It was a world away. Fifties kids dressed in Sunday finery, arranged in polite rows; grateful for a chance to be in the audience. In the days of black and white TV, every kid knew the curtains, behind the set, were the same color as balloons on Wonder Bread wrappers. Then, one day, there came a mysterious phone call.
“Hello, is this the Adam residence, telephone number xxx-xxxx? Is this the lady of the house?”
“Yes, this is Mrs. Adam.”
“Are you over twenty-one years of age? Because, in order to be eligible, you have to be an adult of legal age.”
My mother grinned. “That’s not a problem. I’m the mother of four kids; the oldest is twelve.”
“That’s fantastic,” Answered Buffalo Bob. “We’re broadcasting–you’re on the air right now. Do your kids watch the Howdy Doody program?”
“Yes, I believe my oldest son, has.”
“This is Buffalo Bob Smith, from the Howdy Doody Show. The reason I’m calling, we picked your name and telephone number at random.”
“Are you watching the Howdy Doody Show right now?”
“No, the television isn’t turned on,” Mom answered.
“Well, if you can answer the ‘secret word of the day;’ Clarabelle the clown held up earlier in the show, you’ll win some fabulous prizes, and a fantastic trip, to be in our television studio audience for one of our shows.”
“Mrs. Adam, can you tell us ‘secret word of the day?'”
“Was it buffalo?” Mom guessed.
“Sorry, Mrs. Adam–that’s incorrect. Thanks for playing and keep watching. It pays to watch and maybe we’ll call you again?”
Fate wasn’t kind to an eleven-year-old boy, that day, back in 1959; who’d never again have the chance to be in the Peanut Gallery on the Howdy Doody Show.
For we three brothers, at that time, Howdy Doody, was an unhip, didn’t want to be associated with, uncool, show for little kids. The real kicker-we didn’t have a television.
The show disappeared somewhere in the dusty archives of early television kiddie fare. “Quiet in the Peanut Gallery. No comments from the Peanut Gallery.” Those two hated, overused phrases, lived on well into adulthood.