Nostalgia

Some times I go on about things I remember from my childhood and people look at me like I am growing a second head. It makes me wonder who’s the FREAK in the conversation because I clearly remember X thing which was the biggest thing in the history of things and this other person has no idea what language I am speaking. When someone not only knows what I’m talking about but can also relate to the importance of X thing then we have a connection of nostalgia. I think it’s part of what makes the world go around.

The Letter People

This is what started the whole thing. Yesterday TheMan was talking about something from his childhood and I remembered that I ran across a reference to The Letter People while cruising the web that very same day. So I asked him, “Hey, did you have the Letter People when you were growing up?” and to my surprise and delight he was all “THE LETTER PEOPLE! With Mr. T Tall Teeth!” I was tickled pink. We then went on for about five minutes with big assed silly and slightly scary teethy grins on our faces. Look! I’m Mr. T Tall Teeth! *GRINS* Then we decided that it was actually kind of frightening and thought it was amusing that the only letter either of us could remember was the GIANT TEETH character. The original Letter People can be found under the “Learning with the Letter People Link”.

I remember Mr. T Tall Teeth, of course, and then while browsing through them Mr. F Funny Feet (along with a bit of his song) squeaked into my unconsciousness as well as Mr. M Munching Mouth, Mr. H Horrible Hair, Mr. B Beautiful Buttons and one or two of the vowel ladies. I know I had to have some knowledge of the vowel ladies because I vaguely remember one or two of them being different (Ladies? Vowels? I can’t remember) but which specific ones they were are lost to me in the murk of my mind. I also don’t think we finished the alphabet because Mr. P Pointy Patches is totally alien to me. I don’t remember the TV show but I do remember the blow up guys and that they each had a song (Mr. Funny feet, funny feet, funny feet, funny feet…). We used to all gather around in a circle in Kindergarten and listen to the songs and sing along with them. We would have a letter guy in the classroom for a period of time (a week?) and do letter things associated with whatever letter guy we had. After the set time period we would get another guy and do the same thing over again but with the new guy’s letter. One time we got a chance to vote on who we wanted back for a week. I think Mr. H Horrible Hair won.

The Art Exchange?

Speaking of voting, I also remember in first, second and/or third grade we would have a lady who came around once a month with prints of famous paintings to hang in our rooms. Was this called the Art-mobile (like the bookmobile but different)? Anyway, I remember she would have seven or so pictures and tell us a little bit about each of them. Then, we would vote on what one we all liked and it would stay in the room for X amount of time. The catch was that she went to all the class rooms first and showed all the pictures before distributing them among the classes. First pick class was cool because they had a clean slate of pictures to choose from while last class was stuck with the print no one wanted. It really sucked to be last class (although who chose first did rotate, as it ought to I suppose) because you knew you didn’t get to choose anything. I seem to remember that the pictures rotated through the classrooms anyway so I don’t know why it mattered other than first class got to see the best picture first and last class had to look at the ugly one for ever (it seemed) before they could see the cool one.

Sadly, they may all have been really great art pieces but our young minds just didn’t see the genius in all of them.

Breyer Horses

I started collecting these fellas when I was about six years old and had maybe thirty of them by the time I quit collecting at eleven or twelve. My sis got into them too and our combined collection is around sixty horses give or take. It took us many years to amass the herd seeings that each horse was around $7 a pop (and some where the vastly expensive $11! It took me two months to save up for one of those horses) but we enjoyed playing with them and collecting them and creating histories for each one of them. See, they all lived together in one giant herd and each one had an individual personality. We used to play with them extensively down by the lake, in the lake (they float!), in the basement, in our rooms, wherever the “place to play with them” happened to be at the time.

My first horse was El Pastor; Famous Paso Fino and to give you an idea of what life as a boo family Breyer horse was like, Mr. Paso Fino suffered a broken front leg (a common occurrence; at least five of my crew have busted feets from accidentally playing too hard with them), a chipped ear, worn down tail and mane points as well as scratches all along his sides where they touched the ground when he fell over. He did a lot of falling over. They all did. The damage gets less noticeable the later in life they were collected and the last few of them were really just bought to round out a series. They tended to have “families” of horses like “Arabian Stallion, Mare and Foal” in different shades. I tended to get one color here and another color there as the fancy struck rather than buying a set at a time.

