I don’t know about you, but just listening to these birds carrying on makes me want to laugh, too.
Mr. Nature here, with proof that God does have a sense of humor. He must have, or He wouldn’t have created kookaburras.
Although found only in Australia, the kookaburra’s distinctive loony laughter was a staple in every jungle movie and TV show for decades–and for all I know, still is. The jungle can be in Africa, South America, India, or the Caribbean, it doesn’t matter where–no matter where it is, you hear the kookaburra. Tarzan, Sheena, Jungle Jim, Ramar–they all went about their business with the kookaburra in the soundtrack.
Ah, the days of innocence! Complete with Indian elephant wandering around Africa.
Remember Jungle Jim, starring Johnny Weissmuller? Tarzan with clothes on. Half an hour of pure TV pleasure, back in the 1950s. Man, I couldn’t get enough of those African adventure shows. Jungle Jim, Ramar of the Jungle, Sheena Queen of the Jungle (starring the irrepressible Irish McCalla: I think she went on to become an artist of some note)–I loved ’em all. And the kids in those shows never had to go to school! So much better than just answering nuisance robo-calls–which hadn’t been invented yet. But you can bet Jungle Jim never got one.
Where was I? Oh, yeah…
No African jungle adventure show would have been complete without the cry of the Australian kookaburra in the background.
Some of you, like me, don’t watch television anymore, largely because it’s gone so crappy. You don’t even have a television set. And you reacted strongly to “Beauty Beyond Bones” watching–and blaming herself for watching–the unbelievably cheap and sleazy denouement of a popular “reality” show.
Like you, I don’t watch such bilge. But I was part of the first generation of Americans that grew up with television, and TV was a big part of my childhood. I thank God that the kind of TV we have today wasn’t! And thanks to the Internet, I can no revisit a lot of those great old shows, commercial-free.
I have fond memories of many of those shows. Even more, I learned a lot from them about the art of storytelling, which now I have the honor to perform in the service of the Lord.
Man, when I was eight years old, nothing turned me on like Ramar of the Jungle! Later on in my childhood I moved on to Wagon Train, Rawhide, Route 66, etc. But it was Ramar that set my mind on fire and introduced me to techniques of storytelling which I use today. They had only half an hour, minus time lost to commercials, to tell the story of an adventure, with beginning, middle, and end, create coherent characters and put them through their paces in a way that made sense, and still devote some time to immersing the viewer in the exotic African setting. It was a big job, but week after week, they did it.
OK, even old TV had its share of (shall we put it kindly?) faults. Grandma’s soap operas, for instance. Twilight Zone sneakily pushing atheism. Queen for a Day. I remember when the first kid in our third-grade class got color TV and invited the whole class to his house to watch Howdy Doody one Saturday morning. We were treated to an unearthly mixture of greens and reds in seldom-seen tones: color TV still had a ways to go.
So I grew up with television before it entered its current Gold Age of Sleaze. It helped teach me the kind of work I do today. And when I play an old Columbo episode from 40 years ago, I like it!
Ah, 1950s kids’ TV! I just couldn’t get enough of that stock footage of African wildlife, no matter how many TV shows it got recycled through–principally Ramar of the Jungle, with Jon Hall, and Jungle Jim, with Johnny Weismuller.
But let us not forget Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, which ran 1955-56, starring the statuesque Irish McCalla. I was too young to develop crushes on TV or movie stars, but I knew way cool when I saw it, and Sheena was way cool. What I wouldn’t have given to trade places with her! But then she’d be stuck behind a desk in my rotten second-grade class at Edgar School, while I’d be off in Kenya, easy prey for the first hungry animal to come along. She had a cool horn, too. I wished I had one like that.
If we might return, however briefly, to a more wholesome time, before they set up Satanist clubs in grammar schools, here’s one of those antique TV shows that set my imagination on fire when I was a kid.
Ramar of the Jungle, produced in 1953-54 and then in syndication for years, starred Jon Hall as medical missionary Dr. Tom Reyolds, and told of his adventures in the heart of Africa. Lots and lots of wildlife footage, which I could have sat and watched all day! Between that and Mark Trail comics, it’s no wonder I grew up to be Mr. Nature. Oh, and Ramar went to India, too, and had equally astonishing adventures there.
Do any of you out there remember this? Quite a few full episodes have been preserved on youtube, if you’ve got half an hour to spend on nostalgia.
And I hardly need add that my friends and I played “Ramar” a lot, making up our own adventures. Kids were still allowed to use their imaginations, back then.
I regret we haven’t used them more wisely when we got older.