11/21/2010

item 1 >>> You might be a Baby Boomer if…you’re not sure if they had the right number of candles on your last birthday cake. You tried to count them, but the heat drove you back…

item 2 >>> 180 Endicott St. in Danvers. Today, the Endicott Square strip mall. Back in the day, it was Mscisz Drive-In, featuring pierogi, galomki, fried cabbage, kielbasa, clams, shrimp, scallops, and pepper steaks.

item 3 >>> And speaking of things Polski, which I’m proud to say amounts to one-quarter of my ethic heritage, I was reminded recently that Chopin was Polish. Commonly called Frederic François Chopin, he was born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin in Warsaw. His mother was Polish, his father was a Frenchman who had emigrated to Poland as a teenager. Chopin was raised and educated in Poland, eventually gravitating to Paris, where he died in 1849 at age 39.

item 4 >>> One of the most beloved, and to some (like me) irritating, kiddie show hosts in Boston was WSBK’s Willy Whistle. When not in costume, he was Dick Beach, Channel 38’s program director. He retired in the early 80s, last heard of living in Kentucky. Yeah, I wasn’t a big fan of his whistling-for-talking gimmick, but obviously kids loved him for the better part of 2 decades. And it’s said that he did occasionally swallow the small whistle he balanced at the back of his tongue. Best of all, You Tube has a video of Willy that gives “trouser snake” a whole new meaning, so to speak…

item 5 >>> Then there was Ed McDonnell, who played Major Mudd, Feep of Fantasmic Features, and Lord Harold Harvey Bumblebrook. I believe I referred to the Tarzan and Bomba movie host as “Henry Harvey…” despite not being able to find it on the internet, which should be a lesson for you: if you get no hits, you’re probably remembering something wrong. Everybody else remembers it as “Harold Harvey…” Well if you’ve got proof, in print, send along a scan and I’ll go back to 9/25 a and correct it. IBBY!

item 6 >>> With an I and a B and a B and a Y  means “I’ll Be Blasting You!” We’ll take a trip in a rocket ship, up in the sky so blue. With Major Mudd in the Nervous One, means lots of fun for you. With an I and a B and a B and a Y…or something along those lines…

item 7 >>> And if you’re in a singing mood, how about that oldie but goodie from Romper Room: Bend and stretch, reach for the stars. There goes Jupiter, here comes Mars. Bend and stretch, reach for the sky. Stand on tippy-toe, oh so high.” The show began in Baltimore in 1953 with Miss Nancy (Claster). It was soon franchised all over the country. Boston had Miss Jean (Harrington). She was born Jean D’Allaire in Salem, and at one point dated Harry Aggnis, the Golden Greek from Lynn. He was a quarterback star at BU, then after a hitch in the marines, an emerging star with the Red Sox. He was off to a strong start in 1955, his second year in the Bigs, when he was hospitalized with pneumonia. He rejoined the club 10 days later, but again fell ill, with phlebitis, and died of a pulmonary embolism. It’s estimated 10,000 people attended his wake. Anyhow, Jean ended up marrying Bill Harrington, a reporter at Channel 5, the original WHDH. When Frank Avruch, Boston’s franchised Bozo the Clown, broke his leg skiing, Harrington filled in as his brother Nozo.

item 8 >>> So whatever happened to Romper Room  Well, it got scaled back in 1968 when the newly formed watchdog group Action for Children’s Television, based in Boston, made the show it’s first major target, for being essentiality a program-long commercial for it’s line of toys. Do be a Dobe, don’t be a Don’tBe, remember? The franchise lasted in some parts of the country until the early 90s. As for Miss Jean, she divorced Bill Harrington, moved to Naples, Florida and married Bruce Durkee, formerly of Lynn.

item 9 >>> Wait a minute…Durkee? From Lynn? That sort of rings bell, waaaaay off in the distance. Well it should. In 1917, Archibald Query of Somerville was selling a concoction he invented door to door. In 1920, he sold it to 2 Swampscott High graduates and budding candy-makers, H. Allen Durkee and Fred L. Mower. They originally called the product Toot Sweet Marshmallow Fluff, but eventually deep-sixed the  Toot Sweet part, and the rest is fluffernutter history. Bruce Durkee was the son of the founder, and company president until his retirement in 1982. Yup, it’s still made at the Durkee-Mower factory in Lynn, altho Somerville has held an annual salute to Arch Query since 2006, calling its weekend festival “What the Fluff?” I’m not kidding.

item 10 >>> Nor am I kidding when I relate that Fluff was once targeted by the Food Police. In 2006, Massachusetts State Senator Jarrett Barrios proposed a bill that would limit junk food in schools, and it specifically limited the number of fluffernutters kids could scarf in a week. The proposal was eventually dropped. I should also point out that marshmallows today contain no marshmallow. That’s a plant whose roots were used to make a kind of meringue, which today’s fluffy sugar confections are intended to mimic.

Wicked Ballsy


In a series within a series, Quick Draw McGraw played in 10 El Kabong cartoons…in the first couple, without a mask, top left. Below is an early appearance of Snagglepuss, but colored orange not pink. Altho he’s called Snagglepuss, and in fact that name appears on a wanted poster, at one point Quick Draw calls him Snaggletooth. And indeed in his first appearance, Snagglepuss refers to an unseen brother named Snaggletooth. He is also seen here as the anti-El Kabong, El Kazing.

These cartoons have a goofy charm I’d completely forgotten about, like in “Who Is El Kabong?” when Eastern-style bandit Norton South forces Baba Looie at gunpoint to reveal that El Kabong is really Quick Draw. “Him?” asks South, and starts to laugh hysterically. Baba addresses the audience (“breaking the 4th wall”) and says: “It is funny when to stop to thin’ of it!” and he laughs too…

shameless de pluggues

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Daily blogs at http://stolf.wordpress.com and  https://deepfriedhoodsiecups.wordpress.com

More bloggage at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi

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