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Yesteryear’s Memories: Saturday Morning Cartoons



Just a few decades ago, Saturday morning was the time to get some cereal and plop down on the living room floor. For kids, it was like the dawn of real life after a whole week of getting up for school. Spelling tests, lining up for lunch in the cafeteria, and working on homework (or avoiding it) was over for that glorious morning ritual. The lineup of cartoons started early, like five o’clock or so, and proceeded until noon. It was “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons”; it was characters like Yogi Bear and Yosemite Sam. It was nothing but fun for a few hours as the drudgery of the week was forgotten. The list of cartoons was seemingly endless. Animals who walked and talked like humans abounded. Superheroes who flew through the air and saved the world over and over was the thread of the day. Who doesn’t remember the Acme anvils and the pianos that were dropped on the coyote as he tried to capture the Roadrunner. And even though you knew what was going to happen, it was still funny — and satisfying to see the roadrunner escape once again. Popeye always beat up Brutus and Wimpy got the hamburger. And Peabody knew the answers as Bullwinkle read his poetry.

As time went on, the cartoons slowly changed. Heckle and Jeckle gave way to Scooby Doo; Tom and Jerry faded into Smurfs and Spongebob. Still, they were cartoons and they were fun. There were silly cartoons, fun characters, superheroes, cops and robbers. There were talking dogs, yellow canaries with huge heads, and cars that talked to each other and solved mysteries. And they gathered together on Saturday mornings all across the nation. They were used to sell breakfast cereal and toys and games. It was commercial, but it was wholesome and kid oriented. But as the years progressed, there were those who claimed that there was too much violence. As far as I remember, neither I nor any of my classmates ever dropped a piano on another kid. Popeye could slug Brutus for being a bully, but I never hit any of my friends just because I ate some spinach. And I absolutely, positively never had the urge to chase a big headed canary with a butterfly net in order to cook it for dinner. I even searched the internet for any records of a roadrunner ever being charged with murder of a coyote, maybe because said coyote always got up again even after being smashed flat with a huge wooden mallet. It seems that enough indignant people complained about violence and commercialism to eventually stop the Saturday morning ritual of millions of kids. The cartoon phenomenon gradually faded into nothing. And now that those wicked cartoons have all but disappeared from the scene, kids actually do real crimes against other people — and the commercialism of selling hula hoops and talking dolls to children has been replaced with kids buying vape pens and face piercing jewelry.

I guess I just miss the days of talking magpies and flying squirrels who save damsels in distress. Lying on the floor watching a guy in a cape rescue people from a burning building just may be gone forever. And seeing little bears with hearts on their belly learning about kindness seems somehow taboo. That experience has been removed from our culture, replaced with programs that tell kids how and what to think, instead of letting them figure out for themselves if mice really do set traps for the cat. Now they get ‘training’ on subjects like changing their gender and protesting by civil disobedience. They get to explore ‘equality’ between racial groups but don’t learn how many quarts equal a gallon. They are forbidden to watch an elephant doing a ballet dance but get to choose which bathroom they want to use — girls or boys. And watching a cartoon dog chase a cartoon cat is too violent, but they have ‘active shooter’ drills in case another kid ditches his counseling session and decides to get his face on the evening news.

I guess the horrible cartoons were just too bad an influence, so they had to go. But for once I’d like to see a kid curled up on a couch, watching talking bears fill a picnic basket and sneak past the park ranger to a nice spot on the lake. And I’d much rather see him asking dad for fifty cents to send off for a decoder ring than deciding if he wanted to sneak a candy-flavored vape pen into gym class or get his eyebrow pierced with a dragon faced demon. Maybe I’m just not up-to-date, but eating a bowl of cereal on the living room floor sounds good to me. And to tell the truth, I think we need a few more superheroes.

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