By Jim “Pappy” Moore
Early Saturday morning in the 1950s and early 1960s, children clamored to get up early to watch The Howdy Doody Show. The show starred a puppet named Howdy Doody with his faithful man, Buffalo Bob, by his side. The show was live before a studio audience of ecstatic young children.
“Hey, kids! What time is it?!” rang out the question to start the show. In the studio and at home children yelled back “It’s Howdy Doody Time!”
The four Moore children were devoted to Howdy Doody and his gang. In addition to his pal Buffalo Bob, there was Howdy’s adopted sister, Heidi Doody. Buffalo Bob was accompanied by another human, Clarabell the Clown. Clarabell never spoke until the final episode of Howdy Doody. That occurred on September 24, 1960, during the last Howdy Doody Show, to the tears of many young kids.
Howdy Doody led off the Saturday morning shows. Howdy Doody was followed by Ruff & Ready, Circus Boy, Fury, and Sky King.
The Ruff & Ready Show was a cartoon show about a cat and a dog from the planet Munimula, which is Aluminum spelled backwards. They were best friends who became crime fighters. The show had a lead-in song which went “they’re rough, they’re ready, they’re always tough and steady ….” It ran first on afternoons, and then later moved to the Saturday morning TV rotation.
Circus Boy was a boy named Corky, starring young actor Micky Dolenz, who would in the mid-1960s become a member of the made for TV pop singing group The Monkees. Each week there would be show around the boy who was part of a circus troupe. He cared for an elephant by the name of Bimbo. Lessons were learned by viewers as Circus Boy experienced life.
Fury – “The Story of a Horse, and the Boy Who Loves Him.” That was the opening of the show about Fury, whose ability to understand complex tasks was amazing. His boy, Joey, could tell Fury to “go get Uncle Jim!” Fury understood and would gallop away to find Uncle Jim and bring him back to wherever Joey was stuck. Uncle Jim was played by Peter Graves, who would in the 1960s become the face of Mission: Impossible, about spying intrigue. Peter Graves had a real-life brother who also acted, none other than Gunsmoke’s Sheriff, actor James Arness as Matt Dillon.
Sky King was a show about a guy whose main claim to fame was flying a twin engine private plane in pursuit of solving problems and mysteries. He was an Arizona rancher with a variety of relatives and associates. They sometimes pursued criminals, sometimes pursued lost people, and generally used the airplane to accomplish such goals. It was high drama for children.
When the television shows ended on Saturday morning, it was just in time for the Kiddie Show at our local movie house, The Pines Theatre. Parents could drop off their kids at the Pines for a cheap babysitter midday Saturdays. The place would be packed with sugar-filled kids ages five to twelve, watching serials such as Buck Rogers, cartoons like Tom & Jerry, and feature presentations appropriate for children such as The Absent-Minded Professor.
By mid-afternoon the kids would have had morning TV and midday fun at the movies. Time to go home, get outside, and play until the sun went down. “You kids go outside and play” came the usual parental instruction on Saturday afternoon. No one had ever heard of play dates. Kids were expected to get on their bikes, make their own arrangements, and go wherever their bikes would take them. Just be home in time for supper.
Copyright 2022, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.