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'Romper Room' post card leaves Timmy in a funk

July 25, 2011

Downsizing one’s cache of personal effects can be oddly satisfying. It’s a little prune juice for the soul, as you come to grips with the fact that there were many aspects of your life that, frankly, just didn’t matter.

Like that time I was standing beside a piece of driftwood in Oregon? Someone thought enough of this incident to document it photographically, but there is nothing in it to care about now and certainly nothing anyone will care about 100 years down the road.

I was off-loading a lot of these old photos and documents over the weekend — although Beth was retrieving photos of me as an infant getting a bath in the sink about as fast as I could chuck them in the trash.

But there was one document, a post card, that caused considerable pain and obviously should have been thrown out long ago.

The post card originated from the television studios of an old child’s program called “Romper Room.”

The name was something of a misnomer, as the show stressed polite, well-mannered behavior and discouraged romping in most forms.

It was hosted by a helmet-haired woman who went by the name of Miss Sally, although I was later crushed to discover that there were about a million Miss So-and So’s across the nation, including the unfortunate Miss Sherri in Arizona, who disappeared from the show to dash off to Sweden for an abortion.

The show’s mascot was a giant insect that went by the name of Do-Bee (I later found this name to be hilarious for reasons unrelated to children’s programming) whose basic message was to be good.

At the end of each show, Miss Sally peered into her “Magic Mirror” and called out the names of all her friends watching in TV land. In a trance-like drawl, she would say: “I see Billy and Patti and Johnny and ...”

But never any Timmy.

One’s chances of being seen in Miss Sally’s Magic Mirror were said to increase exponentially if you sent her a picture with your name on it.

I did that, and I received the post card noted above in the mail. It read: “Dear (space for a name, filled in — in a different-colored ink and different handwriting — with “Timmy”). Thank you very much for the pretty picture you sent me. I am glad you are one of my good Do-Bee friends who plays with me each day in Romper Room School. I will look for you in my Magic Mirror.

Your friend, (“Miss Sally,” again filled into a space in mismatching ink and handwriting).”

The post card was addressed to me in the same scratchy, semi-legible handwriting as the names, which indicated that Miss Sally and/or her Do-Bee helper had been hitting the Scotch pretty hard when they fleshed out the form letter.

It would all have been of little consequence to me if Miss Sally had just read my stinkin’ name over the air with her stinkin’ Magic Mirror.

But the lady couldn’t even get that done. This was in I guess 1964, and Timmy shouldn’t have been all that uncommon a name. But she’s been through Terry and Tommy, Jimmy and Tammy, Shadrach and Meshach, and was working on Abednego, with no Timmy, ever.

I am a loyal person, and it takes a lot to turn me, but after a couple of weeks of fruitless waiting, Miss Sally was dead to me, and I forevermore became a Captain Kangaroo man.

And today the post card goes into the trash.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant on www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable’s WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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