday school.

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  5. Garsh, you're right CO, Euell and Heuell have their similarities.I wiki'd Euell and he was born the same year as Zorthian, but died decades earlier. So much for hickory nuts.

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  6. Should have eaten rosehips instead.

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  7. I'm interested in this father who thinks enough of his boys to have them all wait together for the garbage truck. Sounds like a plan...maybe they could eat Grape Nuts...beep beep beep beep beep...

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  8. Love the visuals that you invoked with this post, and the memories of the wonder of childhood discoveries and quiet mornings. My dad used to let me eat supper in the hallway while watching TV in the living room once in a while - on the sly, so my mom would not object. And when they renovated the local mall, my then little son would go with me or his dad to watch the big machinery operate from the parking structure. He had this elaborate story he made up about what is going on down there - if I only taped it.

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  9. TV – SHMVEE – We never had one. Saturday’s, as a young kid my childhood heroes, on Saturdays were Cowboys. There was Red Ryder and Li’l Beever, played by Wild Bill Elliot and Bobby Blake. They were at the top of the totem. Following were Whip Wilson, Lash LaRue, and Johnny Mack Brown. The sounds of these names are a concert of harmonies that still ring in my ears when I recall them. After the movies, I raced from Ace Theater to home. I could run forever, jumping over obstacles and never looking back. Whadda life! I never had a horse. I didn’t need no Horse! I ran with the best of them on Saturdays. During the week I was driven and pulled by my ears. The sounds from musicals were magnets that pulled me in wherever and wherever I could find them. This tier homed Mario Lanza, Judy Powell, Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel, Gordon McCray, and occasionally a film clip of the great coloratura of the 30’s and 40’s, Lili Pons. I was always drawn to the voices. When I heard Mario Lanza in Student Prince, I know I would to sing opera. Movies only lasted two days at The Ace. I would save 12 cents for each one that appeared during the week and sit through the two showings for the two days. They say you can’t go home again. Not true. I can recall the beauty, simplicity, and peace of those innocent twelve cent days with great detail. I can still relive the run on Saturday Morning. I still hear the sounds of the music.

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  10. You've made my crummy day. And let's hear it for red milk. Mmmmm. My favorite.

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  11. I had Euell Gibbons confused with Wilford Brimley.

    I considered being dragged off to church on Sundays a form of child abuse. Did I hear trash trucks?

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  12. A sweet story. I love this dad and his boys.

    We were not allowed to watch TV during daylight unless it was too cold to play outside. If the sun was out and the weather acceptable, we were outside. My neighborhood was in the process of being built. We had forts on lots and dirt hills all over the neighborhood, all kinds of imaginary transportation, and herds of wild (imaginary) horses that needed tending. I really didn't want to stay in and watch TV because I had so much to attend to out of doors.

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  13. I loved my Sundays, P. I was in competitive sports from a very early age, and I took it all so seriously; the cool down of Sunday TV and cereal was a sweet piece of childhood for me.

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  14. Oh believe me, there were many days when I was jealous of the kids next door because they got to watch cartoons. I didn't know who the TV heroes were that all the other kids talked about and I felt like a total dork.

    But I had all those horses. A lot of responsibility.

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  15. And someone hiked up to mile two at Echo Mountain. Good girl! For good luck, I always knock that post on the head. You, on the other hand, knock your head on the post?

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  16. Har de har. I knew you'd recognize it. It's not a new photo, I just needed a change. Haven't been to the two in a while. It's my favorite two. I miss it.

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  17. Proof that kids are awesome if we let them. Thanks for a thoughtful, very fun post--I loved the imagery of you as a kid.

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  18. Your hand-covered sock invoked a massive visual of some woman who had sock puppets - one was a lamb. The woman was fairly pretty and somehow I think her name started with an S - come 3am I will be able to fill in some of this honeycomb.

    Shaynee ... Sharie ... someone ...

