When I was a child, my favorite time of the week was Saturday morning. We kids would rise early, tiptoe down the stairs and race to throw our pillow across the arms to our dad’s worn easy chair. For the next few hours, our lives belonged to the heroes of Saturday morning TV.
Using my pillow for a saddle, I rode along with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. From them I learned that people ate apple pie and coffee for breakfast and that the good guys did indeed wear white hats. Roy was polite and upstanding, and although he occasionally threw punches or drew his gun, his freshly ironed shirt never came untucked and his crescent eyes never lost their smile. Roy was accompanied by his amazing horse Trigger and his wife Dale, who rode her faithful mare, Buttermilk. Not to be deterred by fringed skirts and perfectly coiffed hair, Dale Evans kept up with the boys without sacrificing a bit of her femininity. I never doubted for a moment that the American cowgirl could do anything that the American cowboy could do.
Out of the western blue came Sky King and his niece Penny. Penny flew a Cessna. By herself. And she was a teenager, which is, of course, what every little girl aspires to become. I wanted to wear a cowboy hat and pony tail and fly the Songbird like Penny did. From my back yard, any overhead plane became the Songbird and each time I swore that Sky and Penny dipped their wings to say hello.
Saturday morning television encouraged my sense of adventure and fed my thirst for excitement. It also introduced me to foods never allowed in my mother’s kitchen. Drakes Cakes were suspended in air while melted chocolate mysteriously dripped from the sky, covering the surface in a delectable cocoa confection. Nabisco Wheat Honeys and Rice Honeys held intricate plastic Whee Ball games- free, of course! The Cheerios Kid had “go power” and FlavR Straws were magic straws. I craved cream-filled Hostess Snowballs and Chef Boy-R-Dee, instead of the home made raisin oatmeal cookies and beef stew that graced our table. To me, nothing would be so exciting as to indulge in the sugar laden treats that were advertised on Saturday morning TV.
My mother, finally fed up with the pleas of “Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease, Mom, can you buy this?” would finally turn off the television and shoo us from the living room, telling us to “go outside and get some fresh air.”
But in the back yard, our adventures continued. Using sticks for guns, my sisters and I shot jump rope rattle snakes and lassoed tricycle cattle like Roy and Dale. We stretched our arms to become the Songbird and jumped off the top stair from the back porch to take flight. And when I was alone, I pretended that I had a bag of tricks like Felix the Cat, humming to myself,
“You’ll laugh so hard your sides will ache,
Your heart will go pitter pat
Watching Felix the wonderful cat!”
By the time my kids were old enough to discover Saturday morning TV, cowboys were replaced by Power Rangers and Felix had disappeared, leaving room for Care Bears. Like my mother, I would shoo them outside when I tired of hearing “Pleeeeeeeease, Mom, can you buy me a Power Blow Super Soaker Water Squirt Gun?” and I made beef and vegetable soup from scratch instead of serving SpaghettiOs. But when I glanced outside and watched Elizabeth use a Perfection game as a time bomb and throw herself through the air like MacGyver when the “bomb” went off, I knew the torch had been passed.
Happy Trails to you.