featuring the original,
Spanky McFarland was hip..he used to do remotes at the old fire station on 18th and Boston. I was on his show a couple of times...
(Once) my sister and I went down to the fire station to film a skit...Spanky hooked me up to one of those big hooked firemen's belts, then he told me to take off running...Of course, I didn't go anywhere 'cause I was leashed to Spanky...
(You can't quite read it in this picture, but the adult Spanky's beany says "Swift's Ice Cream")
I had asthma REALLY bad as a kid. This takes on more importance later. My cub scout group (Den 21, Pack 42, Holmes School) had its day on Spanky's Clubhouse on Channel 6. I got to sit in the Sargeant-At-Arms seat on Spanky's right and my pal, Mike Beason (who lived around the block) was on Spanky's left. Spanky began asking us a lot of "boy scout" kinds of questions. He wanted to know how we would start a fire in the woods...."by rubbing two sticks together?" We said, "Yeah." He grabbed me and Mike and walked us straight out to the camera, took my left arm and Mike's right arm and proceeded to rub them together. One of the floor crew, on cue, threw a match into a pile of explosive powder on the floor beneath the camera and -- BOOM! Now, I'm sure that the audience at home got a big kick out of the two cub scouts being rubbed together and exploding. What it did to me, though, was create an acrid smoke that gave me an asthma attack that lasted three days. That's why I like Lee and Lionel better than Spanky. Besides, no 40+ year old guy should be running around in a beany and shorts playing with little boys!
Does anyone but me remember Barnabas the balloon committing suicide on Spanky's Club House? Barnabas was a penny balloon with an evil-looking face painted on it. He would inflate and then Spanky would have a conversation with him. Barnabas' lips didn't move or anything. His whole thing was inflating and deflating. One day Barnabas became extremely aggravated and threatened to keep inflating until he burst. Spanky took him up on his threat and a day was set for Barnabas' self-inflicted death to be telecast on local TV. If I remember correctly, Spanky made a contest out of this and the kid who guessed the nearest time of Barnabas' death won a prize. It did happen. Barnabas got bigger and bigger. I don't remember what he was saying, but he kept talking until "POP" he blew himself into pieces. I often wonder how many kids who saw this have been marked for life. When I tell people about Barnabas, I sometimes doubt if it actually happened.
As I read Mike Staniford's account of the infamous balloon, "Barnabas" on Spanky's Club House, I remember begging my mother to send in a postcard with our guesstimate of the time and date of Barnabas' demise. I wondered if Mike remembered that the prize was a puppy.
Some memories to share. My family moved to Tulsa in 1957. Children's programming in the afternoon included Spanky McFarland showing "Little Rascals" on KOTV, "Popeye Theater with Captain Hal" on KTUL and another show which was a predecessor to "Big Bill and Oom-A-Gog" on KVOO. My first visit to a TV station was my sixth birthday at KTUL to be on "Popeye Theater."
I also remember meeting Spanky at the Tulsa State Fair when KOTV did live remotes from the fair. I remember the balloon head exploding, but didn't recall that being a suicidal gesture.
In 1992, I was on a plane from Nassau to Atlanta. Spanky was in the seat behind me. We chatted briefly--I told him that I had met him when I was about six or seven years old. He said it must have been in Tulsa. I told him it was indeed.