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Roy Winsor of Sky King, a show about a flying cowboy.

"Sky King", was based on a radio story by Kirby Grant, which aired on ABC 1946 - 1950, and on Mutual 1950 - 1954. 136 episodes were filmed, 64 of the last episodes from the number 73 to 136 were destroyed in a New York film vault fire. Only episodes 1 thru 72 remain.

TV Times – Part I

by Richard H. Liddell

In my lifetime, there have been many defining moments: John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald’s shooting the Sunday morning after, Trudeau winning the Liberal nomination, Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon, Henderson’s winning goal in the ’72 series, Bev Tovell wearing the first mini-skirt to Walkerville C.I. (be still my heart!), Lady Di’s death, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, the two Gulf Wars, September 11, 2001. These events will be forever chiseled in my brain – I’ll never forget where I was, who told me and how I felt.

Most Canadians remember June 2, 1953 as the day of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II – but not this Canadian. For me that was the day CKLW Television decided to pre-empt Cowboy Colt with the stupid crowning of the Princess. Cowboy Colt was running a Range Rider serial and I did not want to miss one episode.

So what did I do? I went out on our front porch overlooking our weeping willow tree and threw one of my better tantrums. Dad, arriving home from teaching at Kennedy Collegiate, discerned my problem between sobs and did his best to explain the importance of this moment in history, but I was not swayed. The only thing that got my attention was his exasperated statement that if I wanted to continue screaming, he would make sure I had another reason to scream. Thus ended my tantrum.

One year before the Coronation, Dad had purchased the first tv set on the block and I was instantly thrust into the TV Era. I was also suddenly the most popular kid in my neighbourhood. Children came to our house at all hours of the day to see this new talking picture machine and, for a while, we stopped playing outside. Sherry and Gayle Bondy, Dino Santin, Richard Blake, Gladys Manser, Martin Baker and Ricky Ingram spent a lot of time in front of our huge General Electric TV The screen was only 9 inches on diagonal, more round in shape than square or rectangular. Images were frosted and garbled at times and one kid was responsible for aerial positioning duty. Peering in the back was exciting because all the tubes lit up, each with a different eerie glow. I remember how children like Susan and Jane Morrow visiting our home from Ottawa would fall into a strange hypnotic trance to everything around them. Today I can only compare the experience with trying to get my male grandchildren Seth and Aden’s attention as they play Gameboy.

We only received four channels: Channel 9 (CKLW) and Channel 2, 4 and 7 (CBS, NBC and ABC) from Detroit. Sometimes if the rabbit ear aerial on the television set was positioned just right we would receive a very cloudy Channel 11 or 13 from Toledo. Because of this box and its largely American influence, I am convinced that children of my era living in Windsor were probably more American than Canadian.

Saturday viewing started at 6 a.m. when the stations would run army training films fresh from World War II. I learned how to disassemble, oil, clean, assemble and load every type of gun and artillery known to the Free World. This was especially helpful with my cowboy rifle and six-shooters.

From the beginning, I was impressed with cowboy shows. Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Audrey, Roy Rogers, Range Rider, Tim Holt and Lash Larue taught us that good always triumphed over bad. Cowboy Colt showed cartoons and western serials. Sagebrush Shorty, a local show on Channel 2 had a children’s studio audience that one Sunday afternoon included my friends Don and Marv Routliffe who became instant celebrities at Hugh Beaton Public School the next week as they told their tales of Shorty.
Saturday morning we watched the Lone Ranger with his faithful sidekick, Tonto, Canada’s own Jay Silverheels. I remember the William Tell Overture that started and ended each performance just after one of the town’s people always said, “Who was that masked man?” as they rode off into the sunset.

Sky King was a great show about flying cowboy Uncle Sky and his niece, Penny, as they flew around Texas in a Piper Cub or later, a Bonanza airplane. Commercials always ran in the same spot for several weeks and I remember one for Ovaltine: it showed a man in lederhausen picking up a huge rock and hurling it to the applause of all.”Who but the hardy Swiss can hurl the huge 180 pound unsphoonan stone 10 feet at one toss and who but the hardy Swiss drink Ovaltine?”

Sergeant Preston of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with his faithful dog King searched for bad guys in the Yukon Territories and holding true to the adage, “they always got their man.” With King holding the villain down on the ground, the Sergeant would state, “I arrest you in the name of the Crown!” This show was sponsored by Quaker Oats and it provided me with my first opportunity to become a land owner. For two box tops of any Quaker product, I was sent an official square inch of property in the Yukon complete with a deed. Since I never paid taxes on my property, I’m sure the Territory has repossessed it. Alas, I wish this was the only bad property investment I had made over the years.

 “Milky’s Movie Party” premiered on December 16, 1950.The two-hour show featured cartoons, Westerns and Milky’s magic tricks. In the beginning there was no live audience, only Milky (Clare Cummings), the Twin Pines Milkman (orginally Earl Hayes and played by four different men in total) and the weekly winner of the “Sunshine Smile” photo contest. Durning the 60s Milky’s Party Time was so popular that there was a two-year wait for tickets.

Source: Clare Cummings by Ed Golick,

Saturday afternoon had Milky the Clown sponsored by Twin Pines Dairy in Detroit. Milky would constantly ask the children to say the magic words, “Mine’s Twin Pines,” and then they would dip their hands into a bowl of coins and whatever they could pull out was theirs to keep.

I would flounder in bed late on Sunday, hoping we wouldn’t have to go to church so I could watch Ramar of the Jungle. The show tended to stereotype the black natives of Africa and has therefore been rightly removed from rerun heaven, but as a not particularly politically correct 6 year old, I watched in amazement as Ramar always got the bad guys who were poaching lions, tigers, elephants, rhinoceroses and crocodiles or stealing native treasures. Andy Devine was also on Sunday mornings with Froggy Froggy and his show was sponsored by Buster Brown Shoes. It had serials of Jungle Boy and Tim Tyler’s Luck and just like soap operas, if you missed a couple of weeks, not to worry since you could catch up very quickly.

Then at 11 am, when all good people were supposed to be listening to their minister, Dad and I would watch Motor City Bowling with Buzz Fazio, Steve Nagy, Wrong Foot Louie Campi, Andy Veripapa and Billy “G” Golembiewski. If Andy was playing, he would always do some trick shots after the match and no spare, including the 7-10 split, was impossible for him. I learned wonderful expressions like”“turkey” and”“four-bagger” plus one Sunday watched Steve Nagy bowl a perfect 300 game. The show was sponsored by Earl Shieb who would “paint your car, any car, any colour for $19.95” and by Motor City Dragway at Sibley and Dix in Detroit.

Look for Part II in the September issue.

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