The second criteria for membership relates to age. There is no actual age qualification, but if you are currently under 50, it is extremely unlikely that you qualify. Sorry, this is for those of "a certain age" only.
Thirdly, when you were a child, did you listen to children's programs on the radio on Saturday mornings? Yes, I said radio! If so, does the phrase "Let's Pretend", bring anything to mind??
OK, anybody still with me? Do any of you fill the criteria so far? Is there anyone else out there who has figured this out?
So here it is, the final requirement to be a member of our exclusive club....Can you say, "It's Saturday and there's "Noo Schooool Todaaaay!"
[cue Theme music, "Teddy Bears Picnic"....]
It was the show Big John and Sparky! When we were living in Chicago, it aired for a short time when I has about 7. I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor facing a large console radio, listening intently, hanging on every word.
Only about 45 minutes long, it was a wonderful program. They told stories, sang songs, they looked through the Magic Mirror to see what good or not so good things the kids who listened might have done that week (as reported by parents on the sly!) and they would have a "Let's Pretend" segment where we could pretend to be firemen, or mountain climbers, or cowboys and have big adventures. It was delightful. I don't remember who (or what, for that matter) Big John and Sparky were exactly, but I loved them.
It wasn't on for very long (absolutely less than a year) and it wasn't a life changing experience. It was just kind of neat that there was this program just for kids right there on the radio! TV was just beginning to come into its own and it wouldn't be long before "Ding, Dong, School" (with Miss Francis), or "Howdy Doody" (with Buffalo Bob, Clarabelle, and Princess Summerfallwinterspring!), and then into the piece de resistance, Captain Kangaroo! (Did you know that Bob Keeshun - Capt. Kangaroo - played Clarabell on Howdy Doody??)
But I listened to the radio on Saturday mornings.
So years went by, we moved to Florida, and I would occasionally mention Big John and Sparky. I always was greeted with blank looks and "Who??" No one in Fla had ever heard of it! Well, that was surprising to me, but I figured maybe it was just a midwest thing. But if I met someone who had grown up in Chicago, I always ask if they had listened to Big J and S. NO ONE had ever heard of it. No one! I was beginning to think I had dreamed it or something, but my Mom said no, it was a real program. Whew!
I was into my mid-teens before I finally met someone who remembered listening to Big John and Sparky. My classmate, who would ultimately become my Best Friend Forever, used to listen when she lived in New Orleans at about the same age! But she hadn't ever met anyone else who listened either! It was one of the things that tied us together!
Fast forward to the year Little Sis graduated from grammar school (1972-ish). In a move that surprised me, her class took a 3-day graduation trip to Washington, D.C. (they were only 13, for heaven's sake.... there was no class trip for me till senior year in high school!) Anyway, I went along as one of the chaperones, I think there were 6 of us, 2 men and 4 women, a couple of whom were teachers. It was a fun trip....especially after the kids' lights out. The chaperones gathered in one of the grown-up's rooms, had snacks, and wine, and we talked and told dirty jokes, laughed and generally enjoyed ourselves.
Somewhere in one of those evenings, I brought up the radio show no one ever heard of, Big John and Sparky. As usual no one had....except for one of the male teacher/chaperones! Oh how exciting! Another one! He had grown up in Chicago, was about my age and he had listened, sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of his radio on Saturday morning. And yep, you guessed it, he didn't know of anyone else either!
So there you have it. Big John and Sparky's very exclusive and loyal imaginary fan club has just three members. I've been asking for years and that's all I've found! Unless one or more of you remembers the show, of course! I'd be glad to add you, there's plenty of room for more!
However, if there isn't anyone else who ever heard the show and was a fan, it will remain just be me, Flossie, and John T. No wonder the program didn't last long!!!