Friday, January 15, 2010

On Rediscovering Howdy Doody

We got our first television the day we got our first house: October 13, 1949. I was 13 and one half, to the day. It was next to the fireplace, all 19” of it, what was a big RCA for those days, without a magnifier on the picture tube (ask your grandparents about that). I was lying on the floor, feet against the south wall, and Howdy Doody was on the air.

Many years later, Buffalo Bob explained that “Howdy” was what he said at the start of the show, “and every little kid knew what ‘doody’ was.”

I watched the show for several years, or until Mouseketeer Annette Funicello (my age) started growing up. Met her in a Bridgeport record store one day, but that’s another story. Anyway, Princess Summerfallwinterspring was still a puppet until she was magically changed into a sweet innocent girl. Or so I thought; she knew where to sleep.

The show’s director had a son who hung around the studio a lot and later wrote a book about the place. Pulled no punches and called it as he saw it. None of us kids ever realized what was going on in Doodyville, but there was a lot of doody (and whoopee) behind the scenes. “Say, Kids, What Time Is It?” should be required reading.

I recently was given a DVD with loads of episodes from this extraordinarily popular show. Now I can see the little things that I missed the last time. Nothing really big, but my trained eye picks up on the little stuff. It was live television when there were no re-takes and the kids could be a pain.


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