“That’s All, Folks!”: Bygone Saturday Mornings

312px-RCA_Indian_Head_test_patternAs a kid, Saturday morning was a ritual. I woke around 5 or 6am and tried to stay in bed, as instructed, but usually couldn’t manage it for much longer than 30 minutes. On Saturday, the rule was not to wake anyone if you were the first one up, and I usually was that person. I’d tip-toe the length of the house to the family room, trying my very best to be as quiet as possible. I got the pets their breakfast, not because I was a good kid who did chores without being told, but because I had to keep them from barking and meowing and causing a racket. Then I would hop on the couch and turn on the TV.

Saturday morning cartoons did not start until 7am. Some mornings I managed to sleep in long enough to not have to wait for them to start, but because my favorites were on first thing, I was anxious not to miss any of them. So, if I was up early, I would watch the farm report, which was the only thing on at that hour on a Saturday (and something I always thought odd, since, as far as I knew, we lived very far away from any farms). Obviously, these were the days before such things as VCRs and cable, and most stations did not broadcast 24 hours a day. The hours between midnight to 6am were reserved for that grayscale Indian chief bullseye thing, or colored bars, and a constant flat-sounding electronic tone.

Many times I would fall back asleep on the couch, waking when my father came out to the kitchen. Mornings were his time of day, so Mom left the breakfast prep to him while she slept in. This meant pancakes and either link sausage or bacon. I liked to help, but so did my siblings, who were getting up about now as well. We’d squabble a little bit about who got to do what in the kitchen, and then argue about what channel we were going to watch, based on that kid-styled democracy of who got dibs the previous Saturday. Rock-paper-scissors or a coin toss often decided the final vote. However, when 8:30am came around, the channel was switched to Bugs Bunny and friends. We all liked those cartoons plenty, but more to the point, they were my Dad’s favorites. He would sit on the couch and watch with us, letting us eat pancakes in front of TV. After Bugs came my mother, who would snap off the TV the second the program signed off with “that’s all, folks!” and shoo us back to our respective rooms to bathe and dress for whatever the day had in store.

When cable came around with 24 hour programming and channels dedicated to just cartoons, I felt a little sorry for the loss of that Saturday morning ritual. The Saturday morning cartoon broadcast held out for a while, but eventually it stopped. So, it didn’t turn out to be a long standing tradition; just a 20-year window for those of us born in the late 50s to late 70s. But I haven’t met anyone around my age who doesn’t think of watching cartoons on a Saturday morning as part of their rite of passage through childhood.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Me Time.”

5 thoughts on ““That’s All, Folks!”: Bygone Saturday Mornings

  1. I remember, but for me it was Cream of Wheat or Coco Wheats…Remember “I waaaaant my Maypo!” Never did like the stuff, but that commercial is imprinted in my memory along with Saturday morning cartoons. I enjoyed your vignette. Judy

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    1. Don’t remember Coco Wheats, but certainly Cream of Wheat, which was OK if I was allowed to dump as much honey on it as I could get away with. Also Shredded Wheat, which my Dad loved. Blech!

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