H is for Howdy Doody and Hooper School. Eighth of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!
From the perspective of age, I look back wistfully on my elementary years and the prevailing cultural influences on the Baby Boom generation. Primary among them was television.
Today many young folks are cutting the cord to save money on cable and live streaming from the internet. But during my elementary years, it was network TV that got us hooked. And one of my favorite programs was the Howdy Doody show that aired from 1947 to 1960.
The program featured Howdy Doody, a freckled marionette, as a sidekick to Buffalo Bob, who hosted the circus/western themed show — supported by a puppet and human cast.
Today I would not regard this program as politically correct (what did children of color make of this show, I wonder). But at the time I was innocently mesmerized by the extensive cast of animal and human marionettes that seemed very real to me.
So real that when the show ended permanently in 1960, I made a heavy-hearted entry in my diary — mourning, at age 10, the loss of part of my childhood.
24 Sept. 1960 – Dear Diary, Today at 11:01 Howdy Doody went off the air and won’t be back again. I cried very hard. I had watched it since I was a little girl.
Yet life went on and with it the yearly rhythms at Hooper School, my elementary school for grades 2 through 4 — and there were definite advantages over Altamont Elementary, where I went when we lived on the farm.
For one thing, I could walk to school from home — so no more school bus bullies to worry about. For another, there were cool stores near Hooper School to buy candy and other snacks — or to just roam around looking at the inventory. Some of those buildings are still standing.
Michaels 5 & 10 store — run by Mr. Michaels and his wife — had a fabulous penny candy counter was a perfect match for my meager allowance. All of us kids shopped there — or just wandered the two aisles looking at the school, hardware and beauty supplies hanging on the racks.
Endwell Market across Main Street, run by the Gowers, had a couple of gum ball machines out front and carried more expensive candy bars and other sweets at the counter. That’s where I had my first Sky Bar, regularly stocked up on Necco Wafers and decided that Three Musketeers was my lifelong candy bar of choice.
Seely’s Ice Cream, up Main Street from Michaels, was the classic 1950s soda fountain. There were stools at a long counter, booths along the opposite wall and you could get all things ice cream — from cones, sodas and milkshakes to banana splits — or eat lunch there if your parents could afford it. Alas, the building is gone.
Talk to anyone who went to Hooper School, and they will tell you how much they loved the stores nearby — important social gathering places where we children could take a break from our parents and from homework and have a bit of fun on the way home from school.
Up next: I is for Italian Ancestors and Indian Arrowheads. Please stop back!
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