Topic: "Goodbye Kids (2)"
The sponsors included Tootsie Roll Pops and Bond Bread ("Helps Build Strong Bodies 8 Ways"--later upped to 12). The characters were Flub-a-Dub, Mr. Bluster, Chief Thunderthud, Princess Summerfallwinterspring, Dilly Dally, Buffalo Bob, Howdy Doody, and of course, Clarabelle. They performed every Saturday morning live from "Doodyville," in black-and-white, right there in front of the Peanut Gallery. Frodo was a regular in front of that tube, and he laughed with everyone else his age who wanted to spray soda water into the face of an evil sibling or two.
Frodo remembers so much of the show, not out of nostalgia, but because of the relevance that the nomenclature has on Middle Earth, even today. "Peanut Gallery" is a term that, if you listen long enough, will be heard almost every day in conversation. "Howdy Doody," as a reflection of a political leader whose strings are pulled by unseen forces, is particularly appropriate. Those formative years, for Frodo, included the magic of storytelling and imagination sprinkled with a dose of comedy and a number of clowns.
Frodo was not there to say "Goodbye Clarabelle" when Mr. Lew Anderson spoke the first and only words the mute character voiced at the end of the final show in 1960. Frodo had gotten too big to ride on that dragon's tail.
Mr. Anderson, age 84, died from prostate cancer earlier this week. Although he was not the first one to play that role (Bob Keeshan, later "Captain Kangaroo" was first), he was the last. The two words reflected in our Topic this evening were the only words to accompany the bicycle horns as communication tools.
Funny, it is, thought Frodo, that he feels badly about not watching that final show. It is as if
he walked away without saying "Thank You" to someone who had offered him the gift of laughter.