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This week's Friday Five (well, one of them, anyhow) had the theme "Saturday Night’s All Right for Writing About."

1. What did a typical Saturday look like when you were a child?
I grew up in a middle-class American home in the 1960s and '70s, so the weekend always began with Saturday morning cartoons (and related kids' programming)! Seriously, what I think of as the heyday of cheap TV animation aimed at children pretty much co-incided with my grade-school and early adolescent years (we're talking 1966-'76), so if a silly kids' show was produced or syndicated in the U.S. during that period and shown on any day of the week at any time, chances are good that I saw at least an episode (not to mention all the toy advertising that sponsored it). But Saturday was "cartoon day." Uh, oh; I feel an over-long digression coming on ...

Now, the earliest cartoon show I associate exclusively with Saturday mornings is Beany and Cecil, which (ironically) had actually been made for prime-time in '62 but was then re-run on Saturday mornings for several years following. My sister and I were pretty tiny when this was on (memory places it in the black-and-white TV era), so I know my parents watched with us (I think they'd enjoyed the live-action puppet version of the program back in the 1950s), and I even think they bought us a "Dishonest John" pull-string puppet that proclaimed the show's villain's various catch-phrases.

My first exposure to Warner Brothers' "Looney Tunes" was via Saturday morning TV. The classic cinematic 'toons have been packaged and re-packaged for television in various ways over the years, but The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour (with that great show-bizzy opening theme song, "This Is It") was the version shown in my day.

All that said, when I hear the phrase "Saturday morning cartoon shows" now, I primarily think of the half-hour-long, laugh-track-accompanied, disposable-entertainment programs cranked out between 1968 and the mid-'70s by a few studios and sold to the Big Three networks specifically to be shown on the seventh day of the week between 8 a.m. and noon to undiscriminating minors ripe for being advertised to. From Sid & Marty Krofft, there was live-action/puppet fare such as H.R. Pufnstuf. Filmation gave us The Archie Show (and its spin-off, Sabrina), as well as Bill Cosby's Fat Albert. And then there was Hanna-Barbera, which practically owned the genre. Its plethora of silly shows included ones featuring improbably independent, crime-solving teenagers -- I particularly liked Scooby-Doo (then brand-new) and Archie comics' Josie & the Pussycats -- along with The Harlem Globetrotters, The Wacky Races, The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show, the SuperFriends, and (a bit later) the Laff-A-Lympics (to name but a few).

And I can't mention Saturday morning cartoons without also giving a shout-out to ABC TV's Schoolhouse Rock. A product of the latter part of my cartoon-watching days, its short segments (squeezed in between the story-type programs) painlessly taught me things about civics, grammar, and arithmetic that I *still* refer to from time to time as a teacher!

Oh, and Pop-Tarts were invented only a few years after I was, just in time to become our Saturday b'fast staple by the time I was in grade school. Unlike cereal, they didn't require bowls or utensils or milk-pouring, so we could eat on our own during cartoons without destroying the kitchen while Mom & Dad slept. (Yes, I know Pop-Tarts are poison. Still, I'd eat one now, if it were sitting on the desk in front of me.)

If we did something on Saturday as a family, it wouldn't be an organized trip or anything cultural; it might be an afternoon visit to the grandparents or cousins, or a shopping excursion to someplace Dad could stand (so, basically, Hechinger's hardware store). And if we were home all day, then there were neighborhood friends to play with after cartoons.

2. What did a typical Saturday look like when you were a teen?
Besides sleeping as late as possible, you mean? Hmmm ... I'll bet my sibs & I kinda did the cartoon thing on and off until we were into our upper teens (or at least I did, since as the oldest I could keep watching with the younger ones till they aged out of the practice). However, I'm happy to report that at some point I switched from Pop-Tarts to toast & tea for b'fast.

My sister and I didn't play any sports, and I don't remember music lessons happening on the weekend, so Saturday was our sacred vegging-out day. I'm sure I spent many a Saturday afternoon laying around and reading. I also recall my parents enlisting us for chores or yard work some Saturday afternoons, and eventually my little brother might have had some rec council sports games for us to go to ... but, nah, I mostly remember being lazy on Saturdays.

Those were the days.

3. What does a typical Saturday look like now?
These days, I mostly park myself in a comfortable chair in the living room and grade papers while the TV runs (generally episodes of shows that I missed during the week, which I can get via our cable system's On Demand feature). Now, there are some really good radio programs that air locally on NPR on Saturdays, and I used to spend a few hours each week listening to some subset of them in the kitchen while doing kitchen-y things (like washing the dishes, or maybe cooking things to re-heat and eat during the upcoming week). But the paper-grading, now that I teach so many courses, has really become a Saturday-killer. [Why not move the radio near the nice chair and listen to the good radio shows while grading? Because I can only grade to the accompaniment of something that doesn't compete intellectually, and TV better fills that bill.]

There is the occasional organized activity (not as many as there were a decade ago, when I sang in choruses and often had dress rehearsals or concerts on Saturdays). My son might have a rec council baseball game. I visit my parents sometimes, but not often enough.

The era that this questionnaire has skipped would be the early years of my marriage. Those were the best Saturdays, but I'm not going to describe them.

4. When did you last spend Saturday in a park?
I can't remember the last time I did that. I guess one doesn't tend to go to the park much when she already lives in the suburbs. If I want to unwind, I go somewhere where there's concrete and culture.

But I can count a New York City Park, can't I? See, I think I *was* actually in Bryant Park (it's on 42nd St., beside the Public Library) on a Saturday in July of 2014. A friend and I were having lunch and chilling there prior to seeing a B'way matinee (the show was either Violet, with Sutton Foster, or If/Then, with Idina Menzel -- we saw both that weekend). How about that!

5. Do you prefer to get a holiday on Friday, Monday, or some day in the middle of the week?
Since I am a church worker, I don't get a full-two-day weekend like other people (yes, I know this is my choice; just sayin'). Therefore, I like Friday holidays the best, so that I get a taste of the whole "two free days in a row" thing. Mondays are my second favorite (because who wouldn't rather spend Monday at home than in the office?). But, hey, I'll take a holiday on a mid-week day if that's the only thing on offer. :-)
 

(Crossposted to Dreamwidth)