Howdy Doody and Hooper School #AtoZChallenge

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.
Howdy Doody checks out his new look. When the Howdy Doody show ended permanently in 1960, I made a heavy-hearted entry in my diary mourning the loss of part of my childhood. Photo:

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.

Hooper School

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.

Former red brick Michaels 5 & 10 Store (2018). Michaels had a fabulous penny candy counter that was a perfect match for my meager allowance. Seely’s Ice Cream was located at the left, where Citgo is now. Photo: Molly Charboneau

Michaels 5 & 10 store — which was run by Mr. Michaels and his wife — had a fabulous penny candy counter that 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.

Former Endwell Market  building (2018). Run by the Gowers in the 1950s-60s, the Endwell Market had a couple of gum ball machines out front and carried more expensive candy bars and other sweets at the counter. Photo: Molly Charboneau

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 ad in the Endicott Daily Bulletin, Feb. 4, 1958. Source: George F. Johnson Memorial Library

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 now 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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6 thoughts on “Howdy Doody and Hooper School #AtoZChallenge”

  1. My sister and I used to watch Howdy Doody everyday. Our favorite was Princess Summer-Winter-Spring and Fall. I got a replica of her headdress off of a cereal box or sent a time for one. Anyway, I had one.

    What did children of color think of it? We didn’t think about it. We were happy there was an “Indian princess” in it as a person of color representative.

    At that time, the only black children on television were in the Little Rascals and they were always bugging their eyes and being ridiculous. Not inspiring. Most everything was white, as far as books and movies and television went.
    Finding Eliza

    1. Thanks for this, Kristin. I also remember Princess SummerFallWinterSpring, but had no idea there was a headdress available for children who watched the show. When my younger sisters were growing up, I was a teenager — and I remember thinking how much more stimulating and diverse Sesame Street was compared to the shows offered during our childhoods.

  2. I enjoyed your post. I watched Howdy Doody, but I don’t remember it as well as I do other programs–Pinkie Lee, for example, and the Mickey Mouse Club. We were happy with three networks. I’m not sure we’re better off with all the choices we have now.

    1. Yes, of course, Mickey Mouse Club! I watched that as well — though later in my childhood. I agree about the three networks. I have thousands of cable choices now, but not much is appealing.

  3. Ooooh my brothers and I always lined our little chairs up in front of the old TV set (not too close so you didn’t ruin your eyes) and anxiously waited for Howdy Doody to come on.
    We had one store in our little town… grocery store upstairs and convenience store (we called depanneur) down in the half basement with a fabulous penny candy counter. We would walk to the store (at the other end of town from where we lived) hoping to find a penny or a tossed-away pop bottle for which we’d get 2¢ …. and we always found one or the other… and spent ages agonizing over what to buy.
    Thanks for stirring up these wonderful memories with each of your posts!

    1. What a great story, which parallel’s my own. And yes, I also remember agonizing over the candy choices — there were so many 🙂 — thanks for that reminder!

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