From Clarabell to COVID-19. Have Baby Boomers Come Full Circle?

spaghettipie

 

 

From Clarabell to COVID-19.

Have Baby Boomers Come Full Circle?

As a child, Wednesday was my favorite day. Why? Well as any Baby Boomer knows that was “Anything Could Happen Day.”

This piece of information means little to anyone under seventy of course, but to my generation not privy to the wonders of Alexa and Instagram, “Anything Can Happen Day” meant mystery, excitement and something unique was about to enter our unsophisticated worlds.

For those of you who don’t remember and I’m sure you’re few, “Anything Can Happen Day” was the weekday on the Mickey Mouse Club when we could be surprised by a guest, adventure or anything out of the ordinary.

The other days we pretty much knew what to expect. Monday was “Fun With Music” Tuesday was the guest star, Thursday was “Circus” and Friday was “Talent Round Up.” We were also treated to serials like Spin and Marty, Corky and White Shadow, Annette, The Hardy Boys, all shows we anticipated and watched faithfully? Okay, why?

Was it merely because we secretly longed to be Mouseketeers or Meesketeers like Cubby and Karen? Were the Mooseketeers, Roy and Jimmy with his “mouseguitar” so appealing? Beats me, but I’d love to hear some thoughts and opinions about why we were so dedicated to those mouse ears.

As you probably guessed I have some theories or I wouldn’t have brought this up in the first place.

I think it was partly the thrill of belonging to something that was not only featured on that great new innovation that possessed us called television, but also that these kids were our age.

Our worlds back in the fifties were very small and protected. Most families had one car and we walked to school. Our friends were in our own neighborhoods and within walking distance, which is why we socialized with kids on our block.

Suddenly there was this new great invention that took us to worlds far away with people outside our sphere.

We became interested in their lives and adventures and felt a part of some strange new unique planet we could reach by simply turning a knob.

The Mickey Mouse ears were a symbol of something beyond ourselves and outside our comfort zones that made us feel energized and curious.

We were joiners back then, Soupy Sales had his Birdbath Club with its membership card and we could also buy and wear our own mouse ears.

We were cub, brownies, girl and boy scouts and this belonging seemed to come natural to us.

The delight in the assurance the world was far larger than our small corner made us hunger for more.

After we outgrew the Mouse, and I’m not certain we ever really did because Disney has remained a big part of all our lives, it was all about American Bandstand.

We rushed home from school to watch ABC’s daily dose of teen addiction as all the regulars danced their way through the show. There was a guest singing and chatting with Dick Clark or as I refer to him, the Dorian Gray of our generation. That man never aged and although he was a nice man I’m sure he had a picture in the attic somewhere that was growing old while he stayed young.

Just like the Mickey Mouse years we reveled in the feeling of being a part of the Bandstand phenomenon and bought magazines to keep up with the lives of regulars like Pat Molittieri, Justine Carrelli, Bob Clayton, Arlene Sullivan, Kenny Rossi and Carole Scaldeferri.

Wow! I’m freaking out right now that I remembered those names without having to look them up. Please don’t ask me what I had for lunch yesterday but fifty years ago, no problem. Actually the sixties are much clearer to me now than when I lived them.

But I digress.

What does it say about our generation that we were so willing to leap on the bandwagon and embrace Howdy Doody, Soupy, Micky and Bandstand?

Can we judge it as negative or was it truly one of the most positive things we ever encountered?

Okay, I’m going with positive here and not just because all my readers know how I feel about Black Tooth and White Fang.

Those early shows actually shaped our characters more than we knew and the lessons were subliminally woven through the fabric of our lives.

First, we became eager participants in society. Our experiences with these shows or the clubs they offered were positive reinforcement for the importance of being a part of something greater that existed outside oneself.

Second, it provided a better sense of the vastness of the universe. Our worlds were small and contained, but we were suddenly able to travel to distant lands and observe places that offered us new adventures in addition to reading. Sure, we had the cardboard spaceship of Flash Gordon, but no one was buying that whole flying-through-space-on-that-primitive- paper-cutout were they?

