Peep Show

Remember when TV stations had local programing?  You do?  Then you must be as old as Perry Block.  For those under forty, let me explain. Back in the golden era of television, stations would do anything to gain viewers and improve ratings. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this was by bringing local children into the studio for fifteen seconds of fame.  

Every station in our viewing area (all three of them) had a “Santa Show” where the kids would sit on Santa’s lap and stare dumbfounded at the camera while Santa attempted to gain their attention long enough to learn who they were and what they wanted for Christmas. (A ridiculous premise since he’s already supposed to know those things.)

My favorite local show was Uncle Zeb’s Cartoon Camp. It came out of channel 8 in Tulsa. Uncle Zeb dressed like an old prospector and was forever popping adult oriented one-liners. If the temperature was below freezing, like it is here today, Zeb would proclaim, “Hey, kids, it’s Brass Billy Goat weather out there.”

If you’re new to Friday Flash Fiction, the host of our weekly program is Elmyra “Babs” Wisoff-Fields.  If you’d like to participate in this exercise in madness, head over to her blog for step-by-step instructions. To view the FFF  Hollywood Squares Authors Block click


copyright - Randy Maize
copyright – Randy Maize

“Hey, Randy, why do you think they boarded up the windows like that and spray-painted ‘No Trespassing’ on the building?”

“To attract attention. It’s a new marketing ploy.”

“That doesn’t make much sense.”

“Sure it does. Anytime you tell people NOT to do something, they can’t help but do it. For example, hang a ‘Wet Paint’ sign on a park bench and see how many people touch it to see if it’s wet.”

“Ah, that explains the gaps between the plywood.”

“Exactly, they’ll line up in droves to peek through those cracks.”

“But isn’t that the home of a supermarket gossip rag?”

“Yep, The National Inquirer.”

Uncle Zeb
Uncle Zeb

32 Comments on “Peep Show

  1. Nice story, Russell.
    The premise behind it was once used in earnest by a Nineteenth century statesman called Capodistrias. He was prime minister of Greece, and wanted to introduce potatoes, as this would make it easier for the poorest farmers to feed themselves and their family.
    But the potatoes were viewed with suspicion and nobody tried them. So Capodistrias had them piled in a heap on the dockside, and guarded them with soldiers (who were under strict instructions not to fire their weapons!) Sure enough, all the potatoes were ‘stolen’, and the project was successful!

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s an interesting story, and not one I was familiar with. Thanks for sharing it.

      The same holds true with a “Wet Paint” sign. People can’t resist touching the paint just to make sure it really is wet.


  2. Can’t remember the name of the host, but in Minneapolis back in the mid-1950’s——Wait! I got it! “Axel and the Tree House”! I think he had a dog. Definitely a local show that came on just before The Mickey Mouse Club.

    Ah, those were innocent days 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, Linda. Some of those programs were pretty good. They also ran one in Tulsa called “The John Chick Show” that featured local musicians. It was a great opportunity for those folks to get exposure and possibly line up a few gigs.


  3. We must have had some but danged if I can remember any. Canadian TV sucked once upon a time.
    As for your story. That is a great dig at National Enquirer. The crap that comes out of that rag astounds me!
    Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now be honest, you had to watch Dudley Do-Right as a kid. I know it wasn’t a local program, but he and Snidely Whiplash put Canada on the map.

      One of my favorite National Enquirer stories is Hillary Clinton giving birth to an alien baby.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your National Enquirer must be the equivalent of our former News of the World. The World was the last thing it concerned itself with, unless the world was located in the bedrooms of the rich and famous. Which, come to think of it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are many other supermarket tabloids similar to the NE. I’m sure they have some where you live. I don’t know who buys them, but they have enough customers to keep it in print.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Generoso Pope Gayer,

    Curiosity killed the cat but an invisible box full of do not remove tags brought her back. Just for fun here’s a bit about kiddie shows in KC. Note, I have a copy of the documentary and one of the interviewee’s was our old friend Kent.

    Shalom and Riggy Diggy,

    Elmyra “Babs” W(T)F

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It was funny. We used to get three stations from Cleveland, Ohio as Akron didn’t have a TV studio in those days. On one children’s’ show, an older man used to have a dog he fed every show. He talked to the audience and pretended to take an elevator to where the dog was. He would bounce a bit to give the effect of the movement of the pretend elevator. I don’t remember all the things on the show but I do remember that and him opening the can of dog food. For some reason, those actions stuck with me. I suppose he showed cartoons on the show. 😀 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    Once again, Russell has treated us to two stories for the great price of free. If you enjoy these, you can read more by rising to the top, jogging to the left, and clicking on one or both of the book covers there. You can do even more by reblogging this post as I’ve done. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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Mandie Hines Author

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