By Steve Cichonsteve@buffalostories.com@stevebuffalo
The essence of Buffalo Stories is defining and celebrating the people, places, and things that make Buffalo… Buffalo.
That’s Buffalo’s pop culture heritage-– and that’s what you’ll find as you scroll through these stories or search the collected works of one of WNY’s most prolific pop culture historians of the last decade for something specific…
As I write this, I wonder how much of my bizarre personality can be attributed to the late great Ernie Coombs, known to Canadian Children (and those like me just over the border) as Mr. Dressup.
The daily half hour filled with drawing, creating cool stuff out of things that I had laying around the house, Dressing up in costumes, and using funny voices always set my imagination into motion.
This is me at the CBC museum… Just inches away from the tickle truck. My wife and I were also able to visit Mr. Dressup’s drawing easel, and Casey’s tree house (as well as The Friendly Giant’s castle).
Mr. Dressup was a 10:30 appointment for most of my childhood. My brother Greg and I would stop fighting the moment we heard the piano open on the show (this picture is of us Xmas ’79).
And we’d sit together on a big chair and be quiet for the half hour. My sister Lynne soon joined our love for Mr. Dressup too.
In true Mr. Dressup fashion, the Cichon kids made our very own Tickle trunk… We drew flowers on an empty beer case box, and stored our dress up gear in it. It seemed that just about every other day, the show ended with either Mr. Dressup or Casey asking about lunch… which then made us start bothering my mom about lunch, too.
Included here are some stills from the Mr. Dressup special that aired on CBC after his death in 2001, as well as some from a Casey and Finnegan episode that I taped in the late 80s or early 90s.
I’m glad that even after his death Mr. Dressup lives on every day on TV (even if without Casey and Finnegan.) It’s the finest kids show I’ve ever seen. It’s fun and spurs kids to be creative and think… without being preachy.
Featuring over 2 dozen current and vintage Buffalo Television logos, this fundraiser for the Buffalo Broadcasters and the Preservation of Buffalo Television History was made possible through the cooperation of Buffalo’s Television stations, The Buffalo Broadcast Pioneers, and staffannouncer.com.
A great way to celebrate 60 years of Buffalo Television History, and help save it at the same time.
This 11×17 poster is printed in full-color on archival heavy 80lb gloss stock, and will be delivered in a mailing tube.
BUFFALO, NY – Back in 2005, I was tickled to be able to speak with Bobby Ash over the telephone… known to a generation of Canadians (and kids just over the border like me) as Uncle Bobby.
In the few minutes of the interview you can listen to here, Uncle Bobby gives background on how and why Bimbo the Birthday Clown started and then begat Mr. and Mrs. Happy and son of Happy, the dancing birthday creatures.
He also details many of the other characters who were a part of the show, and though his memory for some of the details is fading a bit– nothing beats Uncle Bobby sharing the names of some of his old friends from our childhood.
Among Uncle Bobby’s human pals were Alex Laurier, who played guitar on the show, Meredith Cutting, “the Singing Policeman;” Cy Leonard, “the ventriloquist;” Ron Leonard, “the magician;” Traffic Officer John, who gave the children tips about road safety. Nancy McCaig played accordion, and Barry McKay was a drawer of birds, animals and other things. Ruth Winkler sculpted plasticine models and told stories that went along with what she was modelling.
Some clips from The Uncle Bobby Show….
After talking to Uncle Bobby on the telephone, he sent me the following letter:
With that letter came these stills from Uncle Bobby himself, sent along so that all the boys and girls can remember and enjoy…
From a syndication Advertisement:
Born in a Staffordshire Theatre, brought up in the “pirate” circuses of Britain and steeped in the rich traditions of the theatre — Bobby Ash naturally steps into his role as the show’s active, animated host. Children love him, and give THE UNCLE BOBBY SHOW top priority on their viewing schedules.
The Uncle Bobby Show.
A Treat of Fun and Fancy.
Distributed by Glen-Warren Productions, Limited.
The Bimbo Story
Birthday announcements were a popular feature on the Uncle Bobby Show, and somewhere along the way, Bimbo the Birthday Clown made his first appearance. Though he was first made of cardboard, soon a wooden backing was added, then wheels, moving eyes, and of course the Happy Crew then came along: Mr. & Mrs. Happy, and Son of Happy.
