Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Local Pacific Northwest Children's shows

Most regional locations around the US have had their local, live kid's TV shows over the years. I started watching them when I was a kid in the 50s and 60s. They were the shows you waited to see after school, a kind of reward for sitting through boring classes all day. I couldn't find actual video from some of these shows but supplied what I could find on either the show or the actor.

I have heard about TV being a video wasteland and it certainly has been, but I think more so in the 1980s than the 1960s. Some, most, or all of these shows won awards and I have fond memories of them; while some of them, hae taught me a lot, too.

Here is a list of the kinds of shows we watched here in the Pacific Northwest. A few were national, most were not.

Romper Room. The Backstory
Mostly a show about kindergarten kids. This was an international show that used local talent for the locally aired shows.
Wunda Wunda
A clever show about young children with a witch as host that for some reason, I found mesmerizing back then.
Kookla, Fran, and Ollie
This show was so weird, I just watched it sometimes because it fascinated me so much.
Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop
This woman may have been my first crush. And Lamb Chop was just cool, innocent but with a vein of underlying rascalness.
The Brakeman Bill Show

I was on the Brakeman Bill show several times with a few hand picked students from my dojo, Steve Armstrong Sensei's Issuinryu Karate dojo in Tacoma, Washington. We went on the show to demonstrate Karate as Sensei was always into spreading the word. This was my first time on TV and I demonstrated some punching and blocking techniques with another student.

Later, Bill showed up with his son. He said that he had been having problems in school because of his dad being "Brakeman Bill" which is understandable. I got to be good friends with his son and he finally actually beat me at the Bremerton Tournament one year. We fought two overtimes after the fight tied. I should have won but the judges thought we were going to fight all night. People told us later it was a better fight than the main adult event that night. I threw a flying side kick, he put his hand up to keep me from hitting him and they counted it as a punch. He told them that wasn't the case but he won anyway to get it over with. We were pretty exhausted. So he got third place, I got fourth. He apologized later and all I could tell him was that he was my student and that I was very proud of him for beating me. And, really, I was. But I felt pretty badly at the time.

This was the same tournament I had to fight a guy that pretty much terrified all my fellow students. When they called his name indicating who would fight him, I said, "I pity the guy that has to fight him." Everyone agreed, then they called my name and the universe stopped and everyone walked away from me on the bleachers. I remember one of my dojo mates coming up to me before the fight and handing me a packet of honey saying, "Take it, you're gonna need it." I lost that fight, mostly out of fear. The other guy knew it, knew I was heavily outclassed and took it easy on me.

Another funny story. Years later, after the military, after college, I ran into a guy, actually he ran into us, he would come into Tower Video in Tacoma and bring us pizza. We thought he was a bit odd, but seemed nice enough. He said he ran the camera for channel 11 for the State Lotto. Saturday nights he drove to the station (Tacoma or Olympia, I wasn't sure) and he was tired of it. If I wanted the job, he said he would give me an "in". So I did what he said, I applied. I had to go to Channel 11 to interview.

Turned out, it was with "Brakeman" Bill. I wanted to tell him, I was the one that taught his son Karate down at the dojo. He won that trophy because of my instruction. But Bill was such a hard ass and so, kind of, mean, I was a bit stunned and it never came up. He acted like that guy that sent me was non existent. Where that guy told me I could be taught to run the camera, Bill said, "Let's face it, you don't know how to run a camera." And that was the end of that. Where he seems so nice in public, he was kind of an ass at work acting as an executive.

JP Patches
Even in High School I would put his show on while I was getting ready for school. I loved the opening. I started with JP the clown, and "mayor of the city dump" sleeping, with only his head and feet supported, then the grandfather clock went off and the face of the clock lifted up at the bottom and dropped some water on to him wherein he fell, and jumped up and the music picked up and it was a fun and reassuring beginning to my day.
Captain Puget
Sometimes he would have Ivar Haglund on playing guitar, who was famous for Iver's seafood restaurants in Seattle. I loved this show and it may have something to do with my love of the Puget Sound region and the ocean in general. I liked his show because I never felt that he talked down to us as kids.
Stan Boreson (1957)
I loved this guy and his show, he was always so funny.
Captain Kangeroo
The Captain was always entertaining, I loved Crazy Bunny and Mr Greenjeans and everyone really, was always so relaxed on that show.

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