Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Happy Trails Sally Starr

     I kissed another part of my childhood goodbye with the passing of Philadelphia television personality Sally Starr. Thinking of her brought back some memories when I spent time on weekday afternoons in front of the black and white tv.
     Normally I would drop my books and run right out of the front door when I got home from school. But on a rainy day I would warm up the old Zenith and turn to Channel 6 for Sally Starr's Popeye Theater. I figured my mom was praying for sunshine to get my brother and me out of the house instead of us horsing around like bandits and cowboys.
Sally Starr
     We'd have our plastic pearl handled six shooters in our holsters wearing cowboy boots and acting like Roy Rogers. We'd pull the trigger on those guns and the smell from the caps would fill the room. How my mom put up with us I don't know but she did turn gray haired fairly young. Those were definitely innocent times and I'm glad I grew up in the late 50s and 60s.
     But when it was dreary out I'd listen to Sally tell stories while waiting for the Popeye cartoons she would run on her two hour show. The one eyed sailor man with pipe in mouth and bulging forearms would battle the bearded bad guy Bluto who always tried to steal his girl Olive Oyl. The story line seemed the same and they'd tussle until Popeye would mumble those words, " That's all I can stand and I can't stands no more." He'd grab a can of spinich and smash his nemesis in the mush sending him into orbit.
     Then it would be back to 'Yur Gal Sal' and another skit. She was on television from 1951 until 1972 a long run in the tv world today.
     I met Sally Starr in 1988 on an assignment to photograph her for a Mercury article. I told her how I watched the show years before and out came that smile of hers. She was very friendly making it an easy photo shoot.
     Seasoned workers in the newsroom recalled Sally Starr and other tv personalities airing on Philadelphia stations including Happy the Clown, Pixanne, Captain Noah, Gene London, Captain Kangaroo and Chief Halftown. We could use more shows like these for kids instead of the afternoon crap talk shows that are on for adults. But times have changed.
     I was a cartoon watching enthusiast as a little guy.  From Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam to Tom and Jerry, Saturday mornings were my favorite times until I got kicked out of the house to play outside. I have to say that I saw my share of those celluloid characters and enjoyed all of them.
    And I won't forget the words of wisdom that I learned from Popeye to keep me on an even keel. "I yam what I yam."  Happy trails Sally.

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