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  19. Julie, she was Shari Lewis and the puppet was Lamb Chop:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shari_Lewis

    Shari was a ventriloquist and Lamb Chop had an adorable voice. Good memory. Thanks for reminding me.

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  20. Well CB3Dot you hit the nail on the head for me. You managed to drag a few nice memories out that I'd forgotten. May I share one. Captain Kangaroo. When he would tell us to leave the room so he could talk to our moms, I actually left and my mom was at WORK! I was a dork to the 10th power. Also when they shot that puffed wheat out of that cannon,,, you guessed it, I hid behind the sofa. I was an only child and my childhood was spent in an imaginary world. Maybe I"m still there! Those were the days alright. Snap, Crackle and Pop!!!!

    K, nice, nice post. I want to see Hartwell and his bro!

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  21. Virginia, that's adorable! I do remember Captain Kangaroo. And Bozo the Clown, who was a little bit icky. I know someone who actually played the Grand Prize Game. Woohoo! A celebrity.

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  22. Virginia. I checked your blog. I'll have to go back! I noted the grandmother of five, which led met to a recent gramps incident. One of my daughters called to congratulate me on having a new great grandson. She has two daughters. Didn't tell me which one was the mom. She was always like that. Starting. Not finishing. I placed it in my queue of things to do. . .

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  23. Watching garbage trucks must be like watching the trains when you live by the tracks.

    Being an H.R. Puff n' Stuff girl, myself, most animated creatures held no sway with me. Although, bugs was holy as Sinatra and the Pope in our house.

    Later, the figurines of Snap, Crackle, and Pop arrived on my desk. They were used as models to be sent to animation/stop motion studios and they were well protected, traveling in their own little wooden box. I had to hide them from the creatives for their own safety. It was the memory of what they had done to the little Doughboy models--taking their mad raging pent-up frustration out on those poor little white hoohoos; they stabbed them to smithereens with their big black pencils-laughing like jackals.

    Luckily, this set of Snap, Crackle, and Pop were donated safely to this place in NoHo. And I don't give a flying hickory nut what they did with them. ----out of my hands----

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  24. CB3 Dot, You ain't no great granddaddy for sure. Surely you jest. I however a daughter that might be like yours. Could that be? Hmmm She kept on having em till her third is JUST like her. Ain't backbacks hell!
    KB, this has been a fine , fine trip down memory lane, what I can remember.
    V

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  25. OMG, I have a confession I need to get off my chest. I was known to leave bowls of cereal and a cup of milk in the frig for Sat. mornings. HELLO, Meet the Mother of the Year! I'm lucky I'm not in jail!HA

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  26. Am I the only one who remembers the clown on Captain Kangaroo? He would pull out these incredibly big objects, like a huge bunch of bananas from seemingly normal-sized pockets. And he would say nothing but a sort of elongated "Woooow"

    Flenthicly yours.....

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  27. Virg, take the kids out of the room. It's time I had a word with all your moms.

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  28. "blunt scissors and paperdoll wiseguys" should be the title of a collection of your work.

    My Saturday mornings involved frosted Flakes and old Looney Tunes reruns. I vaguely remember Captain Kangaroo. He was scaaaaary! But not as creepy as that weird puppet with the pitchy voice on Mr. Rogers. I was so freaked out by that puppet.

    Mostly, I remember my mother turning off the TV and blasting old jazz standards on the stereo.

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  29. Finally got the courage up to
    admit I was scared silly by the
    Nairobi trio...

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  30. Ok Bandit, you made me wiki this. No wonder you were scared.

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  31. I remember Sheriff John very well (Put another candle on the birthday cake). ...and Diver Dan, Mr. Green Jeans and the "Cartoon Ho...!" lady. Not "Ho" but tramp. I mean Hobo Kelly and her magic toy-making wash machine. As kids, we were only allowed granola, but I knew where the brown sugar was, rendering it less healthy than the Silly Rabbit's breakfast meal. Life was good--still is.

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