Writer’s Workshop: Does A Wild Bear Sleep In The Woods?

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

This week, one of the prompts is this:

Did you watch Saturday morning cartoons as a child? What was your line up?

And the answer, naturally, is the title of this post, which I’ve cleaned up for younger and more sensitive viewers.

I first wrote about the TV viewing habits of the Holton boys during the 2014 A to Z Challenge, about how the three of us would sit in front of the TV, in our underwear, eating Rice Krispies and watching the test pattern as we waited for one of the Chicago TV stations to commence with its broadcast day and thus with the cartoons. We’d watch the test pattern on WBBM-TV (channel 2) for a couple of minutes, then switch over to WNBQ (channel 5), WBKB (channel 7), and WGN (channel 9), which might be on the air with the farm report, and we’d repeat this pattern as many times as it took to finally get a station that wasn’t showing its test pattern or talking about hogs in Peoria. In short, we were TV junkies. And we wouldn’t just do this on Saturday morning, we’d do it on Sunday, and in the mornings before school, and in the afternoons after school. We watched a lot of TV. If it was on, we watched it.

And remember, this was in the relatively early days of TV. We only had four channels (well, five, but the fifth was the educational TV station, which hadn’t turned in to PBS yet). I was really excited when I heard that Chicago was getting another TV station, then realized it was on a channel we couldn’t get on the old metal box on the back porch. I talked about that the next day of the 2014 A to Z.

Nearly 60 years have passed since those days, and my memory of exactly what we watched and when we watched it on a typical Saturday morning (or Sunday morning, or weekday afternoon, or weekday morning) is pretty much gone. So, here’s a list of what I remember on what day. Note that not all of these ran concurrently.

Saturday/Sunday: The Bugs Bunny Show (later The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour), Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo & His Tales, Dudley Do-Right, Top Cat, The Banana Splits (which was part cartoon, part live action), H. R. Pufnstuf (ditto), The Pink Panther, Mighty Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle, The Archie Show and its spinoffs, Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp (mostly live action, but on Saturday morning), The Beatles, The Bullwinkle Show, The Jetsons, and probably a bunch I’m forgetting.

Weekdays: The Ray Rayner Show (featured some Warner Bros. cartoons), King Leonardo’s Short Subjects, Felix The Cat, Dick Tracy’s Crimestoppers!, Woody Woodpecker, shows featuring Hanna-Barbera cartoons (Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, The Flintstones, Magilla Gorilla, Peter Potamus, etc.), Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, Rocky and His Friends, and on and on and on…

That should give you an idea of the many ways we managed to waste many hours parked in front of the TV. And we all got good grades, and we’re relatively well-adjusted, and none of us regrets the time we spent watching.

22 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Does A Wild Bear Sleep In The Woods?

  1. I just love that shows like Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo have managed to stick around for so many generations to enjoy. I watched those shows as a kid too and so have my kids!

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  2. John, remember “Winky Dink”?

    I loved that show and remember being given a plastic sheet that went over the television screen, along with “special crayons” so I could draw pictures when the program was on. Sadly, one day I forgot to put the sheet on and continued to draw. I can still hear my father screaming at me all these years later.

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    1. I think I’m guilty of the same thing, although to be honest I don’t remember the show. Maybe it was my aunt, who’s a couple of years older than I. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of stories like that.

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      1. Mom always said it was you but, as advanced as you were, I don’t think it was possible for you to draw on the television under the age of 1.

        I remember all the Post Cereal gang having cartoons around 6am before the gubmint decided they shouldn’t be advertising sugary cereals directly to children. Also in the wee small hours of the morning were Marvel comics, more famous for their awesome theme songs than their entertainment value.

        And on weekdays, the cartoon that told us we were going to be late: The Funny Company.

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        1. Right around the time Dad died, I remember WGN was running the Marvel Superheroes every weeknight. Remember that?

          As I recall, I spent most of my time before learning to talk getting stitches (Dad said “Bunny, we’d better have another, I don’t think this one’s going to last!”), so how advanced I was is open to some debate.

          I remember “The Funny Company” on “Garfield Goose.” When did they move it to Ray Rayner? I believe you, I’m just not sure when it moved. In 8th grade, I remember watching “King Leonardo’s Short Subjects” at 8:15 then high-tailing it out at 8:30 to get to school by 8:45.

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  3. My Saturday morning lineup from the 70s was very similar to yours. I’m impressed you remembered so many!
    I sometimes laugh when people say things along the lines, “kids these days are so lazy!”, and then I remember the many hours we spent staring at the TV.

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  4. Well, we pretty much have a simliar list of Sat morning cartoons that ran between 1966 and 1974. It’s hard to put them in any order at this stage of life, I agree.

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    1. The problem is that I keep thinking of other cartoons that were on in those days. There were a LOT of different ones in the ’60’s and ’70’s. I guess its day has come and gone. There’s the cable station Boomerang that has a lot of the oldies on it, which is great if your cable package includes it. But so many of them have just disappeared.

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  5. Your TV habits sound pretty much like my own. Couldn’t say what I watched on Saturday mornings. A lot of my TV viewing back then was old movies–kind of like much of what I watch these days.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. When it wasn’t baseball season, WGN played the Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce and the Charlie Chan movies with either Warner Oland or Sidney Toler and Keye Luke as Number One Son on Sunday afternoons. Also during the offseason, one of the kids’ show hosts, Frazier Thomas, hosted “Family Classics” late on Sunday afternoon. Those were some real classics, like “Moby Dick,” “Shipwrecked,” “Treasure Island” and others, all of which were picked by Thomas himself. He was a real classy guy, you could tell he really cared about kids and families.

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  6. Ever watch Clutch Cargo? I thought it was creepy – animated characters with live-action lips. Even to a kid, the cartoon was obviously cheap and cheesy.

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    1. Syncro-Vox! Of course I remember it. WGN also showed “Space Angel,” which did the same thing. There was a third called “Captain Fathom” that I don’t think WGN showed. Remember “The Funny Company”?

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      1. I remember Super Chief and Shrinkin’ Violette, but I didn’t remember the Funny Company name until I read the Wikipedia article just now. Two more pieces of my past fall into place. 🙂

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        1. You realize kids these days wouldn’t understand the joke behind Super Chief? As late as the late ’60’s rail travel was still a major way of getting from place to place, and the Super Chief was the way to go from Chicago to LA in style.

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    1. Since Hanna-Barbera was taken over by Ted Turner, the quality has declined. And that’s just that studio. I found a bunch of “Archie” cartoons on Pinterest yesterday, and learned that they updated the look of the characters a few years ago. Honestly, I don’t like it…

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