Esther notes that my possum grin trauma amounted to:
A perfect “Be careful what you wish for” moment.
Rita was sympathetic:
Oh my. Poor little Ed. I went on the Howdy Doody Show when I was a kid ~ less traumatic…
You are so funny. I got several possum grins during my youth but never saw the dreaded thumb. I remember how excited we all would be before finally getting up there to that cute little sock puppet, which we considered to be magic and REAL!! I remember licking my finger and my dad knocking my hand down because “you don’t know whose finger has been in that sock!!”
I love and appreciate the memories your stories bring to the forefront. Thank you.
I applaud you for bringing up these great memories. My family lived in Killeen before we moved to Austin in the early 60’s. I remember watching Zeebo the Clown on Channel 6. I was one of the audience members in one of his shows and also saw him at a theater one time in Killeen doing a Saturday morning show for kids. He was amazing in my eyes. Kids would come up and scribble on a large pad and he would take that scribble and create a recognizable “something” from it. That guy could take any scribble and make it into something. I’m not sure he was ever stumped. And he had a cigar whistle in his mouth that he would make sounds as he drew instead of talking. Man, those were great times. Thanks for bringing them back, Ed.
It seems that every town had its own afternoon children’s TV show. It seems to me that we’ve lost something over time.
Chicago had a circus show–the name escapes me–featuring Princess Mary Hartline. We got to go. After the show we all lined up to meet the cast. Princess Mary was reading something and never once looked up at any of us.
Barbara chimes in:
We had Sally Starr in Allentown, PA, a cowgirl!
Zeebograms and possum grins, great memories of innocent times.
Pati sent along this photo of her first TV set, along with her comments:
This picture taken Christmas 1958 is the only one we have of the TV. We got it in 1952 between the Democratic and Republican presidential conventions. I think my parents saw the first convention at someone’s house and decided to get a TV so they could watch the other one at home. We used this TV until after I graduated from high school in 1967. We had an electric antennae turner that we had to use to get the three channels available in northeast Texas. Keep up the good work.
I don’t recall Uncle Elihu, but I do remember Zeebo. I even got the opportunity to sit in his equivalent of the Peanut Gallery (ala Howdy Doody) on a show and get my caricature done. I don’t recall very much detail, but I do have the distinct feeling of having been rather disappointed. So, I mirror your memory of your visit to Uncle Elihu. Never could manage to fly, either, no matter how many times I jumped off the eave of our roof with a cape! Boyhood dreams.
I have a Zeebo story in the works, too, Alan. I don’t know when I’ll post it exactly, but stay tuned.
Oliver has an international take on local programming:
The prehistory of TV and the changes it wrought are a fascinating topic. Something that’s not clear to me and that I wouldn’t have expected is how, with so few stations, there could be local programming. How did that work exactly? In France in the beginning the programming was nationwide; we had to wait until the advent of a third station (in the late 70s, I believe) to get regional programming.
Finally, this from Stephen:
I grew up in Waco until age 9 when we moved to south Texas. We lived on Trice and Windsor, very close to Sleeper, and also on Sanger and Lawrence, which was behind the 10 acres. I attended both Crestview and Dean Highland elementary. I have really enjoyed your strip and the readers’ comments.
My father is Uncle Elihu, still in good health and living in Victoria, Texas. I was fortunate to have been able to participate in some of the shows from time-to-time, most memorably as “Kedso” the clown in the live commercials when US Keds shoes sponsored the show. He was somewhat of a local celebrity in those days but I am here to tell you that he is a regular guy and was a terrific dad and one of my greatest mentors. There was a reunion a few years ago that you can see on YouTube if you are interested.
On another subject, when the 1953 tornado hit, my dad was a reporter for KWTX. He was downtown by 5pm and was there for three days and nights with absolutely no sleep covering that disaster. My grandfather had a hatchery and feed store at the end of the suspension bridge on 2nd and Bridge (right where the Hilton is now) which was totally destroyed as well. It was not until later that my dad was able to go to that location and check on his folks. Luckily, they had not gone to the hatchery that afternoon as was their usual routine, and were home when the twister hit.
Stephen, thank you for letting us know that our beloved Uncle Elihu is still alive and well. I know many of my readers will be as thrilled as I was to hear it.