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The Death of a Saturday Morning Institution

When did Saturday morning cartoons die?

When I was a kid, I rose early every Saturday morning to watch cartoons. I started my mornings with Scooby Doo, a cartoon with a huge amount of staying power. I then spent the rest of the morning as an unmovable fixture in the den.

 

Amazing-chan_clan - comicsworthreading.com

 

One of my favorite cartoons was The Amazing Chan and Chan Clan, where Charlie Chan and his family solved mysteries. They had this really cool van that could change into anything.

 

 

 

Funky-Phantom-Cartoons - bilinick.blogspot.com

 

Another favorite was The Funky Phantom. This cartoon featured a Revolutionary War ghost named Mudsy. (Yes, my fascination with both Asian cultures and history began early.)

 

 

 

 

CosbyKids - blackcartoonstars.blogspot.com

 

I also loved Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, which began my love of any comedy involving Bill Cosby. (Yes, I can repeat, word-for-word, some of his older routines.)

 

 

 

 

The thing I remember most, though, was that it was like “my day” for TV. My parents didn’t care to watch. Eventually, I would go outside, but I loved cartoons.

Now, though, Saturday and cartoons have seen a divorce. You can get 24-hour cartoon channels on cable. My teenager used to watch them but has moved on. My preteen still follows them. As I sat home last Saturday morning, watching the news, I wondered if the lack of cartoons might have ruined Saturday morning. So, I posted that thought on some infamous social media website.

It wasn’t long before a half-my-age cousin of mine named Vivian brought up a counter point. Did my parents have cartoons?

I looked it up, discovering that Saturday morning cartoons were an invention of the 60s. My parents hadn’t had them growing up. Vivian’s point was to wonder if my parents thought Saturday morning cartoons had ruined Saturday morning when I was growing up.

I wondered if it might be a change of entertainment mediums. Parents in the past were free to kick the kids out of the house on a beautiful Saturday morning. (These days, parents seem to get arrested for doing it.) My maternal grandparents used to send my mother and my aunt to Saturday afternoon matinees at the local cinema. Still, kids got out of the house. Cartoons were different in that kids stayed home on Saturdays.

What do you think?

Did Saturday morning cartoons ruin Saturday mornings? Or did removing them ruin Saturday mornings? And were the things you enjoyed as a child also things your parent enjoyed? Also, what was your favorite cartoon, when you were a kid?

Vivian

 

Special thanks to my cousin, Vivian Lipscomb, for providing the inspiration for this post. People can debate whether she is my first-, second-, third-, or some variation with “removed” in it. I’ll just say we both have four great-grandmothers. However, unlike most southern families, we only share one of them.

 

 

New Casual_Resized

 

Walt Mussell primaily writes historical fiction with inspirational and romantic elements. His favorite setting is medieval Japan and he refers to his writing as “Like ‘Shogun,’ but the heroine survives.” He also writes Biblical fiction and is working on a manuscript with a 19th century American setting. He has one published novella in the Christmas anthology, Hot Cocoa for the Heart.

 

 

Amazing Chan picture from www.comicsworthreading.com. Funky Phantom picture from www.bilinick.blogspot.com. Fat Albert picture from www.blackcartoonstars.blogspot.com. Vivian’s picture courtesy of Vivian.

 

Piper - August 14, 2014 - 8:01 am

Hey Walt!

I like those two cartoons as well. And everyone had a band in the cartoons–The Chan Clan did! And one of them was Jodie Foster–how funny is that?

I liked Hong Kong Phooey and of course Fat Albert as well. Bill Cosby was a must in our house in any way he appeared on the television.

I must admit, I was not a Scooby Doo fan, but my son likes it. This just proves that your children have different tastes than you do…thanks for the retro look back!

Walt Mussell - August 14, 2014 - 9:09 am

Piper,

“Hong Kong Phooey, #1 super guy. Hong Kong Phooey, quicker than the human eye.” Yes, I remember it well. I also remember his faithful cat Spot and that the character was voiced by Scatman Crothers, an amazing talent.

Did not know that Jodie Foster was one of the voices for the Chan Clan.

Melissa - August 14, 2014 - 9:28 am

Garfield was my favorite, but even back then I was not a morning person so I often chose to sleep in, and whether I did or not was usually determined by how much I wanted to watch Garfield……..most of the time sleep won out, I would have loved DVR (I don’t have tv that’s the recording thing, right?)

Sandy Elzie - August 14, 2014 - 9:30 am

Oh my…my age is going to show here. I watched Road Runner, Yogi Bear and BooBoo (and their infamous Pic-a-nic baskets). I also watched Rin Tin Tin, The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Sky King, Lassie, and if you want to go W-A-Y back to before my family even had a TV and all the kids in the neighborhood went to one house that actually had one, I watched Howdy Dooty Time. There was a “magic” film you could put on your TV screen and it made it different colors and kind of a 3-D type thing. (I was like 3 or 4 at Howdy Dooty Time)

I don’t think it ruined Saturdays since most of the shows at that time had life lessons and no one was killed. Then we had lunch and went outside. The afternoon shows included wrestling which my mother wouldn’t let my brother watch since he’d try some of that junk on me. (Thanks, Mom)

Katherine Bayliff - August 14, 2014 - 9:34 am

Great memories!

