Those old TV shows

On May 12, 2012, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

On The Silly Side by Jimmy Del Ponte

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)

“Stop spinning that dial!” Remember when you had to actually get up and walk over to the TV to change the channel? I remember my little brother sitting in front of the new TV at 5 a.m. waiting for the programs to begin. Santa brought the family our first color TV and all that was on that early were test patterns. The TV came from Lechmere Sales in Cambridge and it replaced our big, old black and white Admiral television set.

When we were young kids, everything was in black and white. Westerns, crime dramas, sit-coms, news and even cartoons were black and white. When color came along it was like Dorothy first entering Oz. Everything was beautiful. But we were still glued to the TV when it was all black and white. All three channels!

The first shows I remember watching when I was a kid was Captain Kangaroo. Bunny Rabbit, Dancing Bear, Mister Moose and Mr. Green Jeans entertained us starting in 1955. We never thought that it was funny that Mr. Green Jeans was actually Mr. Grey Jeans. The Flintstones came along in 1960 and I have a Winston cigarette commercial in a DVD collection. It shows Fred and Barney smoking Winstons and talking about the flavor, richness, etc. Cartoon characters who now endorse kid’s cereal were hawking butts. We’ve come a long way, baby!

Superman with George Reeve debuted in 1952 and was filmed in black and white until 1954. If you look closely to the flying scenes, you can see a flat section on Superman’s stomach area from where he was lying on a platform. It was like a new world when we finally got to see the color versions that they didn’t show on TV until 1965. The color episodes blew the black and white ones away but black and white was fine with us.

Here they come! Some of our favorite black and white shows were The Dick Van Dyke Show, Dark Shadows, Dragnet, Twilight Zone, The Munsters, Mr. Ed, I Love Lucy, Dragnet, The Untouchables, The Three Stooges, Abbott and Costello, My Favorite Martian, Gunsmoke, Lost In Space, The Twilight Zone, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, I Dream Of Jeannie, The Andy Griffith Show, Car 54 Where Are You?, Sgt. Bilko, The Lone Ranger, Sky King, Sea Hunt, The Addams Family, The Honeymooners, Cisco Kid, Zorro, Lassie, RinTinTin, My Friend Flicka, Rawhide, Combat, The Rifleman, Leave it to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet, Burns and Allen, Huntley and Brinkley, The Wild Wild West, Burke’s Law, Hogan’s Heroes, Peter Gunn (great theme song!), The Fugitive, Perry Mason (although the theme song was creepy), Dr. Kildare and Ben Casey, Peyton Place, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Mr. Rogers, My Three Sons, all cartoons, Patty Duke, The Ed Sullivan Show, Secret Agent (cool theme song!), Dobie Gillis, Gilligan’s Island, Bonanza, Father Knows Best, Make Room For Daddy, Mission Impossible, The Outer Limits, Laurel And Hardy, all the old soap operas that our moms watched religiously, and The Little Rascals. We also watched a lot of game shows and quiz shows like What’s My Line, and Password.

In Boston we had our locally produced shows like Major Mudd, Romper Room, Big Brother, Bob Emery (which my sister and I were on), and of course Rex Trailer’s Boomtown.

We now have hundreds of channels to choose from in all sorts of cable packages. I remember when Channel 56 and 38 came along. It was a pain trying to tune in those stations but they offered us two more channels. We had 2, 4, 5, 7 and now 38 and 56! UHF and VHF. I never knew which was which. Man, we were really living it up! Oh, by the way, you can see a lot of great locally produced shows on our own Somerville cable channels.

Sadly, I just glanced over to the MSN homepage and saw that George Lindsay, who played Gomer Pyle’s cousin Goober on The Andy Griffith Show, passed away at the age of 76. Remember his bad imitation of Cary Grant? “Judy, Judy, Judy.” Rest in peace cousin Goober.
We can still see some of our favorite shows on cable. With Mother’s Day on Sunday, I will leave you with two shows that featured moms. Who can forget The Donna Reed Show, and who can remember My Mother The Car?

Reaching For the Stars singing competition will start auditioning Thursday night at The Armory on Highland Ave. Auditions will continue May 17, 24, and 31. $500 top cash plus recording studio time, and other great runner up prizes. A $30 one-time audition fee will be charged.

Auditions start at 6:30 p.m. Prepare a (no longer than) 90 second a cappella song and good luck. More info at


6 Responses to “Those old TV shows”

  1. A Moore says:

    We got to see the Bob Emery show every day when we came home for lunch from the Bingham school. Funny, I recently watched some old Mr Peepers, Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers and some of the others you have mentioned and afterwards I wonder how I could ever have liked them. They seemed so great back then. We had the get the add on UHF gizmo the Willie Whistle. It seems to me when we got our first tv Disney just started on tv as I recall. Somwhere about 1952 to 54.

  2. j, connelly says:

    Ah Big Brother Bob Emery, I was on his show. A guy from WBZ showed up at Powderhouse Park, asked us to get our mom or dad & bring them right back so he could get permission. Then he put us in Revolutionary costumes & filmed us walking down the hill from the Powderhouse toward Mallet St…The 3 patriots carrying the flag, playing the fife and a drummer. They used it for the opening to Bob Emery’s History segements.

    I worked at Lechmere with Pop Cohen and the sons Maurice, Norman & Phil. Treated the employees well, cost discount (got my mom a frig/freezer at cost) Profit Sharing Plan, sick time etc. When I got on the fire department they asked me to stay on part-time. great people.Hank, Eddie, Big Al, Helen & Pat. (Pat’s son Jimmy went on the Somerville Fire Dept. Lechmere was great until Dayton Hudson bought into it as the Cohens wanted to create more stores. Dayton Hudson cut all the benefits, then wondered why the employees wanted to join a union.
    Bumped into Maurice years later…he told me if they knew Dayton Hudson was going to do what they did, he would have never brought them into the operation.

    Dobie Gillis, Maynard G. Krebbs, The Old Endicott Bldg. They were fun to watch and back then the whole family watched t.v together, not like that anymore. Someways the Information Super Highway is Good, in other ways it stinks. Remember when cable tv came out touting “No Commercials”….. yeh right…now every commercial break on cable gets longer & longer. Seems like everything in this country comes under P.T. Barnums quote. Whether it be the media, the politicians, whatever…

  3. A Moore says:

    That was because tv used to be entertaining. Most anything on now is not worth watching. Most of what I watch myself is in black and white. Many of the old shows you could watch over and over, the new ones it’s hard to get through them once. My mother also worked at Lechmere sales. My last TV is from there. Thing won’t die and not going to get another until it goes.

  4. JAR says:

    ‘Drawing from Nature’ with Cap’n Bob!

  5. jaberwocky says:

    Jaberwocky was one of my favorites and it was locally produced!

  6. Steve Keenan says:

    I remember watching Surfside 6, 77 Sunset Strip(with Ed “Kookie” Byrnes,
    Pinky Lee, The Detectives(with Robert Taylor), M Squad(with Lee Marvin), Amos and Andy, Maverick, Fury, The Defenders, Captain Midnight, and other great shows. Those were the days.

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