The things we watch on TV when we’re kids can stay with us for our whole lives. I grew up in the 70’s and I’ll never forget the Saturday morning Schoolhouse Rock cartoons that taught about history, grammar and math. I recently learned that there’s a whole generation of kids who grew up in the 50’s who remember a series of cartoons, put out by the US government, promoting racial harmony and tolerance.
These cartoons were first brought to my attention when I was asked about a song called, “The Big Bow-wow and the Little Meow”. It turns out that this song came from one of these commercials. Here’s what Barry Leibowitz wrote to me about it:
“In the early 50’s, there were these animated TV commercials that must have been government sponsored, meant to promote “brotherhood” and tolerance in our changing post-WWII society. The song I’m thinking of sounded like a sea chantey and involved an old salt and his cat and dog and how they got along so well on the boat.”
Steve Welch sent the lyrics to the song in this commercial. It went like this:
Oh commodore Bob had a dog and a cat
With a big bow-wow and a little meow.
They both got along without ever a spat!
How in the world did they ever do that,
With a big bow-wow, and a little meow…
He also said, “Another cartoon promoting racial harmony went like this:”
You can get good milk from a brown-skin cow,
The color of its skin doesn’t matter no-how.
Ho ho hee, can’t you see:
The color of your skin doesn’t matter to me.
Ooh-ooh, wee awee wee.
Steve continued, “They are probably not politically correct these days, but they were cute and must have made an impression on me.”
Barry told about another of these commercials:
“I remember another animated spot from that time that was about ethnic diversity. Maybe you remember it, too:”
I have a little friend,
His name ends with a “ski”
And this is what my father said
As I sat on his knee:
A ski, a witz, an off or cu
When added to a name,
Just teaches us the family
Or town from which it came.
A name like Thomas Jefferson
In some lands o’er the sea
Would not be Thomas Jefferson,
But Thomas Jefferski.
Or Jefferwitz, or Jefferoff or maybe Jeffercu,
So do not let a ski, a witz or off seem strange to you.
I feel the same towards every name
No matter how it ends,
‘Cause people with the strangest names
Can be the best of friends!
Barry said, “The animation was fairly primitive but it was a little boy and a little girl with their lunch boxes and hers said Mary Jones on it, while his said Tommy Popski. In the end, I remember them walking away together holding hands (innocently, of course). Jog any memories? I’d LOVE to know if anyone but me remembers these Public Service Announcements and if copies of them exist in some government vault somewhere!”
If anyone knows if we can view these videos on the web, please let us know. You’re also welcome to share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
This article was posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2007 at 1:16 pm and is filed under American Kids Songs, Cartoons, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, English, Government Sponsored Commercials, Languages, Movies, TV & The Internet, Schoolhouse Rock, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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