Children’s Shows – A Part of My Childhood

If I remember correctly, we got our first television in 1956; I say this because the first thing I can remember watching were stories about the Republican and Democratic conventions which nominated Eisenhower and Stevenson that year. Joe 1955

Children’s Shows

The second thing I remember watching was Skipper Frank (Frank Herman) in the afternoon. He showed cartoons; I loved cartoons (and still do). Mom “hated” him and his “that there” expression. I remember Tom Hatten and Popeye, Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan) and Mr. Green Jeans (Hugh Brannum), Bozo the Clown, Chucko the Birthday Clown (Charles Runyon), and Engineer Bill – Red Light, Green Light – (William Stulla). And, of course, “Sherriff” John Rovick.

My favorite cartoons, however, were from the Crusader Rabbit series. As I look back on them now, they seem rather simplistic in the light of today’s computer animation. But in the 1950s they were a blast. I would often ride my bike to a friend’s house several blocks away to play, read comic books, dig in his backyard and watch Crusader Rabbit and his companion Ragland T. (The) Tiger do battle with Dudley Nightshade. Oh, what fun.

Joe_@_Holy_AngelsI am reminded of this because the L.A. Times this morning ran an obituary article on Lucille Bliss. I’d never seen her name before but she was the voice of Crusader Rabbit in his first series. (I can still recall the Rajah of Rinsewater; what a hoot.) Another part of my childhood gone.

John Rovick died last month and Bill Stulla and Charles Runyon back in 2008. They are gone but not forgotten; I and, hopefully, many others still remember them with fondness. Some ancient Greeks subscribed to the notion that the only immortality for humanity was in the living memory of those who came after them. In my mind’s eye Engineer Bill is running his trains, Sheriff John is putting another candle on my birthday cake and Crusader and Rags are off on another adventure.


A Memory

Yesterday I received a postcard in the mail from my high school (Class of 1968) and decided to visit the website.

It was a nice looking site and easy to navigate. The cross country team did well at Mt. SAC and the Fall Open House is this next Sunday. Mandatory attendance for all students. But I made a mistake and looked at the Alumni section and looked at the memorials. I found that an old friend had passed away.


He and I attended the same elementary school. If I remember correctly, his father was an egg farmer/rancher. I learned we were going to high school together on the first day of school when I boarded the bus two blocks from home; he was already on board, living farther away from the school than I. It was a technical high school with the usual academic classes and two and a half hours of shop (I was in Drafting and he was in Machine.)

After he got his driver’s license, I rode to school with him. What a car. He had a black Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 and could lay rubber in all four gears. It was great fun going to school and we picked up a couple of other guys on the way; I even got to drive it a couple of times.

At the time Arcadia was all, or almost all, white. Our high school it now seems was about a third Mexican/Chicano/Latino (I don’t remember what term was in use all those years ago.). Lo and behold I found out that Izzy was one of them. I had had no idea that he was a member of a different ethnic group. And, I hope that it wouldn’t have mattered had I known. Sunset

I wish now that I hadn’t lost touch with him; he was a nice guy. The world is poorer without him and so am I.


Ties – Affectation to Set an Example

Grinch, Santa, Halloween, Penguin tiesDuring my last decade or so of classroom teaching, I wore a long-sleeved shirt and tie almost every day. Much of that time I was the only male teacher on campus to do so. I taught History and Computer classes, not wood- and metalshop as I had earlier in my career, and did not worry about getting dirty or getting caught up in machinery.


My dad wore a tie, most of my male teachers in high school and college wore ties, so I wore one too. If you expect to be paid and treated like a professional, you should dress like one.

Simpson, Presidents, Candy & Crayola tiesBut ties don’t have to be the boring, formal ties you see on politicians and lawyers. There is a lot of room for imagination and tweaking your nose at the system. A lot of “character” ties exist and now you can design your own and have them economically produced online and by mail order.

When I retired I had a collection of several dozen such ties; enough of them that using only those ties one of my students in a year long class would only see it three times and a student in a trimester class would only see it once.

It was fun. Wear a Homer Simpson tie on test correction day. SpongeBob when you have an important and/or distinguished visitor on campus. And, at Christmas, to stay in character – Mr. Grinch.

