Fun For The Small Fry!

by Robert Smith

What follows is a compendium of classic children’s entertainment and products, much of which we know will bring back fond memories of Saturday matinees, Bonomo Turkish Taffy, and dad threatening to use the “other end” of the belt. Enjoy!

Old Yeller, produced by Walt Disney in 1957, was a hugely successful Disney live action film featuring a young boy who befriends a lovable and wacky stray dog who eventually contracts rabies.  The boy is forced to shoot the dog at the end of the film.

The 1986 children’s book Love You Forever (by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw) features narrative by a mother who continually recites a poem/song featuring the words “I’ll love you forever,” no matter what her son does throughout his life.  When the boy becomes a raucous teenager, the mother creeps into his room at 1:30 in the morning and sings the song to him as he sleeps.  When the son grows into an adult, the mother gets into her car with a ladder attached to the roof and drives across town. She climbs into her son’s apartment, basically breaking in, and sings the poem/song as he sleeps.  An illustration depicts the sleeping adult son in pajamas, curled up in his elderly mother’s arms.

The 1952 Tom & Jerry cartoon “The Two Mousketeers” features the cat being guillotined as the film ends.   The film won the 1951 Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons.  Following the off-screen execution, a little mouse, Nibbles, looks at the camera and says, “C’est la guerre.”

In 1988, the Coca-Cola company began an ad campaign with a jingle with the words “Coke in the morning,” apparently designed to sway people from juices, water, and teas upon waking up and instead to reach for the familiar red bottle or can of carbonated sugar water.

In 1999, Walmart pulled an action figure of WWF wrestler Al Snow that some found offensive; the doll seemed to be carrying a severed head.  In actuality, the wrestler always brought a severed mannequin head to the ring, which was much more tasteful.  A Walmart in Florida in 1995 also banned a T-shirt featuring Margaret from “Dennis The Menace” saying: “Someday a woman will be president!”

One of the most beloved and wholesome family comedy shows in TV history is “The Andy Griffith Show,” and the “Opie And The Spoiled Kid” episode, originally shown on February 18, 1963 and which still shows up in reruns today, features a


The Andy Griffith Show: Life's lessons learned

spoiled friend of Opie’s named Arnold Winker, who always gets his way by throwing huge tantrums.  Arnold is such a brat that he runs around Mayberry getting into big kid-type trouble.  At the dramatic end of the show, both Sheriff Andy Taylor and the boy’s father agree the best way to teach the boy a lesson is to take him to the woodshed – literally.

Herman & Katnip, an action-packed cat and mouse comedy team by the theatrical animated production house Famous Studios than later ran on children’s TV shows throughout the 1960s, featured the cat’s life ending in at least two cartoons in the series.  At various times, the wacky cat (“not that Katnip didn’t have it coming to him,” says the Harvey Toons website) was killed in a rockslide; eaten by sharks; electrocuted by an electric socket; and, in one memorable scene, dying and becoming a ghost that is sent to something that looks a lot like hell. Each time Katnip gets napalmed, a bunch of little mice rejoice in sheer joy.

Hanna-Barbera is fondly remembered for Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones, and The Jetsons.  Other programs churned out by H-B have included JabberJaw, The Biskitts, C.B. Bears, Birdman And The Galaxy Trio, 3 Robonic Stooges, Wheelie & The Chopper Bunch, The Amazing Chan & The Chan Clan, The Funky Phantom, Kwicky Koala, Cattanooga Cats, and The Pac Man/Little Rascals/Richie Rich Show.  Also included were superhero shows such as The Herculoids.

Still available: Candy cigarettes, available in many “old-time” candy shops as well as online.  The packs are of “brands” including Target, Victory, Round Up, Lucky, and other faux manufacturers that kinda sorta look like the more famous cigarette brands.

Robert Smith has experienced every single one of these products and entertainment vehicles, and now spends his days on blood pressure medication, his nights shivering under the covers screaming for his departed Aunt Meg.



Filed under Humor, Posts by Robert Smith

10 responses to “Fun For The Small Fry!

