A long time ago, in a small village, lived a little girl who loved to watch television. One of her favorite shows to watch was hosted by a beautiful blonde cowgirl. Every day the beautiful blonde cowgirl wore a different cowgirl outfit with stars and fringes. She would look right at the little girl and tell her "I hope you feel as good as you look, because you sure look good to Your Gal Sal," and send her great big "smoocheroonies." The little girl wanted to grow up to be a cowgirl and look just like her and her parents bought her a pretty little red cowgirl skirt and vest with white fringes. One day, her mommy took her for a ride and they stood in a long line, just so the little girl could meet the beautiful blonde cowgirl. The little girl never forgot how thrilling it was or how very beautiful Sally Starr was in person.
Learning about Sally Starr's death on Sunday, at age 90, I couldn't help but remember how very much I loved her as a little girl. I watched her show every day. While I liked Popeye and The Three Stooges, it was Sally Starr I wanted to see.
So of course, thinking about Sally Starr led me down Memory Lane. Walk along with me as we revisit some old beloved friends.
Who Am I?
1. He wore a bowler hat and big floppy shoes. Drove kids around in Chippy the Chipmunk. Handed out Marching Sticks and led a parade of kids around to music as they hit their sticks together. Did magic tricks and made balloon animals. Sang "Happy Birthday" to children when it was their birthdays and asked us all to help blow out the candles. But they'd light back up and he'd tell us that some of us weren't blowing or not blowing hard enough. Come on, admit it. You fell for it and actually blew at the television set, trying to help Happy the Clown blow out those birthday cake candles. His real name was Howard Jones. He was born in 1909 and died 1993. I can just see him now in heaven offering rides on Chippy to all the angels.
2. He wore a full-feathered headdress, beads and buckskin. He was 100 percent Seneca Indian on a reservation in New York. On his show he talked about tribal folklore, customs, language, crafts and chants. He started his television program with "Ees da sa sussaway." which was Seneca for "Let us begin" or "Let's get started." The idea was actually his mom's. He just wanted to say, "roll the cartoon." He had the longest running local TV children's show in the history of the world. He preferred the word "Indian" instead of the politically correct "Native American." Traynor Ora Halftown was born in 1917, died 2003. Chief Halftown, all the kids who ever watched say "Nya-wey"..."thanks" in Seneca.
3. "Let's pretend that it's story time and I'll tell a tale to you, I'll tell you a story of make believe and hope all your dreams will come true, And when the story's over and when we reach the end, We'll live happily ever after…where? In the land of let's pretend." He drew amazing pictures on the Cartoon Corners General Store and had a box of confetti fall on his head. I loved him and wanted to marry him someday when I grew up. Eugene Yulish/Gene London was born in 1931. He is doing well and lives in Reading and New York and spends a large amount of time at his Miami Beach condo. A beach house. I'd love a beach house. I hear he's still single. Hmm ...
4. His coat had big pockets which held wonderful surprises. He lived in the "Treasure House." Had a big moustache. Some of his best friends were Bunny Rabbit, Mr. Moose and Mr. Green Jeans, who had a summer home at Saylors Lake. Captain Kangaroo, (Bob Keeshan,) was born in 1927, died 2004. I still remember him reading "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel."
6. He had hair that looked like a five-point star. He always was getting into trouble. His friend Jack invited us to draw with magic crayons on the Magic Window that was a piece of plastic we placed on the television screen. Jack instructed us what to draw. I loved "Winky Dink and You." He was on television from 1953 to 1957, on Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. Anybody want to admit to drawing on the television screen without the Magic Window?
7. Sleek. Black. Beautiful. I fell in love with him the first time I saw him galloping across the range. Fury, the King of the Wild Stallions. I so envied Joey (Bobby Diamond) because Fury loved him. Jim Newton, (Peter Graves) was the owner of the Broken Wheel Ranch and Pete (William Fawcett) was his top hand. I dreamed of someday owning a horse as beautiful as Fury. I'm still hoping ...
8. Big black ears. Singing, dancing and a different show every day. If you were a true member, you'd sing the club's song with the other members. "Who's the leader of the club, That's made for you and me, M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. Hey! there, Hi! there, Ho! there, You're as welcome as can be, M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. Mickey Mouse! Mickey Mouse! Forever let us hold our banner High! High! High! High! Come along and sing a song, And join the jamboree! M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E.
The Mickey Mouse Club was perhaps my all-time favorite show. I got to know the Mouseketeers like they were my own personal good friends, like Annette, Karen, Cubby, Sherry, Dennis, Charley, Sharon, Darlene, Jay-Jay, Tommy, Cheryl, Larry, Eileen, Lonnie, Margene, Doreen, Bobby and my favorite, Jimmie Dodd, head Mouseketeer. My favorite show within the show was "Spin and Marty" with Tim Considine (sigh) and David Stollery (sigh.)
Those are just a few of my favorites. What were yours?