When I was a kid, all of the grown-up men I knew worked in the great smoking factory that my Dad called "the goddam hellhole." And all of the grown-up women were their wives, cooking and cleaning and raising their kids in the small square houses that stretched out to infinity in all directions. Everyone assumed that this was my destiny, too. When I grew up, I would spend every day in the goddam hellhole, and come home every night dog-tired and cursing to my small square house, where my wife and kids would be waiting.
Most of the tv programs I watched offered an escape: Gilligan and the Skipper didn't work in a goddam hellhole, they were sailors, and Robbie Douglas' Dad and Uncle Charlie lived happily together without wives. But if I got up too early on Saturday morning, or dared to watch tv on Sunday, a series of badly animated cartoons pushed obedience to Big Brother:
The message was clear: don't dream, don't aspire. Conform. No escape is possible.
Wally Cox) had a girlfriend, Sweet Polly Purebread. And his alter ego wasn't a cool journalist, like Clark Kent, or a millionaire, like Bruce Wayne -- he was a shoe shine boy!
The cartoons were produced by Total Television. Some originally appeared on King Leonardo and His Short Subjects (1960), and some on Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales (1963) or Underdog (1964), but by the time I was watching, they were relegated to the ghetto of early Saturday or Sunday mornings.
At least they were better than Rocky and Bullwinkle.