Watching the Radio – The Teddy Bear’s Picnic

In 1950, when I was a child, my family’s favorite past time was listening to the radio. In the afternoons, Mama listened to Our Gal Sunday, Amos and Andy, Fibber Magee and Molly while she ironed pillowcases and sheets.

My favorite show was an hour-long children’s show on Saturday morning, Big Jon and Sparkie – No School Today. Jon Arthur almost single-handedly produced the show. He was also the various voices of his characters and used sound effects and music to enhance the realism. His main character was an elfin creature named “Sparkie”, who, like Pinocchio wished to be a real boy. Their adventures often included solving mysteries involving various characters called Daffodil Dilly and Mayor Plumpfort.

I would awake early Saturday morning, take my blanket and alarm clock into the dining room, and lay on the floor in front of the radio. Mama wouldn’t allow me to turn on the radio until 8:00 AM, so I watched the clock creep toward the exciting hour. At exactly 8:00 AM, on went the radio, the volume real low, and I was transported into Big Jon and Sparkie’s world. The theme song was “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic.” I can still remember the words…

It’s picnic time for teddy bears. The teddy bears are having a lovely time today. Watch them… catch them unawares. See them picnic on their holiday. See them gaily gad about, how they play and shout. They never have any cares. Beneath the trees, where nobody sees, they hide and see as long as they please, ’cause that’s the way the teddy bears have their picnic.

Technology marched on. We got our first television in 1952, which provided new family entertainment. Live pictures made my imaginary world of mysteries and elfin creatures seem dull and lifeless. Saturday morning, Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse cartoons tempted me to abandon Big Jon and Sparkie.

Looking back, I think giving up radio shows for television took away something special about ‘watching the radio’. Wrapped in my blanket on a chill Saturday morning while my family slept in late, I used my imagination to create the characters and see the events in Big Jon’s quaint little tales. My seven-year-old creations were far more interesting than the Hollywood produced flickering black and white characters.

Over the past 70+ years, with the advent of even more technology, big screen wonders, U-tube, the I-phone, the internet, much of entertainment has advanced even more. I wouldn’t want to give up all the forms of current day entertainment, but there is something to be said for wrapping yourself in a blanket,laying on the floor in front of the radio, and watching the clock tick slowly toward 8:00 AM until it’s time for…The Teddy Bear’s Picnic.

A Summary About my Published Novels

All e-book novels are $3.99 at Amazon

Black Cat’s Legacy reveals a cat with his ancestors’ memories.   When Kimberlee comes to the lake resort, she must solve her father’s cold case murder and Thumper realizes his legacy to help her solve the crime. Introducing the characters, part of this series is written from the cat’s POV.

Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer. Thumper goes with his family to Grandmother’s Texas horse ranch where they encounter wild horses, an embezzling attorney, a foreman with a secret identity, a fake children’s society, and a murder plot to do in Grandmother before she can change her will. Thumper meets his soul-mate. Together, they must prevent a murder.

Black Cat and the Accidental Angel. Thumper has lost his memory after an MVA, ends up on an emu ranch in No. CA with a female companion. “Call me Angel. I’m here to take care of your,” she says. They must help this new family resolve issues that put a child at risk. Back in Fern Lake, Kimberlee and family try to find their lost cats. Written about 75% from Thumper’s POV, he faces very ‘human issues’ of love, loss, rejection, jealousy, failure as he regains his memory and learns there are more important things than knowing your own name. A more spiritual story… there MAY be an angel!

Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary.  While Black Cat and Angel face challenges in Fern Lake, Kimberly has found a diary with clues to a missing WWII fortune in gold coins. The clues take her to Austria where she races the clock against a stalker determined to find the gold first. 50% is told by Black Cat and 50% from Kimberlee’s POV.

All Things Cat

An anthology of 21 short stories all about cats, written by cats, and stories including a cat from every walk of life, time frame and social environment. Some excerpts from the previous published cat novels. (Amazon e-book $2.99)

Another Series set during WWII in No. California. Mrs. Odboddy adventures:

Mrs. Odboddy – Hometown Patriot. Elderly eccentric Agnes Agatha Odboddy has issues of distrust and suspicion as she fights the war from the home front, believing conspiracies and spies abound in her small town. Filled with hysterical scenes, it includes much of ‘life’ as lived by citizens during an era of rationing and deprivation during WWII. When Mrs. Roosevelt visits, Agnes’s suspicions become reality and she must prove she is, indeed, a hometown warrior. (First place Fiction Award- NCPA 2017)

Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier.  Asked to hand carry a ‘package’ to President Roosevelt in Washington, Mrs. O is sure NAZI spies will join her cross country train from CA to Washington, D.C. A laugh on every page guaranteed as this eccentric elderly WWI retired spy faces challenges in every state across the USA. (Third Place Cover and Design Award – NCPA 2018)

Mrs. Odboddy And Then There was a Tiger.  As the tiger of war crosses the globe, Mrs. O is challenged by the woes of a displaced carnival tiger. Carelessly, she loses the War Bond money and must redeem her good name, find the money while defeating crime. Add a bit of elderly romance and you have the recipe for humor on every page. (Second Place Gen Fiction Award – NCPA 2019)

Mrs. Odboddy’s Desperate Doings

Agnes faces agonizing challenges, as she continues to seek a permanent home for the displaced tiger. To add to her dismay, she is convinced the beloved local doctor is heading an art theft ring and is determined to expose him. The onset of mysterious headaches, hallucinations and fainting spells places a toll on all of her efforts.

