March 28, 2005

"I'll Stand Downstream While Jim Wrestles the Man-Eating Tiger To The Ground."

(Image courtesy of Snunk Pet)

Today is the birthday of Marlin Perkins, born this day in 1905.

The Boomer generation sometime talk of their collective memory of watching Howdy Doody when they were kids. I think there must a similar cultural commonality in Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom for those of us who are a bit younger, especially those of us who caught it in syndication.

I'm forty now, but I can still plainly remember watching Marlin and Jim Fowler every Saturday evening at 6:00 or 6:30. Back in those days, when I felt like I was going to be seven forever, it seemed my parents always went out on Saturday night. (How well I understand why, now.) We kids would watch Wild Kingdom and eat our dinners while waiting for the babysitter to show up. Even now, I can taste the spaghettios and Handy Andy soda water, with Eskimo Pie for afters.

In one of our first experiences in learning to be tee vee critics, my brother, sister and I got very good at identifying what you might call the Gratuitous Manly Marlin shots - Marlin sticking his head out the side of a chopper to walkie-talkie somebody, Marlin looking noble and concerned beside the big fellah bull elephant just collared and tagged, Marlin judiciously considering how to go about getting a grip on the deadly-poisonous snake from behind. But we were quick to notice also that, for all Marlin's posing, it was usually poor old Jim who did the dirty work. (Hence the title of this post, which is also a long-standing family joke.)

Posted by Robert at March 28, 2005 02:15 PM

My one distinct memory from long ago is Marlin and Jim in a rowboat in a wetlands setting: they're looking for snapping turtles. Marlin points out that all action apparently taking place under the surface must mean a really big turtle is under there, and sure enough Jim gets to jump in and come up with a turtle big enough to have snapped his leg off.

Posted by: Ira at March 28, 2005 02:23 PM

Ah, the memories! "Let's watch Jim wrestle the man eating tiger while I sit here in hut with my banana daiquiri."

The other show we always were made to watch was Lawrence Welk.

Posted by: Ith at March 28, 2005 02:54 PM

We watched occasionally, although I think that because we kids were girls might explain why we weren't necessarily as devoted.

Posted by: jen at March 28, 2005 02:54 PM

Carol Burnett after dinner.

Posted by: The Colossus at March 28, 2005 03:00 PM

Heh. I always lampooned it with "Now Jim will attempt to circumcise this Cape Buffalo".

The one time I saw Marlin actually wade in (literally) and work as hard at it as Jim was when they were in South America, trying to relocate animals stranded by a new hydroelectric damn, and an anaconda the size of the Alaska Pipeline got a death grip on Jim.

Posted by: Brian B at March 28, 2005 04:17 PM

I used to watch Lawrence Welk and Carol Burnett when I got to spend the night at my grandmother's house.

I should have mentioned that, since we were in the South, the other big kiddy dinner weekend show was Hee-Haw. And, of course, Disney on Sunday evenings.

Posted by: Robert the LB at March 28, 2005 04:17 PM

Ah, yes. Wild Kingdom. One of my favorite early shows. For some reason I remember it on Sunday nights.

Posted by: RobertJ at March 28, 2005 06:13 PM

Remember when he climb the cliff in south america to capture a andean condor and put a track collar on it and a leg tag and the one with the western grebes skimming across the water kind of unforgetible

Posted by: mad heron at March 28, 2005 10:49 PM

Handy Andy? You guys aren't from San Antonio, are you?

Posted by: George at Snapshot at March 29, 2005 02:00 PM

Yup, grew up there.

Posted by: Robert the LB at March 29, 2005 02:04 PM

High school? Year? Any self-respecting San Antonian must divulge this information immediately.

Posted by: George at Snapshot at March 29, 2005 02:08 PM

Heh. Well, it was Churchill, class of '83. But I haven't been back since. (Full disclosure also requires me to say I'm not a native. I was born in upstate New York and come from a family of Yankees on both sides.)

Posted by: Robert the LB at March 29, 2005 03:02 PM

Too funny.

Keystone, class of '87 (would have been Alamo Heights, but despised the place). Had many Churchill friends, though they would have been in 8th grade your senior year.

Older sister was class of '84. I'm sure there is the usual web of connections along the lines of "I knew so-and-so's big brother, who dated so-and-so's ex-girlfriend's cousin." SA runs on that sort of thing.

Posted by: George at Snapshot at March 29, 2005 03:29 PM

No doubt. I knew both some Heights and some Keystone people. And I have a younger brother and sister who probably knew more.

Posted by: Robert the LB at March 29, 2005 05:38 PM
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