“A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse, of course.”
There were a lot of bad things about the 1950s and the 1960s. Segregation was condoned, both legally and emotionally. The Cold War reminded people that the world was just a power play away from someone pushing a button that could annihilate entire countries. Polio was a genuine threat and people around the world, whether rich or poor, were gripped in fear whenever they or one of their children ran a fever. Being gay was against the law.
Still, our memories tell us that the mid-20th Century was a simpler time. If you don’t want to take my word for it, Baby Boomers, think about the television sitcoms that were popular when you were a tike laying in front of your parents’ television soaking in radiation that was almost certainly being emitted from the television tubes. The TV consoles were huge pieces of furniture, but the screens were the size of iPads.
Bill and I were driving somewhere the other day, and we passed a group of people on horseback (because we live in the WILD WILD WEST). Suddenly Bill said, “Hello Willlllbur,” in a funny voice. I immediately knew to what he referred. The ridiculous but compulsively watchable sitcom Mr. Ed appeared on CBS in 1961, and ran for six seasons. SIX SEASONS.
You remember Mr. Ed. He was the palomino horse owned by dorky Wilbur Post who suddenly started talking one day. No one knows why. The reason is never explained. The one who came the closest to an explanation was Mr. Ed himself, who said, “Wilbur, this is bigger than us.”
I was 8 years old when Mr. Ed began appearing on CBS. I remember being amazed that the producers of the show could get Mr. Ed to move his mouth as though he was really talking. Apparently, in the beginning, strong thread was used to move the horse’s lips. Eventually, Bamboo Harvester (which was Mr. Ed’s actual name) learned to move his lips when someone touched his hoof. It seems that the television executives were too busy trying to figure out if anyone would believe two men would drive up and down Route 66 solving mysteries to worry about animal abuse. Nowadays the animation would be amazing, but I thought Mr. Eds’ mouth moving was in itself amazing. As I said, simpler times.
Not only did I love the mid-20th Century sitcoms, but I remember the words to many of the opening songs.
Green Acres is the place to be
Farm living is the life for me.
Land spreading out so far and wide,
Keep Manhattan and give me that countryside.
Come and listen to my story about a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
And then one day he was shootin’ at some food,
And up through the ground come a-bubblin’ crude.
They’re creepy and their kooky
Mysterious and spooky
They’re altogether ooky
The Addams Family.
I didn’t have to look up any of those lyrics. I have them memorized. The truth is, I could go on and on, but it would only remind me of the space in my brain being used to remember the lyrics to old sitcoms rather than versus of the Bible.