The PBS children’s shows that make me feel nostalgic again

When you’re 56 years old (like me), or you’re feeling like you’re 56 years old (again, like me), you tend to reminisce about your childhood.  And I’ve done this on more than one occasion.

Today, I’m going to reminisce about some of the great children’s TV shows I used to watch WAAAAAY back in the day – back when there were only four television stations in the Albany area, and the only one that really aired anything for children at the time was WMHT.  Yeah, it took us a while to get cable.  Such was life.

Now I could post shots of programs like Sesame Street or The Electric Company or the like, but those are easy to show.  And yeah, there’s always Mr. Rogers or Bob Ross or LeVar Burton, but that’s another blog post for another time.

No, I’m digging up some rarities here.  Some of these programs only aired for a year or two, others lasted for a while but – for some reason – have completely disappeared.

So let’s start with …

VILLA ALLEGRE

This bilingual music and education show ran throughout the 1970’s on public broadcasting, and even picked up a Peabody award during its run.  It was not afraid to show skits in English or in Spanish – without subtitles in either direction.  That’s commendable.

VEGETABLE SOUP

How about a children’s television show that touts the lessons of racial harmony and inclusion, rather than prejudice and exclusion?  And as an added bonus, you get Bette Midler’s voice as an animated recipe spoon.  You have to see it to believe it.  And you know who made this show possible?  The New York State Department of Education.  Yeah, kinda knew we were good for something.

HODGE PODGE LODGE

Miss Jean Worthley took kids into the woods to study nature and the environment.  That’s the entire show.  For seven years, she showed the wonders of the outdoors, in 30-minute intervals.  I can live with this.

STUDIO SEE

This teen-oriented news magazine came from the South Carolina public broadcasting network, and it was syndicated throughout PBS stations from 1977 to at least 1983.  It was fun to watch, almost like a kid’s version of 60 Minutes or the like.

VISION ON

You want to see something cool?  Vision On was a children’s show that was primarily wordless – except for maybe an introduction by Pat Keysell, which was also accompanied by sign language.  Budding artists loved Tony Hart’s innovative drawings and paintings, and wait – did I just see Doctor Who in this episode?  I swear I did … This was a BBC production, but like most BBC shows, it found a way to PBS.  I mean, where else did all those Masterpiece Theater episodes come from?

Okay, one more.  One more, I promise.

Because I can’t leave out…

ZOOM

Yep, Boston’s WGBH brought us some local kids who could sing and dance and speak ubbi-dubbi (dubbon’t mubbake mubbee rubbemember hubbow tubboo spubbeeak thubbat), and it was fun to watch – until that invariable episode where some of the kids left the show and new ones joined.  Those were bummer episodes, but you dealt with it.

So I hope that trip down childhood memory lane brought back some smiles and great memories for you.  I know it did for me.  Hey, if nothing else, after watching these I don’t feel like I’m 56 right now.

Maybe 55.  Okay, 54 and a half.