musings

Damn, I miss the 80s…

I didn’t grow up in Oakland, California. I’ve never even been to California. Thanks to YouTube, I can watch old clips of a puppet duo called Charley and Humphrey. They had a show in the 70s, but then after the show went off the air, the duo starred in one minute PSAs. Voiced by Pat McCormick, Charley (the horse in the sailor’s cap) and his sidekick, Humphrey (a bulldog), would deliver quick lessons of life to children in the San Francisco Bay area on KTVU, a local channel.

Here are a few Charley and Humphrey clips I found this morning:

The library is a good place to be.
I like the jaunty little intro. And I like how McCormick doesn’t really change his voice between these two characters.
No, I didn’t do any exercise…
Hitting someone in the nose doesn’t make you right. It just makes you a bully.

We did kind of have this kind of thing in Virginia. Back in the early 80s, most areas had independent television stations. Where I lived, we had WTVZ channel 33, which was secular, and WYAH, which was owned by Pat Robertson and the Christian Broadcasting Network. I remember WYAH, in particular, had morals lessons like the ones above. They had this one feature called “Squeaky’s World” that was Christian and involved puppets. The one clip I can clearly remember was about the evils of lying. Squeaky was washing himself in the shower, singing about washing away his sin with a little bit of soap. The punchline was that he was using “lie soap” (lye soap). I doubt I can find “Squeaky’s World” on YouTube, although a thorough Web search finds a mention of it in a Virginia Beach newspaper from 1979. My sister was annoyed with me once because I was watching it.

I haven’t watched a lot of network TV lately. I have a feeling that the stuff we used to love watching when we were growing up would be considered totally lame today. I loved the weird commercials and diverse messages that were aired on independent TV and radio stations back in the day. I remember how, back in the late 70s, I could be listening to a top 40 radio station and they would play Led Zeppelin, then follow it with Earth, Wind, & Fire. Or I’d hear Heart followed by the Bee Gees. It was like that throughout the 80s, until radio stations became a lot more automated. Now, radio basically sucks, and television has become nationalized. It used to be you could really get a sense for an area based on what was on the local stations. Now, not so much…

I didn’t realize it when I was a kid, but southeastern Virginia in the early 80s was very Christian focused. Or maybe it just seemed that way because I always watched WYAH, which was a very religious channel. They were always airing Pentecostal stuff. I find it fascinating now, especially as I’ve gotten older and started learning about cults. On my old blog, I wrote a well received post about Calvary Temple, a church in northern Virginia that has come under fire for abusing its members. Star R. Scott, pastor of Calvary Temple, used to host a weekly television show called “Sword of the Spirit” that aired on WYAH. I remembered the theme for it. They’d advertise it between ads for “Benson” and “Brady Bunch” reruns.

This is what we had on our local channel.

Thank God for YouTube. It’s where I love to go and remind myself of what used to be. A lot of relics from my past are long gone, but on YouTube, they are still preserved. And this Star R. Scott character is a creep.

Yikes! I think I’d rather watch Charley and Humphrey.
A lot of people were hurt by this church that was so heavily promoted on WYAH.

I’m sure if I had grown up in Utah, I would be totally flooded with memories about stuff put out by the LDS church. Or if I were growing up in New York, there would be a lot of Catholic or Jewish based PSAs. I’m glad I grew up when and where I did. Virginia was an interesting place in those days.

Even my hometown had a channel for a short time. I found it mostly unwatchable.
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