One of the things I love about having a kid is having an excuse to relive my own childhood. I love to find toys just like I had when I was a kid! Or to go to antique stores or flea markets and say, Evan, look at this. Do you know what this is? It’s a record player!
That last statement is a true story. Evan, oddly enough, loves flea markets and we recently headed out to the Sweet Clover Barn and reminisced. He may have even convinced me to buy him this old toy cash register. I can’t deny him his love of old things!
My nostalgia extends to other things too. Like movies and commercials and TV shows, all of which can be found on YouTube. Don’t go looking right now. Trust me, it’s a rabbit hole.
Instead of sending you down that rabbit hole, I thought I’d periodically bring you a few moments in time, mostly from the 1970s because that’s when I experienced my formative years. And together we could reminisce and figure out what ever happened to…
I’m not sure why this popped into my head but if you grew up anytime between 1953 and 1994, you probably experienced some flavor of this show. As I started researching its origins and, ultimately, its demise, the memories came flooding back.
See if any of this rings a bell for you.
Romper Room was a television show designed for preschool children but instead of running on a major network or even in syndication, it was franchised out to major media markets and produced by local television stations.
That means that I grew up with Miss Sally from WBAL-TV in Baltimore (where the show actually originated) but you might have watched Miss Jan in Pittsburgh or Miss Sharon in San Francisco (the only African-American hostess) or Miss Robin in Hawaii.
ABC did actually buy the series and syndicate it into markets that couldn’t produce their own shows. It was hosted originally by Miss Nancy and later by Miss Molly after it was retitled “Romper Room and Friends.”
So which Romper Room do you remember? And what exactly do you remember? I had to go down the rabbit hole to find out.
First, I dug up a video of Miss Sally and her good friend Do Bee.
And, um, I realized this show was created in the 1950s but who on earth thought it would be a good idea to name a character the same thing as a form of illicit drugs? Of course, none of us realized it as we were watching as kids but I bet our parents had a good laugh.
But let’s face it. We all watched the show for our favorite part. You know the part. That part at the end where Miss Sally (or Miss Whoever) held up her magic mirror (I’m sensing more drug references here) and looked at all the kids at home.
“I see Mary and Jimmy and Thomas and Leroy. There’s Nancy and Gretchen and Becky…”
And on and on she went while I waited, just hoping, that she would one day see FADRA.
As you might have guessed, I never heard my name uttered on the show. And I’m sure that many of my unusually named friends never did either (In fact, I think I remember a Facebook thread about this once).
The real devastation came years later though when my mother told me she had heard that Miss Sally never really liked children.
That can’t be true!
But as I was continuing down my rabbit hole and watching old clips, I stumbled across Miss Sally scolding some of the children right before reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Maybe my mother was right…
So what did happen to Romper Room?
It ran in the format I grew up with until 1981 when it became “Romper Room and Friends” which included several puppets added to the cast. In its newer format, it ran until 1994 after running in places like Canada, Australia, Finland, and Japan.
I guess we all outgrew it. But not before it had a lasting impression.
Although Miss Sally never said my name (it turns out you needed to mail your name in to the television station) and much of the show had escaped my memory, I learned there was something that stuck with me from the show after all these years.
On each episode, the hostess served milk and cookies and led the children in the Romper Room prayer, “God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. Amen.”
Whenever I’m asked to say grace, I know that Romper Room was my inspiration!
What would you like to read about next? What ever happened to…? Leave me a comment!