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain

While the small-town reels at the announcement of an unexplained government facility to be built in their community, a mysterious woman is sighted in the woods. Is she the woman who disappeared after a recent MVA, or is she the embodiment of a Native American Spirit Woman said to appear when the town is in trouble? Strange gifts left on Judy’s doorstep further complicate the situation.

Dead Bush Poker

Readers seem to visit my posts about “cats’ more than any other, so  I’ll post a few short stories I’ve written about cats. Feel free to comment about your cat if you wish or send my story to a friend who might enjoy reading it.

DEAD BUSH POKER

Elaine Faber

I live in Dead Bush, a small town in Texas. I’m a fine figure of a feline, though some would say, somewhat on the portly side. It must be true, as there is a tomcat that returns to town every spring with a glint in his eye. I haven’t given him a tumble yet, but next spring might be a fine time to consider the offer. I’ve heard that a bit of romance can be revitalizing to one’s health.

Dead Bush sports three saloons, a general store, the bank, a church, a blacksmith shop and a hotel such as nice folks don’t mention in front of the kids. Modern slat sidewalks were added this spring at the suggestion of those specific ladies who live in the aforementioned establishment.

Today, being Founder’s Day, farmer’s wives prepare pies and BBQ sides of beef for a giant banquet and sponsor a square dance out behind the blacksmith’s shop. Bright and early, neighboring farmers trickled into town with planks and sawhorses for the long tables needed to feed the attendees.

Long about 10:00 AM this morning, several raggedy ex-Civil War soldiers rode into Dead Bush on horses that looked like they was rode hard and put away wet. They congregated at the Dry Spell Saloon where they acquired liquid libation and a commenced a serious poker game.

The regulars at the Dry Spell saloon have considered me their personal mascot, ever since the town sheriff found me, the lone survivor of a wagon train massacred by a tribe of renegade Indians. Shorty, the barkeep saves me left-overs from the day’s leavings. This, added to my hunting prowess, leads to my aforementioned portliness.

I’ve heard that cats are almighty scarce and considerable valuable these days. In fact, a number of local farmers have offered Shorty big bucks for me, beings as cats don’t eat much and can keep a barnyard free of rodents and such vermin.

Well, seems these aforementioned soldiers what came to town with their long rifles and powder horns sat and drank well past noon. It caused quite a stir amongst the gamblers when I chanced to wander through the saloon. There commenced talk of some cowpoke that had hauled a cat in burlap sack to a farm in the middle of nowhere, and sold it for a $20 gold piece. One of the soldiers reported big money being paid for cats further out west, and he sudden-like, took a notion to buy me. Shorty declined, saying I couldn’t be bought since I didn’t belong to nobody.

As the drinking commenced, the soldier cajoled Shorty into a poker game with me as the stakes! I sat near the potbelly stove, preening my whiskers, somewhat amused by the stupidity of those soldiers what thought they could buy and sell another living creature. Didn’t the Civil War, just fought, disprove the nation of that opinion?

The scent of barbequed chicken wafting through the open door caught my attention, and I left the fools to their folly. I ambled down the sidewalk, past the wooden cigar Indian in front of the general store, and rounded the nearest banquet table laden with food. The oldest six of Mrs. Barnwhistle’s nine children cornered me straight away and near strangled the life out of me with their stroking and clutching, chucking under my chin, and shifting me from child to child. I’ve learned to put up with such nonsense as long as they don’t pull my tail. It puts their mothers in a fair mood when you allow such nonsense and they get such a kick out of seeing their child all jollified, they’ll offer me a pinch of chicken or a slice of bread and butter. If things get too rowdy after such juvenile mauling, I can easily get away and lick off the sticky jam or mud clinging to my furs.

Raucous laughter from inside the saloon caught my attention. I felt it prudent to check on the doings, as my future as mascot at the Dry Spell Saloon seemed dependent on the turn of their cards.

Empty glasses were lined up in front of the four players hunched over the poker table, and splashes of liquor pooled on the table. Shorty’s chips were considerably fewer than the other three players. My whiskers drooped as chances of remaining the Dry Spell Saloon mascot began to wane.

Shorty’s chips rose and fell as the afternoon wore on. I sat on a nearby table, commiserating with Mr. Casper, a grey-haired old codger who operated a small gold claim in a nearby river. Whenever he came to town, he usually exchanged most of his gold for Shorty’s liquor. The old man was a fool, but he didn’t smell quite as bad as most miners, as being tipsy, Mr. Casper fell in the river more often than most, washing away some of his natural man-stink.

In the late afternoon, the ladies announced that supper was served for any who cared to partake. The saloon emptied except for the four poker players, who found it harder and harder to sit upright in their chairs. Heads lolled and cards tumbled from their hands. More whiskey ended up on the floor than in their glasses. Never in the history of Dead Bush had such a game been played or the stakes so coveted.

Eventually, Smitty Rosenblatt passed out. George Waddlebaker went broke. Shorty hung in there, though blurry-eyed and slump-shouldered, as he continued to fight for his meezer. Poor Shorty looked ready to throw in the towel. Seeing the inevitable handwriting on the wall, I slipped through the front door and headed out onto the prairie, intending on a stay of four or five days, considering how revitalizing was an extended trip also to one’s health.

Besides, there was no sense watching Shorty go broke and the winner attempting to claim his prize. Mostly, I had no intention of being strung to the back of a saddle in a burlap sack until the old soldier found a farmer with a rat-filled barn and a $20 gold piece.

Someday, when folks sit around spinning yarns, they’ll tell the tale of a Founder’s Day when a cat was the prize in the highest stakes ever passed hands in a poker game in Dead Bush. As for me, I’ll continuing as the Dry Spell Saloon mascot, and when I retire to the back room on my burlap sack, I’ll think about next spring when old Tom comes ’acallin.’