Chili, SpongeBob SquareTie & Dodo Bird TiesI saw, and still see, too many men who look uncomfortable in ties. Their shirts are too small or, at least their collar size is too small. Always buy shirts with a collar size one-half inch too large. If you have a sixteen inch neck, buy a shirt with a sixteen and one-half inch neck. You’ll always be comfortable wearing a tie, and, if you gain a little weight, it’ll still fit.

Wear interesting ties, have fun and, if your boss suffers from the Alicia Silverstone disease (You did see the movie Clueless, didn’t you?), enjoy his, or her, handicap.


Our Backyard Birds (in the house, too)

Hummingbirds_3aAs a kid birds fascinated me. To be able to fly anywhere at anytime. Since I couldn’t be bird, I wanted to be a pilot, yeah, and me afraid of heights. My little brother joined the Air Force after one year of junior college and was trained as an electronics technician – he worked on communications and crypto gear.

For a while he was stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast. While there he built and flew a hang glider – he wasn’t afraid of heights.

Merlin and his lovebirdsA couple of years after dad died I moved mom back to where she grew up and most of her family still lived. I flew home. What a rush – the take-off was a blast. Everything was fine until we got up near cruising altitude. The view was fascinating but the thought of being seven miles in the air was not.

The next time I flew was in a single engine four seater owned by a tile contractor friend of mine. He needed to move his plane from one SoCal airport to another and invited me along. This was neat. We never got above twenty-five hundred feet and I had a great time. I’ve flown many times since and gotten used to being so high that I can barely identify anything on the ground, but I still like small planes that fly at low altitude.

As a kid I had a dog and an aquarium full of guppies and tetras but never any birds. Now I have two lovebirds; their names are Bird One and Bird Two and, no, I can’t tell them apart. Merlin likes to sit atop their cage and dangle his tail in front of them. They climb and try to bite his tail, but, to date, they haven’t succeeded.

We also have several bird feeders in our yard: eight hummingbird feeders, four finch (nyjer seed) feeders and three others. We get lots of hummingbirds in both our Bird_at_Feeder_3front and back yards, many finches, sparrows, doves and others.

I also, only half jokingly, tell people that we feed hawks. We can tell when there is a hawk around as the birds disappear or go still. Occasionally “our” hawk perches on our fence and looks for prey. He, or she, also dines in our yard. One afternoon my wife and I were on our patio and the hawk flew into one of our rosebushes to flush a sparrow hiding there. Half a minute later he had the sparrow on a neighbor’s chimney top and was dining. We’ve also seen him hunt unsuccessfully. Occasionally, we find feathery evidence of his presence and success (and also that of the neighborhood cats).

Our hawk on backyard fenceAlthough I’ll never fly like one, I still find them fascinating.


Walking, then and now.

When I was young, I’d often take long walks through the streets of Arcadia and Temple City. It didn’t matter where; I just liked to walk.

Skipper, a cocker/lab mix

I moved to Anaheim after I began teaching in Orange and began jogging along the Santa Ana River Trail; I discovered I could see more in the same amount of time that I had been walking. I’d also keep a change of clothes in my classroom closet, jog to work, teach, change back and jog home a couple of times a week. I continued to jog (but not to work) after I moved to Riverside and then to the beach in the early 80s. The only walking I was doing was when I’d drive to the beach on weekends.

But jogging began to take its toll. My knees and ankles could not take the pounding of five, eight and twelve-mile runs; I had to take aspirin before and after my excursions. It got to the point in the late 80s that I needed an aspirin a mile – so I stopped jogging and walked or rode my bicycle. No pain.

Beach Critter
I wish I had a surfboard.

These days I take my wife to work, park at the beach and walk for a couple of hours. Since I generally walk at the same time every day, I see a lot of the same people day after day. Retirees like myself, mothers with young children, dog walkers, skaters and cyclists, surfers and fishermen.

I put my iPod in my pocket and my camera strap on my shoulder and head toward the pier and the cliffs. Music, a sunny day, people, dogs, squirrels, dolphins, seals, pigeons, gulls, pelicans and sharks, there are always sights to see and, sometimes, to photograph.