Walt Mussell - August 14, 2014 - 9:34 am

Melissa, thanks for dropping by. I do have TV, but I don’t have DVR. Yes, it’s the recording thing. Garfield was hilarious. Hard to eat lasagna sometimes without thinking of Garfield.

Walt Mussell - August 14, 2014 - 9:39 am

Sandy, the only time I’ve ever seen a reference to that “magic film” was on a Happy Days episode. The Cunninghams had to sit behind each other in order for it to work.

Don’t think you’re dating yourself. I loved Yogi and BooBoo. Another Hanna-Barbera favorite of mine is Huckleberry Hound.

Walt Mussell - August 14, 2014 - 9:41 am

Mom (aka Katherine Bayliff), I agree. They were great memories! Thanks for dropping in.

Marilyn Baron - August 14, 2014 - 10:28 am

I watched the same shows that Sandy did. I also remember Mighty Mouse. So yes, we watched cartoons on Saturday morning. I also remember my mother telling us to go out and play in the sun. And I remember Saturday mornings where we would go to the movies all morning for popcorn, movies, cartoons, etc. for something like a dime. That was fun.

DT Krippene - August 14, 2014 - 10:37 am

I’m old enough to remember Warner Bros. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Roadrunner, and Rhode Island Red. Hanna Barbera characters were popular, but could never warm up to them. As you can imagine, it was a time (as one of seven kids) when we’d routinely get kicked out of the house and told not to show up until meal times. Great post, Walt; thanks for the memories.

Tina Radcliffe - August 14, 2014 - 11:22 am

Saturday morning cartoons over a bowl of cereal followed by the great outdoors. Going for miles and miles in suburbia on my bicycle and coming home tired and happy for dinner.

Those actually were the days.

Walt Mussell - August 14, 2014 - 1:25 pm

Marilyn, every time I think of Mighty Mouse, the first thing that comes to mind is Andy Kaufman. I realize that’s a Saturday Night Live reference, but it was funny. I think my mother did end up telling me to eventually go outside and play.

Walt Mussell - August 14, 2014 - 1:32 pm

Dan, after I wrote this, I was reminded of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoon scene. Bugs was a chorus actor given his big break and he bombed, so he’s sitting on a park bench near several other “out-of-work actors.” Vaudeville star Elmer Fudd walks into the park, supposedly looking for a new partner. Three cartoon actors (Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, and Bing Crosby) jump up and begin “auditioning.” Fudd blows them off, walks up to Bugs Bunny and says, “What are you hanging out with these bums for? They’ll never amount to anything.”

Walt Mussell - August 14, 2014 - 1:34 pm

Tina, though the cartoons have been replaced by news channels for me, I still think of cereal (kid-type cereal) as comfort food.

Connie Gillam - August 14, 2014 - 1:36 pm

I must be the odd one here. I didn’t watch cartoons. My brothers did. While they were occupied with Road runner, Bugs Bunny and Mighty Mouse, I could read in peace.

Walt Mussell - August 14, 2014 - 1:38 pm

My memory from childhood was off. It was “guys,” not “bums.” I also forgot that there were four actors (Jack Benny). See below. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfzY4ZuwQxk

Walt Mussell - August 14, 2014 - 1:57 pm

Connie, absolutely nothing wrong with reading. It was a favorite pastime of mine when I was kid, too.

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - August 15, 2014 - 2:42 pm

I didn’t have a TV until I was…11, if I remember correctly. So I remember some cartoons like Scooby Doo and Fat Albert, but didn’t watch much. I lived in Texas, so if you watched cartoons in the early mornings, you were losing prime playing time outside. Later in the day it was too hot.

As for ruining or not ruining Saturday mornings, I’m sure every generation thinks their way was best.

Walt Mussell - August 15, 2014 - 3:23 pm

Carol,

Didn’t think of it that way. However, it does make sense that you would need to play early before it got too hot. I use the same logic for mowing my lawn. Granted, for the moment, I send my teenager outside to mow.

Mxine Davis - August 15, 2014 - 3:43 pm

Walt, No, I didn’t grow up with cartoons. The Howdy Dowdy Show was on in the afternoons or Saturday with Buffalo Bob and Princess Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring. The TV had that cross thing with circles indicating there was no show on. And there were three channels. Didn’t have a TV until my grandaddy came to stay and wanted to see A. Stephenson and D. Eisenhower running for president. I was in 1st grade. Whew, that dated me!

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