Thursday, December 21, 2006

Some Old Friends

Since people are posting their favorite Christmas vids, I'll post mine.

In Chicago, there was a kid's show called Garfield Goose. It was hosted by a guy named Frazier Thomas. His puppet friends in the picture are Garfield Goose and Romberg Rabbit.

This show caused me to grow up in confusion. Frazier Thomas would have conversations with Garfield and Romberg. Garfield's sole dialogue was a furious clapping of his beak. I figured that he was talking in some kind of morse code that Thomas could understand. Romberg, on the other hand, would move his little puppet face but wouldn't talk! For the life of me, I could not understand how Thomas was understanding a word that Romberg said.

In any event, during the holiday season, they would play a couple of holiday-themed videos. One was "Susie Snowflake," which I hated like eating rutabaga. "Hardrock, Coco and Joe," on the other hand, were the bomb.



By the way, those Chicago folks (or transplanted Chicago folks like Chris) might be interested in this book:

It's title is pretty self-explanatory-- it's about children's tv shows in Chicago in the sixties-- Ray Rayner, Kukla, Fran and Ollie, etc. This book, which I got as a gift a few years ago, was the source of some relief for me. It confirmed to me that the actually was a bizarre kid's show called "Kiddie-a-go-go" which featured Chicago kids dancing to the hits of local groups, and 10-year-old girls in mini-skirts. I had thought it might have been a figment of my imagination. The book is published by Lake Claremont Press. They've got a ton of cool books on Chicago history. If anybody needs a copy of this as a last-minute holiday gift, they do sell their books at their office, which I think recently moved to 4848 N. Clark St. in Chicago.

23 comments:

lulu said...

Does their office have a storefront? That's gotta be right around the corner from my house and I can't think of where it might be.

Chris said...

Holy Shit! I totally remember Hardrock, Coco, and Joe! My brother, sister and I used always have a little contest. Out of the blue, one of us would say "I'm Hardrock!" The quicker person would say "I'm Coco!" Alas, nobody wanted to be Joe.

What about "The Magic Door", the Jewish childrens program. I can still remember the theme song. Ray Rayner was still on in the 70s, too.

vikkitikkitavi said...

I grew up in Indiana, but of course we got WGN. I fucking hated Garfield Goose, but I loved Family Classics, even though they showed Journey to the Center of the Earth, like, every other week.

Johnny Yen said...

Lulu- I think it does-- they were right next door to the Rockwell el stop on the brown line for years-- they must have just moved. I've bought a lot of books there (they sell remaindered copies of their books) I got my friend Jim a book about Chicago's old film industry-- at the time, he was living in a building on Argyle that had been the dormitory for employees of Essanay studios, which was next door-- it's now a college. I also got a bunch of books on Chicago ghost stories for Adam.

Chris- I remember The Magic Door, too! They mention that in the book-- I think the guy's name was "Tiny Tov." How did the little rhym go? "A room zoom zoom, a room zoom zoom..."

A WGN cameraman is a regular at the restaurant. He said that Ray and the guys who ran the show were party animals-- drinking on the set, sex with Ray Rayner groupies in broom closets, and things like that.

One of the memories I have is when he'd let Chelveston the Duck loose and play the song "Saturday Morning Confusion." Was he still doing that one when you watched it?

One of the sadder moments, that you're probably too young to remember, was when "Officer Vic", a policeman in a helicopter who'd do traffic reports, crashed-- Rayner was actually really good talking about it on his show the next morning.

Hey-- either of you remember BJ and Dirty Dragon?

Johnny Yen said...

Oh yeah-- I loved Family Classics.

The weeks they weren't showing Journey to the Center of the Earth, they were showing Sink the Bismark.

What was that serial that Frazier Thomas used to run-- Journey to the Beginning of Time? It was about a group of people who take a wrong turn in a museum and end up going back in time.

Chris said...

Hell Yeah! Gigglesnort Hotel! The Blob! Our neighbor played the trombone in the Bozo Show band. I remember Rayner's two-sided Cubs/Sox hat. I vaguely remember the duck, too.

The song was "Open the door, the magic door with me. With you r imagination, Oh what sights we'll see" - or something like that.

Johnny Yen said...

I just remembered that my ex-wife Cynthia was on the Bozo show. Do you remember how people would sign up for tickets when their kids were born so that they could go on when they were 7 or 8? The wait for tickets was huge.

Cynthia went with a bratty neighbor kid. They were sitting near the band, and the other kid didn't like how loud the band was, so her mother made her switch seats with her. Of course, the other girl got picked for the grand prize game (remember those alternating arrows?) Cythnia was traumatized for life that she would have been picked had she stayed in that seat.

I remember right after my family moved out of the city in 1971, seeing my old school friend Peter Everskamper being picked for the Grand Prize Game. I think he made it to bucket number 5. It was way-cool seeing my friend on tv.

lulu said...

Ray Rayner had groupies? How creepy.

Johnny Yen said...

I don't think they were Ray Rayner groupies so much as television -industry-people groupies.

kim said...

Your step-daughter brought this book with her to school the other day.

GETkristiLOVE said...

I miss Kukla and Ollie, but I didn't like Fran so much.

Palette said...

ok. My sister and I, in a fit of love for Garfield Goose, filled my grandmother's room with lettuce leaves, which ticked my recently divorced and extremely mentally unstable Mother, to say the least, off.
That Chica a gogo dancing thing is the dream child of some F****D up hippy punk rockers but brilliant in its pluralism.\Some of the sock puppet's little. sayings used to be code words around Que Syrah

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