  1. Steve R

    Let’s not forget one of the great parricidal “classics” of all time, “Bambi,” through which millions of psychologically vulnerable children have come to understand that there are men out there who would very much like to shoot their mommies.

    Putting aside psychological trauma and looking at actual physical brain damage, nothing beats the concept of lawn darts. What says “summer fun” more than an arsenal of huge, heavy, pointed metal projectiles hurled into the air above the heads of unsuspecting kids? Natural selection at its finest.

    Slightly less fatal were Clackers. These things were essentially nunchuks for kids (except with blatant pornographic overtones). Two heavy acrylic balls (I told you) hung from strings, and the idea was to jerk your hand up and down (did I tell you?) until you got them to bang together so rapidly they would eventually fly off and shatter an eye socket. What fun.

    The best, though, had to be everyone’s fearless hero, Underdog, who actually popped pills to make himself stronger. And people wonder why old Under is still flying high over the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

    • Robert Smith

      Once, in the Catskills, I saw an act called Los Bols open for the last surviving Barry sister, Claire Barry. Los Bols had the adult version of those clackers that they swung round and round, which was supposed to impress us all, I guess.

      Anyone remember the Whamo Air Blaster? I think the key with those 60s and 70s plastic toys wasn’t so much that they were dangerous, but that they broke on the second use.

      • j.mummerth

        odd ! i had a whamo airblaster and it was still working ten years later when I gave it to a younger cousin !

  2. Jon Pine

    Mom always dreamed that I would grow up to be a doctor, so when I was four or five she bought me a white doctor lab coat and medical kit with tongue depressors, a toy stethoscope and little bottles of candy “pills.” Later versions of the kit did NOT include the candy pills, thanks to many legal complaints that they encouraged kids to gobble up real drugs like candy.

    Then there was Mattel’s “Creepy Crawlers” – a device for baking up rubbery bugs, worms and other delightful things from tubes of colorful liquid “goo.” The electric “oven” heated up the metal molds to scorching temperature, not a smart idea for a kid’s toy. I’ve got my own scars to remind me.

    And remember the “interactive” cartoon “Winky Dink”? You were supposed to purchase a “magic screen” to place over your TV screen and draw on it with “magic crayons” to help Winky Dink get out of predicaments while on various adventures. “Quick, kids! Draw me a bridge!” he might say, so he could cross a raging river.

    Only thing is, kids would sometimes “forget” to use the magic screen and draw directly on the TV screen. But crayons didn’t work, so they’d find something that did – in my case, a permanent laundry marker. Doh!

  3. Jon Pine

    That this toy ever made it to market is astounding. A chiropractor’s wet dream!

  4. Noel G.

    Quite a stretch of time from 1952 to 1999! Being from the earlier end of the spectrum, I recall the cartoon series, Crusader Rabbit (and his sidekick, Rags the Tiger), kind of a precursor to Rocky and Bullwinkle.

    I was only recently introduced to “Love You Forever,” which was enthusiastically remembered by some on Reddit. I looked it up and cried when I read it. Coming from a strict Catholic family whose parents threatened to disown me if I married outside the Church (as it turned out, I did, but happily they didn’t), I could have used that book during my childhood. 😉

    • Robert Smith


      As someone who grew up with parents that weren’t the least bit, shall we say, caring, I still insist that the actions of the mother in that book are as twisted as anything I’ve seen in ages. There is love, and then there is obsession; never should both ends meet.

  5. Ok, all these toys and shows brought back actually happy childhood memories. But the mom singing to the boy/man freaked me out. Not my generation. Nope.
    I’m the girl who won the hoola hoop contest in 5th grade, played with a METAL slinky and cut my fingers and learned to be careful with metal, got knocked in the head by the glass balls from my Klackers. I was great with it until the balls went flying and I’d lose control. And I learned to control the Klackers. And, last but not least, I’m the girl who made real mini-cakes in my real mini-Easy Bake Oven. And I’m still alive to tell the tales. Thanks for the happy stroll down memory lane.

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