Niagara Gazette — Back in the day, Mom would let me and my sisters sit, “not too close to the screen, it’ll ruin your eyes” with a bowl of formerly crispy cereal, usually our local pride and joy, Shredded Wheat as we sprawled on and under a pile of blankets promising to behave all morning while she went about the business of washing, folding, ironing and hanging clothes, and cooking and cleaning up after her houseful of rambunctious little people.
Fifty years later, recovering from a relatively minor, but immobilizing medical procedure, buried under another pile of blankets, propped up on stacks of pillows, I’ve been forced to watch more television than I’ve seen since my early days before I was 10 years old when my Saturday mornings were filled with Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters like Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and of course, my favorite “real people” the Little Rascals.
I’m not certain, but I’d venture to argue that some of those Saturday morning television shows, with characters like Bozo the Clown, Buffalo Bob Smith, and Captain Kangaroo, together with our parents, teachers, and our preachers had to have had at least some impact on some of us.
For the most part, as far as I can recall, many of the shows were not particularly educational, they diversionary, entertaining and amazingly violent; Tom & Jerry, like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and even Porky Pig could be ridiculously self-destructive.
But compared to what is available to mostly unsupervised children today from the vast array of cable television channels that I had the occasion to surf through recently, Bugs Bunny, Betty Boop, Casper the Ghost and most of my other early childhood cartoon buddies were milk toast.
As rough and tumble as some were, the shows, for the most part seemed to deliver some sort of moral message, basic stuff like, don’t steal, lie, cheat; be fair, be nice, be good.