It may be hard to believe, but there was once a time when you couldn’t watch any TV show pretty much anytime you want. There were no videocassettes, no DVDs, no YouTube, no Hulu. After a program ended, that was it, at least until it was rerun in the spring. You could argue that the networks thus forced us to watch things on their schedule, or you could argue that television’s temporal nature made it more special. Never did television take better advantage of this than at the holidays. Those of us beyond a certain age remember how big of an event it was when CBS aired A Charlie Brown Christmas each year! Now, you can watch it anytime. It doesn’t make the show any less special, but audiences today lack the anticipation of it.
Anyone who grew up in range of Chicago television probably remembers watching three animated shorts every year at Christmastime: Hardrock, Coco, and Joe – The Three Little Dwarfs; Suzy Snowflake; and Frosty the Snowman. They were part of Frazier Thomas’s Garfield Goose and Friends, a daily kid’s show. The show, and this tradition, began on WBKB (which became WBBM) but soon moved to WGN, where they aired every holiday through the 1980s. Talk to someone who grew up in Chicagoland in that era and they are likely to gush over the good memories these shorts bring back.
Of course, in the new millenium these shorts are easy to find and you can watch them anytime.
The oldest of the shorts is Suzy Snowflake, a stop-motion animation made in 1951.
The same animators also made Hardrock, Coco, and Joe in 1951.
Frosty the Snowman came in 1954 from the famous UPA studios.
Several years ago WGN begain airing these shorts again every Christmas as part of a special called Bozo, Gar, and Ray: WGN TV Classics, a fond remembrance of WGN’s kids’ programming from that age. While these shorts are obviously available on the Internet, the rest of this program is not.
That makes it special. May your holiday be special, too!
And may your holiday create excellent memories! My trusty Polaroid camera captured childhood Christmas memories as I wrote last year.