I can’t remember what age I was when I stopped collecting them all together and I can’t remember why I stopped other than maybe it was just time to, but after I lost interest in the horses they seemed to disappear off the face of the earth. It could be that our one outlet went under and that was that or maybe I was just not looking for them in stores anymore. Anyway, when I was in my 20s I ran across Breyer horses at Meijers (of all places) and I thought “Hey! Cool! Childhood Toys!” and skipped over in delight to check them out.

I picked up a red colored horse that looked suspiciously like my El Pastor; Famous Paso Fino and discovered that it was now just generic “Paso Fino” pony. El Pastor is your standard brown and black horse and although I had never heard of him, I assumed he was a horse who was a notable someone in the horse world. Imagine my surprise at finding the “El Pastor” mold reused for “generic pony”. That’s not right! I mean, that’s El Pastor! (whoever he was), not generic pony dude. You might as well take Man o’ War, paint him black and call it “Kentucky Thoroughbred” (or for you non horse people, take your collectible bust of George Dubya, repaint it and call it Texan). Specific horses ought to have specific molds, or at least I think so. Hrrrmph, capitalism.

The other shock was the price tag: $45. Who the hell is collecting these things anymore at $45 a pop? Kids? Where are they getting $45 to drop on stupid plastic horses? And are they playing with them like I did or are they just buying them and sticking them on a shelf because $45!! You don’t take a $45 toy out to the beach and muck around with it, it might (re: will) get damaged! That’s $45! That’s a 460% mark-up in 25 years or 18% per year. That’s insane. These aren’t toys anymore, they are stupid bits of overpriced plastic that sit on shelves and get dusty all in the name of collecting.

Very Toy Story II.

Double Hrrrmph Capitalism.

Simon and the Chalk People

I loved this show! I can still sing the theme song. Scarily enough I can’t remember a single episode of the show but I was fascinated by the chalk drawings. Oh wait, I remember Simon and the Measles (I looked through the episode guides). Maybe it’s the elephant. I think this is what inspired me to do a stop animation film project in chalk board media for one of my film classes. Heh, Grundy, Chalk Hero of the 90’s. Do you know how hard it is to do frame by frame chalk drawings?

Sesame Street Aliens

Sorry, no picture of these two large mouthed blue guys could I find on the web but maybe these few catch phrases will ring a bell:

“Brrrrrr-rrrr-rrrr-rrrr-rrrr-ING”

“Hello? Hello! Hello? Hello!”

“Mmmmm nope. Nope. Nope….Nope….Nope..Nope..NopeNopeNopeNope”

[insert telephone F/X] [aliens pull their mouths completely over their entire heads and hide]

“Ommmmmmmmmmmmm”

Man I loved those guys. The aliens and the telephone was the best sketch. Did they have any others? I can’t remember if they did or not but it seems to me that they might have.

Quark

I remember watching this show with my dad back in ’78. I’d be all excited on Quark days because not only did I get to watch a big people’s show with my dad (mumses was never much into the sci-fi scene) but this show was funny unlike Space 1999. I don’t think I was old enough to ‘get’ Space 1999 at the time although I enjoyed any opportunity to stay up and watch grown-up TV. With Quark I could stay up and watch grown-up TV plus it was funny! I mean, Garbage Guys in space, what could be better than that? As an added bonus, my dad thought it was funny in the ‘it’s really funny’ way and not in the ‘humor the little kid funny’ way so when something was funny for both of us (and there was a lot of funny in that show) I felt all grown up like. Looking back, maybe it was more that my dad appreciated juvenile humor so perhaps I wasn’t as sophisticated as I thought I might be but at the time I was all proud and preening that *I* got to watch a grown up program and I understood it.

Unfortunately it was yanked after 9 episodes. Apparently nine episodes was enough to stick indelibly in my brain yet not enough that anyone else in the world knows what in blazes I am talking about (which then starts the looking at that second head I occasionally grow when I mention the show). Anyone save TheMan. He is the first person I ever ran into who not only knew what I was talking about but loved the show too. Yay! I’m not a freak!

One Response to “Nostalgia”

  1. stephen Says:

    ah yes, i remember those beloved letter people, too. it is a real shame that the new letter people stink. my old grade school still has the original letter people, though.
    i just had a conversation with a bunch of people today discussing the letter people, and we all miss them.