The Cheese Stands Alone1-04
The baby boomers were catered to in unprecedented ways. For instance, there were television programs for kids, filmed locally with various hosts, showing cartoons, and then having an audience of local children.
Howdy Doody. Buffalo Bob. Howdy was a puppet, and then there was the Peanut Gallery, which was the kids. I think there was a clown named Clara Belle. He was a man, I think, but Clara Belle sounds more like a woman’s name. Go figure. His thing was he never spoke, but would just honk a horn. Like Harpo Marx. I think that one time, after he retired, some kids recognized him and were trying to get him to talk, but he wouldn’t. He felt it would let them down.
I already mentioned Kukla, Fran, & Ollie. And The Friendly Giant.
There was a show that was filmed at Santa’s Village, which was on Highway 17, on the way to the beach. They had giant mushrooms made out of cement, and there was the North Pole, which was like a giant thermometer with a blue light bulb on top. Santa’s Village might have had reindeer and a sleigh that they pulled. You could ride in it. There was a gas station there. Whenever the family went to the beach the kids would see it and try to get the parents to stop — at least to get some gas — but they never would. Claimed the gas was too expensive. Also, I think they didn’t want to get sucked into another roadside attraction. It was frankly a tourist trap. Briefly, there was a show filmed there, and I don’t remember if Santa was ever seen, but there was an elf called Little Woozy. To be quite frank, he was probably a pot head, and this was just a big inside joke. Little Woozy would toke a huge amount of marijuana to get “in character.” Probably.
One time there was another character called Hannibal the Cannibal. He was coming, and Little Woozy was frightened. The other elves were singing about it, and the song went, “Hannibal the Cannibal is 12 feet tall. When he wiggles his ears the trees all fall. Hannibal the Cannibal is 12 feet tall.” When he finally came, and met Little Woozy, he was actually pretty nice. He was a big Hawaiian dude with glasses and a shell necklace. The Big Kahuna. The kids had no idea that Little Woozy was a pot smoker, if in fact he was, and it is only in retrospect that I, your humble narrator, would even consider the notion.
There was another show with a cowboy called Marshall J. His ranch was called The Running J Ranch. He also was very laid back, some would say stoned. This show suddenly disappeared, and the rumors were that he was busted for pot. A “J” was slang for a joint. A marijuana cigarette. And a running J, or a run, was when it burned unevenly. You had to stop the run by wetting your finger with spit, and squelching it. Or so I have heard.
Bozo the Clown was a well known kiddie show host, and there was a persistent urban myth that he had interviewed one of the kids, had him tell a joke, and it was a dirty joke. He said it was a Bozo No-No. The kid flipped him the bird and said, “Cram it, Clown.” In San Jose, the local version of Bozo was called Hocus Pocus. So, after the kid said the joke, he said it was a hokey pokey no-no. That’s the San Jose version of the urban myth. Anyway, Christopher remembers that Hocus Pocus did say, “That’s a hokey pokey no-no.” Of course, as with all urban myths, he didn’t hear Hocus Pocus with his own ears say it on the show. But someone claimed they saw it. So, he did hear this, but it was second hand — hear-say evidence — not admissible in court. The rest of the story either never happened, or happened on a different clown show — like Bozo in Chicago or Boston. Frankly, I am fairly certain that in actual fact, this event didn’t happen, but the rumor spread like wildfire and would not die. So, it should have happened.
One thing that did happen was that Christopher’s sister Nancy was on the show, and she won the marching competition. They played John Phillip Sousa marches and had the kids all march around. Nancy had seen it and she knew that the kids who lifted their legs up the highest always won, so she made sure she was all but goose stepping. And she won. Another thing I heard about Hocus Pocus was that he had a church, but that it was probably a tax scam because churches didn’t have to pay property taxes. Christopher overheard some adults say this, and found it very interesting, but the best thing about it was he pictured Hocus Pocus in full clown regalia giving the service. Then, when he was bored in church, he would picture the pastor and the deacons as clowns. When they gave out the eucharist, they would arrive in a tiny car, and then start pouring out, holding the silver trays that held all the grape juice in the little tiny cups, and the big soda crackers. Christopher’s church just used grape juice, not wine. It was Welch’s grape juice. The Catholics used real wine, but it didn’t taste so good. The choir boys would drink it sometimes. So, that is how Christopher kept from getting bored in church. He would imagine either the clown church, or the choir boys getting drunk — or a merry combination of both scenarios.
Nancy actually got to be on the Hocus Pocus show, but Christopher didn’t envy her. It was a show for little kids, and Christopher was much too mature. If he had been able to be on TV, he would have picked The Captain Satellite Show. It was filmed in Oakland, and sometimes they mentioned Children’s Fairy Land, or The Nut Tree Toy Shop. They both sounded like really cool places. The stuff of which dreams were woven. There was another show called Romper Room, with Miss Nancy, the hostess. It was kind of a silly show, for kids — like the Hocus Pocus Show. Miss Nancy had a magic mirror or magic glasses, and she would look at the camera and claim she could see the kids. She would say, I see Sally, and Roger, and Bill, and Donnie. It was magic, but Christopher wasn’t fooled for long, as he soon figured out that Miss Nancy could really see through the TV set. She was just calling out names at random, and of course, she might call your name, but how many hundreds of kids had the exact same name, out in TV Land?