What We Hold in our Heads

Apologies N8 but I needed your help with this post
Apologies N8 but I needed your help with this post

The mind: who can fathom what must be in there when the stimulus of a simple kitchen utensil can send the search and retrieval software of the brain back into the vaults of untouched storage from fifty-plus years back.

Last night washing dishes, I put way the same green kitchen funnel our son is wearing in the bathtub almost thirty years ago.  I told Ann “Tell me the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the visual image FUNNEL–what is it. Quick!” It was this image from our son’s bathtime around 1980.

But what came to my mind out of deep left field and fifty years–and I had to come right away and see if the odd memory was accurate–was Tom Terrific wearing his funnel-shaped “thinking hat” that he used to become whatever he wanted. Where has this memory been all this time? And why is it taking up space that could be used for something essential to survival, for gosh sakes?

…“and Mighty Manfred, Tom’s ever-faithful companion” I found myself mouthing ahead of the character as I watched the short video. And Crabby Appleton “he’s rotten to the core.” Dear lord, what an attic-load of memories must be in there. I’m not sure I want to know.

Oh no. Guess who just joined the Ancient Useless TV Memory Vault Party? The character that was part animation and part disembodied lips who spoke the character’s words. Okay. Let’s just get this over with. All of you, come on out of your hiding places and show yourselves. Winky Dink. Kookla and Ollie. Beany and Cecil. Might was well join the rest of them on the Goose Creek morning stage. There’s no going back now.

So, who else should we invite from that era of the small, round screen, test patterns and crude animation, slap-stick and blissful multimedia naivete?

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. “Hey Kids, What time is it? Its Howdy Doody Time” What about Phineas T Bluster and voiceless Clarabell with her (his?) horn? I was a fan of Soupy Sales who may have been just a Detroit early morning legend. He had White Fang and Blacktooth, both hand puppets, and a veritable menagerie of “surprise” guests that usually put a cream pie in Soupy’s face, every morning at 7 while I was supposed to be getting ready for school.
    Why is it that I can remember all that stuff, yet forget what I went to the store for . . .

  2. Did your parents let you get one of the plastic things that could be put on the tv screen so that you could write on it on Winky Dink? Mine wouldn’t– we felt so left out! Did you want to be a Mouseketeer? Remember Annette…Spin and Marty?

  3. Oh please don’t mention Annette. It grieves me every time I think about how devastated she must be that we never met and fulfilled her adolescent fantasies. So sad for her. And yes, we drew on the screen–the first interactive video! High tech er whut?

  4. Oh my goodness! Tom Terrific and Mighty Manfred! I hadn’t thought of them for eons. Our kids loved them long ago.
    I’ve enjoyed the pics of your sweet little grands. So cute!
    We were in VA with our grands at about the same time. So fun!
    I saved your book to start reading in VA. It seemed so right to be reading it just up the road from where it was written. But reading it here in CA is even better…it sorta extends my VA time a little bit. I am really enjoying this book. Not racing through it, but savoring it. Thanks for putting it all down for us.

  5. Linda, thank you for taking time to read the book slowly. I hope you find some smiles in it–some Ahs, Ahas and HaHas, if you will. — FF