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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

CHILDHOOD DAYMARE

In reading "The Little Rascals: The Life and Times of Our Gang" by Leonard Maltin and Richard W. Bann, I flashed back to a bad memory from my childhood. I was once traumatized by an "Our Gang" comedy short. I'm not kidding.

When I was very little, from about ages 4 to 6, I was afraid of photo enlargements of insects and certain creepy sea critters such as crabs, shrimp and lobsters. All those fuzzy, alien-looking, tendril-y things made my skin crawl. I sometimes wonder if it's because I was born in 1958, when the "BEM" (bug-eyed monster) movie craze was still in full swing. I couldn't watch movies like "Them!" or "The Beginning of the End" or "Tarantula" or "Fiend Without a Face."

I remember once, when I was a tiny kid, looking at a children's book at a neighbor's house. On the back cover was an advertisement for other books by the same publisher (a Golden Book imitator), which showed some sort of children's science book with a closeup of an insect or a lobster on the cover. It scared the (expletive) out of me! When "The Outer Limits" aired the episode titled "The Zanti Mistfits" -- about bugs from another planet with human faces -- I hugged my dad the whole time.

Anyway, there was an "Our Gang" episode that REALLY FREAKED ME OUT. It stayed in my psyche for a lifetime. I now know its title, thanks to Messrs. Maltin and Bann. In "Fishy Tales" (1937), Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) fakes a leg injury to avoid a beating by Butch (Tommy Bond). To do so, he sticks his leg in a secret hole in his bed. But underneath the bed is Junior (Gary Jasgar), who puts a crab and a cat on Alfalfa's hidden foot, to Alfalfa's panicked screaming.

I remember being about 5. My family was watching it on a Sunday morning. Everyone was laughing except me. I couldn't fathom what everyone found funny about this terrible situation Alfalfa was in.

But now that I know the title of this childhood daymare of mine, of course, I want to confront my fears and watch it again.

4 Comments:

Anonymous gail jeanne mcgillicuddy said...

I remember that episode. Wasn't there like a long fish put into the bed in place of Alfalfa's leg or something like that?

And wasn't there one that got banned because it made black people look bad? Was it the baptism one - where a bunch of African Americans in white robes were all getting dunked in the river and running around like crazy shouting "Hallelujah" and the kids were freaking out - thinking they were seeing ghosts? That was one of my favorite ones, actually. And in black in white it looked even freakier. That one made a huge impression on me for some reason.

1:15 PM, July 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Don't drink the milk...why...it's spoilt!" (Pass it down)

That was my favoirite episode, all the kids eating mush at the table, making a strange concoction in the kitchen (I may have morphed two episodes together) :)

I don't remember the crab episode...I wish they would rerun those shows, for my own kids to see.

Margaret

7:13 AM, July 07, 2007  
Blogger Mark Voger said...

Ms. McGillicuddy and Margaret: Bless you both for tuning in every now and then.

Even as a kid, I thought Darla's skirts were a little on the short side.

I think the addition of Froggy is when the Rascals "jumped the shark."

Don't the bully and his sidekick on "Christmas Story" remind you of Butch and Woim?

7:14 PM, July 08, 2007  
Anonymous gail jeanne mcgillicuddy said...

that bully totally reminds me of Butch. Uncanny resemblence.

12:59 AM, July 11, 2007  

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