Saturday, December 10, 2005

False Memory

"Plunk your magic twanger Froggy!" -Andy Devine

Much of childhood is spent in absorbing reality, making sense of it, finding meaningful patterns to help us survive as organisms. When a large percentage of childhood is spend watching TV, that pseudo-reality has just as much impact as the 'real' world.

Which is why I find myself reliving episodes of "Andy's Gang" from time to time. This show was on television in the early to mid fifties. It featured Andy Devine, a gravel-voiced, scary-looking character actor from movies of the thirties and forties. It consisted of a few sketches, 'storytime' (a movie serial repackaged for the show), and a few genial homilies from Andy as he bade us farewell each week.

The regulars included a stuffed motorized cat- "Midnight" who played the violin (badly - but hey! It was only a cat. A dead cat!), "Squeaky" the mouse (who played a harmonica in a little sailor's otfit. Also dead.), and of course, "Froggy" the gremlin frog, who managed to "ruin" the show with his mischievous antics. The show also had a clip (just one) of stock footage of children laughing in a theatre.

What if I had spent that time learning to whittle? Or solving world hunger? Or any one of a number of things? Wouldn't I be a better person for it? Perhaps. But you know, that frog was pretty funny.

By Professor Batty


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