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




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.













What I Learned From Lunch With Soupy Sales


What I Learned From Lunch With Soupy Sales

It wasn’t a fancy lunch at the Polo Lounge or Spago, but mostly peanut butter and jelly, lots of Jello that went boing, boing, boing or some tuna fish, but they were the best lunches I’ve ever had. The menu for the next day’s lunch was posted on the blackboard so we could entreat our mother to provide it as well.

I’ve been really fortunate in my life to meet and dine with some pretty incredible people, but I’ll take my memories with Soupy Sales, White Fang, Black Tooth, Willie da Worm, and Pookie over anything. The knowledge I gleaned from the words of wisdom written on the blackboard under the title Soupy Sez were invaluable. Such gems as; “Be true to your teeth or they’ll be false to you,” “Over the teeth and through the gums, look out stomach here it comes,” “When a man writes a song in his automobile, it’s called a cartoon,” “You show me a man who puts his parakeet in the blender and I’ll show you a man who makes shredded tweet,” “Birds are really something to crow about, but a bird in the hand can be a mess,” “Show me a woman who has misplaced her handbag and I’ll show you a tote-all loss,” “Show me a novel caught in a wind storm and I’ll show you a book gone with the wind,” or “Show me a midget king and I’ll show you a twelve-inch ruler.”

Or such informational weather reports on his ancient radio as, “there will be a volcano eruption today so for your own safety learn the words to lava come back to me.”

Add to that learning to dance The Mouse and the Soupy Shuffle and our aerobics were included with lunch.

It wasn’t just learning the skill of taking a pie to the face or being made aware how careful you need to be before opening a door unless you knew the pointed finger or arm waiting on the other side, and in later years a celebrity waiting to get a pie in the face, but the interaction between friends that taught me so much. The pranks, including one infamous time Soupy opened the door to a naked woman we never saw as he fell apart, are still part of the show’s mystique.

Of course White Fang and Black Tooth were the experts at getting one’s point across without the use of intellectual phrases or complex sentences. Just a few shakes of the paw and a couple of familiar grunts were all I needed to get the message and laugh uncontrollably. To this day an imitation of the two extremely vocal hounds can send me into fits of laughter. Perhaps I can credit them with my editing abilities. Thanks guys for jump starting my journalism career.

Of course Willie da Worm as Soupy called him, was a great life lesson as well. Prone to sneezing fits and health issues and the moniker of the sickest worm in all of Detroit, he made me wonder how many other sick worms there were in Motown. The way Soupy delivered his sympathetic offerings to the poor little ailing creature taught me true compassion. It’s one thing to offer empathy to another human being, but the idea of opening my heart to a worm, I have to confess it opened my eyes.

Or constantly telling Black Tooth, the biggest sweetest doggy in the United States, “don’t kiss” as he attempted to untangle himself from her hugs or advising her to drink lots of milk because it gives the cows something to do.

I could double up in hysterics faster at a puppet hand that made noises than at people.

Now Pookie, that was one cute little lion. Always referring to Soupy as Boobie it’s no wonder I love cats so much. And that cat could scat or put on a wig and sing like Petula Clark, okay so sing really badly. I was actually grateful something existed with a voice worse than mine.

White Fang, the biggest, meanest dog in the United States was not only mean, but oh so clever and conniving he never failed to put one over on Soupy. Guess it should have taught me to beware of cute dogs or men with bad intentions.

The guys in the studio snickered at all the puns and bad jokes and sometimes you weren’t quite sure about what. So I also learned the meaning of an inside joke.

Between the insane news reports and future guest stars like Moshe Dyan Canon and Belly Savalas, it was non-stop insanity. Yet, more than anything from watching the interaction between Soupy and the gang, we noticed how Soupy, befuddled look on his face actually listened. Maybe that’s where we learned how.

Yes, the humor was bad shtick and craziness was the order of the day, but we laughed and loved every minute. Half the humor we got, half not so much, but we heard the guys in the studio chuckling so we smiled along. The point is we had a side order of giggles with our lunch. It wasn’t politically correct and it didn’t have the artful writing of a Neil Simon, but it lightened our day and sent us back to school with a full stomach, a full heart and Soupy throwing us a big kiss.

Rustic Onion Galette

6 medium onions sliced

¼ cup of sliced leeks

1½ cups of heavy cream

1 small package (4 oz.) cream cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

½ tea thyme

Pastry large enough for a tart shell puff or regular

½ stick of butter

Olive oil

Add olive oil and butter to frying pan and heat

Add onions, leeks and seasonings and sauté on medium heat until onions are just turning brown and beginning to caramelize. Add cream cheese and cream and continue cooking until cream reduces a little and cream cheese melts through well. Taste and add seasoning if necessary. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in microwave and add 1 tablespoon of flour. Mix together and add to cream mixture until thickened.

When done place on pastry and fold sides up leaving a small opening at the top. There is no wrong way to fold a galette just as long as all the sides are folded around the filling. It’s a perfect recipe to be creative. Place it in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until pastry is cooked.

You may also use this recipe for tiny tarts for hors d’oeuvres or add mushrooms to onion sauté and extra half and half or milk and make a delicious soup. Also great with some goat cheese or Gruyere sprinkled on top when warm.