howdy-doody

What Borrowing A Cup Of Sugar Can Lead To

Imagine the first day you moved into your house or new apartment, maybe that high priced condo which is now plummeting in value. The first morning brew of fresh Peruvian coffee permeates the air, beans grounded just minutes before in your brand new coffee grinder bought from the basement level of Macy’s on thirty-fourth street, sold in the kitchenware’s department. The refrigerator door yields the container of milk and while reaching for the sugar bowl the unhappy realization dawns that it is completely empty. Panic sets in until a thought crystallizes: “perhaps this is a wonderful opportunity to borrow a cup of sugar.”

Knocking on the door of the adjacent apartment, it opens and the fantasy of meeting your idealized soul mate as the words “How do you do?” resound through the air as a soft echo in mind’s eye. Those words have special meaning. They are in fact the basis that led to the creation of one of the baby boomers’ most beloved television icons: Howdy Doody.

howdy-doody.jpgA simple marionette controlled with twelve strings became a friend to millions of children. A creation of puppeteers Velma Wayne Dawson and Rufus Rose, Double Doody Howdy – one of the stand in puppets used on the show – is now a coveted part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. A pioneer in children’s programming with a western theme, it was the place we first met Clara-bell, the clown who was mute and communicated with horns and the notorious seltzer bottle. Originally played by Bob Keeshan, the beloved Captain Kangaroo, who as captain of his enterprise fostered warm relationships between grandparents and children.

Buffalo Bob Smith was the first voice of Howdy and remained his human alter ego for its entire thirteen year run (1947-60) – an amazing hallmark of television history. In fact, Photo Doody Howdy, used in photographs and parades, was sold at auction in 1997 to a private collector for $113,000.

All this and more from a fantasy encounter with a cup of sugar.

“It’s Howdy Doody time,
It’s Howdy Doody time.
Bob Smith and Howdy, too,
Say howdy doo’ to you.
Lets give a rousing cheer,
‘Cause Howdy Doody’s here.
It’s time to start the show,
So kids let’s go!”