Third, it taught us that knowledge could be obtained anywhere. Outside of the schoolroom we continued to learn and grow as individuals.

And perhaps one of the most hidden and obscure subliminal messages came from Clarabell, Howdy’s favorite clown. No, I haven’t lost what’s left of my mind. Although he could only honk his horn to converse we realized that speech isn’t the only path to understanding and communication, and often we need to listen with our ears, instincts and at times our hearts.

We also discovered that “Anything Can Happen Day” is not only a metaphor for life because each day is unknown, but something we should embrace and if we’re open to the unexpected many amazing journeys await us.

There was nothing overt about these lessons and they seeped into our souls without our awareness they’d found a home. Yet they colored our lives, helped create the people we became and still today remain part of whom we are.

So by now you’re wondering how COVID-19 enters into this discussion. Well sadly it seems to have brought us full circle.

All the lessons of our childhoods that propelled us out into the world to travel, socialize and absorb are now stifled by this horrible invader that has us locked down. Once again we are watchers in front of the television and sadly at a time when most of us are free and able to move about in the world.

Okay, so it’s a flat screen nowadays and a great deal larger than the twelve-inch RCA black and white, but we’ve returned to living vicariously once again.

We must be content with travelogues instead of that trip to Tuscany we planned. We watch that chef prepare his special lobster bisque instead of visiting his restaurant in New York to taste it first hand.

We watch the Disney channel to keep up with our grandchildren’s favorite new shows, talk about coming full circle that damn mouse never left.

Sure, we’re back in front of the television again and of course there are far more options than the couple of channels we had as kids, but we’re prohibited from socializing, traveling or seeking those adventures we were programmed to undertake and embrace.

So life has changed and I know I’m not the only one anxious to get back out and live.

So please Clarabell, honk your horn for a cure for COVID so we can hear, see, love, live and engage without the need for Netflix.

Spaghetti Pie

1 generous serving of spaghetti cooked

2 eggs

1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup of spaghetti sauce

6 Meatballs broken up

1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese

1-8 ounce package of cream cheese

1 tablespoon of chives dried or fresh

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Salt and pepper

Place your cooked spaghetti in a bowl and add Parmesan cheese and 2 eggs and mix together well. Spray a 10-inch pie pan and place spaghetti inside pushing it up the sides to form a piecrust.

Place in a 350 degree oven and cook for 10 minutes until partially set. Set aside

Mix together your cream cheese and chives.

Scatter meatballs in a layer over spaghetti crust. Cover with a layer of sauce. Dollop the cream cheese on top and sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top.

Roll out piecrust to fit over top of pie pan with enough to tuck edge of crust under rim.

Cut in pie slices and serve hot. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Get Off Howdy Doody’s Back

applesveal

Just Get Off Howdy Doody’s Back

I never dreamed I’d have to defend Howdy, but I find it beyond endurance to tolerate the smears and snarky comments leveled in the direction of my beloved friend Howdy Doody. Sure it’s easy to just cast aside these slights as ignorance, but that’s how these things get out of hand. So just “say kids, what time is it? It’s Howdy Doody time” and stand up to take a side.

It’s not just Howdy who has been so maligned but all puppets everywhere, and it must end right here and now for us citizens of Doodyville who’d have gladly given up our collections of Archie annuals for a chance to sit in the Peanut Gallery.

I’m not certain when the slight on puppets actually began, but gradually without noticing the word has taken on a negative connotation. It’s an insult to call anyone a puppet and infers someone without a mind or will of their own, dependent on a puppet master to pull the strings and do their thinking and talking for them.

Well, I never! Can you imagine that we are seeing this shift against our beloved puppet friends?

What did Farfel the Dog ever do to anyone besides tell us that Nestle’s makes the very best chocolate? And he wasn’t wrong. I can’t think of anyone I know who’d throw a Nestle’s Crunch Bar out of bed.

Puppet, yes, mindless, I think not.

Shall we even begin to think less of Lamb Chop because she enjoyed such a dependent relationship with Shari Lewis and was such a girly lamb? Don’t even get me started on Rootie Kazootie.

