A Substack Letters series between Mark Dykeman (How About This) and Julie Falatko (Do The Work) about childhood influences on creative work as an adult, starting with local television for kids
I’m too young for these so I’m quite curious, seeing as I have late Boomer parents and jumped over any knowledge of this time...
We also had 40! channels on cable in the ‘90s. And my parents were shockingly ahead of the curve and we ended up being among the first to get digital cable once it arrived (not because my parents thought we needed all those channels, they just wanted the sports).
This promises to be a very interesting exchange of letters, Mark and Julie. I was spawned around a decade earlier than you, and in the UK, so my childhood viewing was centred on Saturday morning cinema: dead cheap for kids, and showing films like Hercules Unchained. As far as I know we didn't have Switchback on tv, but we had a programme that sounds similarly madcap: TisWas. It was meant for kids, but I (and other uni students) were enjoying it in our 20s!
Letter #1 should have a warning. I found myself being transported back in time at a very high speed! Lovely read that will keep me smiling all day. Thank you.
I don’t think a day passes where I don’t think about Switchback, which is a loose template for an audio Zine I’ve been working on.
I vaguely remember Miss Anne as a local version of Romper Room. Miss Anne’s show was shot at CHSJ in Saint John, where our old friend John was living, and if I recall he was one of the kids on set once.
Do you remember that the CHSJ TV audio was also available on the AM radio band?
This was such fun to read, Mark! It brought me back to my childhood (I'm an older millennial) watching shows like Eureka's Castle, The Elephant Show, and 3-2-1 Contact at my babysitter's house. At home, it was Sesame Street (I must have driven my parents crazy with the endless alphabet and number songs), Lamb Chop's Play-Along, and Shining Time Station in the mornings. But being a nerd even then, some of my favorites after school were Ghostwriter, Wishbone, Square One TV and Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Wow. The things that are in our brains even when we think we've forgotten them. It does make me wonder how this has influenced my own creative output. I may have to ruminate on that in a future essay...
Can't wait to read the rest of the series!
I have so many fond memories of shows we watched as kids, especially on Saturday morning. Sky King, The Real McCoys, Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, including adult shows like Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, Maverick, Ben Casey, Texas Rangers (sponsored by 20-Mule Train Borax). Thanks for reviving some of these memories of shows that may not be PC today.
Really interesting, Mark - I'm looking forward immensely to the rest of the series!
Your term 'local' television has surprised me - as far as I can tell, local TV is only a thing round here where it comes to news bulletins, as I'm pretty sure everything else is broadcast nationally.
TV was rationed at our house - Saturday mornings we might watch an hour of something like 'Saturday Superstore', and we'd always watch 'Blue Peter' twice a week, plus 'Crackerjack' and 'Record Breakers' - those were all in the same half-hour slot on BBC1 on different days, and that would be our 30 minutes of telly before we had our tea. That was in the 80s - the only one of the programmes I listed that's still going is 'Blue Peter' - it's pretty much a national treasure, the first edition having been broadcast (live, always live!) since October 1958!
BANNED from our house was a soap opera called 'Grange Hill', which was set in a school. The programme was a 'bad influence', apparently. I remember being teased at school for not being allowed by my parents to watch it!