Moose and Squirrel by
200
(303 Stories)

Prompted By Cartoons

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Stroke, stroke, bail…bail..bail…bail! If only you could hear my accent. Moose and Squirrel, Boris and Natasha (did anyone else see her resemblance to the original Barbie?), Dudley Do-Right, Mr Peabody and his boy Sherman. My brother and I loved them all, and reveled in the silliness of the Cold War cartoons with our heroes always defeating the sinister Mr. Big and the witless Soviet spies, the clueless Canadian Mountie who somehow always got his man, and the super-intelligent dog and his Way-Back machine, where we learned some form of history. Bigger than a breadbox, smaller than Texas; it must be Mount Flatten! It was a half hour of bliss within the format of a fractured fairy tale and we felt we were very sophisticated to “get” it.

We couldn’t wait for the cartoon to come on, gladly putting aside any homework, music practice, anything else on our schedules. It was Must-See TV in our household. Later in life, I bought several compilations on VHS format and my kids loved it as much as I had; second generation confirmation of good taste. My younger child, now 27, was saddened when those tapes were ruined two years ago in a massive flood, as they are no longer available in any format. How will we now pass it along for future generations? These days seem ripe for such inspired, clever nonsense.

At a younger age, my brother and I also loved the Disney full-length animated feature films. My first film was Fantasia, my brother’s was Peter Pan, but we both loved CinderellaSleeping Beauty, Dumbo. BambiSnow White was before our time, but we saw it when it was re-released. The animation of all of these remains stunning and the music is still singable. I can probably sing all of it right now (of course Disney got help from Tchaikovsky for Sleeping Beauty, but it worked). He was also the master of making the beautiful into the nightmare – he turned out some really scary sequences in all those movies and had us young ones diving for the covers for weeks after seeing those films.

In 1970, just before my brother headed to Israel for two years, Fantasia was re-released and my super-straight brother and I went to see it again. He didn’t know that the hippies had discovered this was a great movie to trip out to and was bewildered by the crowd that showed up at our local theater that evening. I was just amused. The music and animation remain superb; stunning, swirling sequences. One wonders what the animators were high on while imagining those episodes, so long ago.

My brother and I had the worst fight of our lives when he was 8 and I was 3 over a Disney-inspired moment. We had a window seat in our wood-paneled den in Detroit. We each liked to use it as a space on which to play. I was doing a little production with my dolls when he, being much larger, pushed me aside to use it as a desk. He was re-creating a Cinderella ad on a pad of white paper. I tried to shove him back to get my space back, but was unsuccessful. With anger and deliberation, I marched behind him and bit him where I could reach him…on the butt cheeks! He howled in pain. I got my performance space back for a millisecond until our mother showed up and sent me to my room for an hour. Cinderella triumphed. I sulked. My brother and I both got over it and remain the best of friends and both Disney loyalists forever.

 

Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.


Tags: Rocky & Bullwinkle, DIsney musical cartoons, my brother
Characterizations: been there, funny, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. John Zussman says:

    Totally agree about Rocky & Bullwinkle—not only smart, witty, and funny but subversive as well. (I might have written about that show myself, but you nailed it.) I don’t recall being scared by Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella but Bambi, yeah. That forest fire gave me nightmares too.

    As for Fantasia, the only sequence I really remember is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Truly a masterpiece. These are great memories—thanks for sharing.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      John, in Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent turned into a fire-breathing dragon to fight off the Prince…scared the crap out of me. Fantasia had various segments of classical music (Night on Bald Mountain, various movements from the Nutcracker Suite, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue), with various forms of animation including waltzing hippos, flowers and bubbles…all sorts of trippy stuff that the stoners loved!

  2. Thanks so much for the reminder of these great cartoons. Talk about scared… for some reason the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show scared me. Maybe it was the Cold War, the threat of the USSR, represented by Boris and Natasha. But as an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed the VHS tapes of the shows. So smart, clever, and funny! I loved all the Disney animated features, too. Especially Peter Pan… not a big surprise to those who know me. I have them all on blu-ray. I was a big fan of Mickey and Donald cartoons, too. I’m dismayed to learn that Rocky and Bullwinkle are no longer available. Your piece here brings up so many good memories! Thanks, Betsy!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      I know how you love Peter Pan, Steve! Funny that the Rocky and Bullwinkle show affected you so much as a child. Glad you could appreciate it as an adult. The lepers in Ben Hur scared the bejesus out of me, when I first saw the movie as a child. I forced myself to watch the sequence as an adult and it isn’t really scary at all; more sinister and forbidding. Movies really do manipulate us emotionally.

  3. I just checked on Amazon, and The Rocky and Bullwinkle shows are available on DVD: the complete series, as well as individual seasons!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thanks for fact-checking me, Steve. I haven’t checked in years. I’m sure Vicki will be pleased to hear this. I bought those old VHS tapes to keep the kids amused when went “over the river and through the woods” to the grandparents for Thanksgiving when the kids were little. I had to open them early when David got chicken pocks (in second grade!) everywhere – even in his throat and we were up all night together for many nights! Amazon does have everything these days! Though many of us are less than happy to buy things there, since they sell Trump products!

  4. rosie says:

    Betsy,

    You wrote ver beautifully and with enthusiasm about my favorite cartoons.
    My brother was older and I bit him one time because I couldn’t go with him to Hebrew School. We had a feisty childhood but also remain on pretty good terms. I really enjoyed the energy and organization of this bit as well.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thanks, Rosie. Funny that you wanted to follow your brother to Hebrew School! I shadowed my brother too, but that was the only time physical violence was on the agenda. He was (and still is) much older, but is a gentle soul. I pestered him a lot when I was a kid, but we have always been good friends, once I grew out of the braces and pig-tails phase.

  5. rosie says:

    I used to wait for him to come home , right by the window which was a 90 degree angle from the door. I think I have an idea for a possible prompt, “Brothers and Sisters growing up together and their adventures”

  6. Patricia says:

    The reason Rocky and Bullwinkle was so wonderful and so subversive is the same reason South Park works—writers can put all kinds of things in the mouths of cartoon characters that a real character wouldn’t be allowed to say. I loved it too, it was a huge influence on me.

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