Puppets were a big part of our childhood and brought us enormous enjoyment. Okay, so I could see Howdy’s strings sometimes, but his show brought us hours of great fun characters to enjoy like Buffalo Bob, Princess Summerfall Winterspring, Clarabell or Mr. Bluster, also a puppet.

Would anyone like to say anything negative about Topo Gigio, Eddie Eddie Sullivan’s favorite Italian mouse? I dare you.

Shall we malign Kukla, Fran and Ollie or The Swedish Chef? In case you didn’t know, there was no script for the Kuklapolitans and they ad-libbed on every show. I’d like to see any of today’s human stars open their mouths and sound smart without a writer to tell them what to say. Charlie McCarthy dressed better and was smarter than a great many people tweeting today.

Lest we forget a certain puppet named Senor Wences and his puppet Johnny (actually his hand) that taught us that everything was “all right” and was one of our favorite parts of The Ed Sullivan Show.

Mr. Rogers used puppets, which he created and worked because of a low budget, to teach children about kindness and how to be good people.

Puppets have been entertainers and teachers for centuries, even Punch and Judy, which I guess wouldn’t be considered politically correct today.

No discussion of puppets would ever be complete without the Muppets. Of course Jim Henson’s crew were more my children’s generation, but we watched them as a family and adults got the “inside” jokes. The characters were brilliantly drawn and fleshed out so well they took on a truly human quality.

Miss Piggy taught girls not to underestimate their own strength and abilities, and never take a backseat to anyone.

Kermit was the ringmaster of the circus and as lovable a frog as there ever could be, although let’s face it, it isn’t easy being green.

Now people bandy about the phrase “he’s or she’s a puppet” as some type of universal insult implying a lack of intelligence, will or character.

So by now you’re probably thinking, “What’s your point, Norma?”

I think something needs to be done to protect the good names of our string-attached or hand-dependent friends.

A union would be a perfect solution. The Puppet Union of America or as it would say on our jackets, the PU of A. Being from Detroit, a big union town, my mind just went there immediately. I’m nominating Triumph the Insult Comic Dog as the president and Statler and Waldorf as the Board of Directors. The PU of A would file grievances against those who took the name of Howdy or Cookie Monster in vain and negotiate contracts, collective bargain, plus stage walkouts. Well, I guess walkouts would be a bit tricky but you get the point.

They need to be protected against the slanderous insults of those who have forgotten their glorious past, present and future.

How much less fun the world would be without the Kermies, Mr. Blusters or Kuklas. Without the Topo Gigios how would we ever know how adorable an Italian mouse could be or how strong and tough a woman could be without Piggy?

If the world wants to infer a lack of intelligence, will and character on anyone I suggest they use the word politician. Now that makes much more sense to me. Has a politician ever opened their mouth and said anything smart? Think about it.

And if you don’t believe a puppet can influence the entire world—ever hear of a Jedi Master named Yoda?

Apple Veal Chops in Cream Sauce

6 veal chop tenderloins or chops with bone in can also be used, but cooking time will increase.

2 apples (your choice) peeled, cored and sliced

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper

1 ½ cups panko crumbs

1 ½ cups dried apple chips ground up well

1 tbsp butter

1 tablespoon of oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Season veal with salt and pepper and set aside

Put apple chips in the food processor and ground up well, but not too fine. Combine with panko crumbs.

Melt butter and oil in frying pan and dip veal into flour and pat off excess. Dip chops into beaten egg then into panko/apple mixture.

Add to frying pan and sear until golden brown. Remove from pan and place in oven at 350 degrees until internal temperature of 145 degrees is reached.

Add apples and cider to frying pan and sauté apples until fork tender and then add cream. Heat over low heat until cream reduces by one third. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Add veal back into frying pan and cover with cream sauce and heat through two more minutes until all is combined and warm. Let dish rest for three minutes before serving.

Serve over any pasta, rice or with a mashed potato. Pork may be substituted for veal in this recipe as well.