My Uncle Bobby memories…
I can remember getting up very early, getting an apple out of the fridge, turning on my pre-cable TV, and watching the mystical Uncle Bobby Show… I think made even more mysterious by the melodious BIMBO BIMBO EVERYBODY BIMBO chant… And, of course, Uncle Bobby’s accent. I think the only other person I would have known with a British Accent at that point in my life would have been my Great Grandfather…. And now that I think about it, as a very young sprat, I may have thought that Uncle Bobby was my great Grandpa.
More from The Uncle Bobby Show…
This page, originally at my first website staffannouncer.com, was the first place where you could find any information about The Uncle Bobby Show on the Internet back in 2003.
So many years later, many people have sent photos and videos to share… here are just a few.
Just unearthed! Recordings of entire days of WBEN Radio… Unheard since the days they were broadcast over 35 years ago! Names like Clint Buehlman, Van Miller and the NBA Buffalo Braves! Read on!
So where did these tapes come from? In 1995, Lin Television performed a massive cleanout of the 2077 Elmwood Avenue building they had just purchased as a part of their buying WIVB-TV.
Among the “treasures” I found dumpster diving, was a box of Reel-to-Rel tapes that appeared to be WBEN Radio Logger tapes from the early 70s. Many of the reels were blank… But even those with the audio intact were nearly useless… The tapes were recorded at 15/32 IPS. That is very slow, and at the time the tapes were rescued, the only way to hear the tapes properly involved about 4 hours of work for an hour of final product. For 13 years, I’ve been trying to figure out how to play these tapes back… And now… thanks to a new reel deck.. and some new digital audio editing programs, viola!
The audio quality is not the best… Its warbly sometimes… And it jumps quite a bit… And These logger tapes were in the Engineering Shop because there were problems with the recording…. But what is really amazing. Imagine your grandparents listening to WBEN all day… That’s what you get here. Things were slow to change at WBEN. Clint Buehlman’s Show in 1973 was not really all that different from the show in 1953. Van Miller is in great voice and cadence calling Buffalo Braves basketball. As far as I know, these are the only complete recordings of Braves basketball in tact.
Below, you’ll find exactly what and who is on these tapes… and some brief cuts from each.
One of the most often asked questions to this website is, “What was the name of Clint Buehlman’s theme song?” The answer is, there were dozens of light airy instrumentals that were used to open each hour of the Buehlman show, after newsman Jack Ogilvie introduced Your AM-MC after each newscast. Listen below for several such opens, along with other snippets from the Buehly.
Buffalo Braves Basketball
Another of those popular questions is Do you have any Braves Games? Apparently, the answer has been yes for quite a long time… only they’ve been stuck on tapes I couldn’t play. But now, I have at least three Braves games in their entirety.
Braves vs Lakers: December 19, 1973
Kareem Abdul Jabbar visits Memorial Auditorium
Braves vs Bucks: February 2, 1973
Wilt Chamberlain visits Memorial Auditorium
Some Highlights from WBEN Friday December 28, 1973
It was the Bicentennial Summer of 1976– And as the nation was celebrating America’s 200th Birthday with all kinds of fife and drum music, here in Buffalo, the NBA Buffalo Braves were being musically celebrated all over the Buffalo radio dial with the McAdoo Song.
It’s a goofy song all about Braves Forward Bob McAdoo, who was 1973 NBA Rookie of the Year and 1975 NBA MVP.
The best part about the song is the singer– it was sung by Big Mac’s Teammate, Buffalo State College Grad Randy Smith.
By all accounts, I have a pretty cool and interesting job. I spend my day wandering the Niagara Frontier talking to Newsmakers and regular people, often finding myself in the midst of the announcements and events that shape the lives of WNYers…
It sounds glamorous, but sometimes the important assignments can leave a reporter ragged… Like the night I slept in the car outside the State Police Barracks in Fredonia at the height of the Ralph “Bucky” Phillips hunt… Or the 5 days without a shower (!) covering Hurricane Katrina down in Louisiana.
I’m not looking for sympathy here… I’m just lamenting the fact that no one, on any story I’ve ever been on, looked as “Movie-Star Cool” as WKBW Radio News Director Jim McLaughlin did in this 1971 picture taken at the height of the Attica Prison Riot. His tie know slightly ascue, curly locks ever-so tussled, and the caption decribes him as “with cigar.” (Not to mention the extra cigars in the breast pocket.)
Chances are, no matter the era, that I’d never look that cool doing my job (OK, you’re probably right… Never look cool period.) Though I might have been smoking a cigar, I’d probably be standing there Like WKBW’s Jim Fagan or Bob Buyer from the Buffalo Evening News… Just as weary, but without the panache. Even given that I know I wouldn’t have been the cool Perry White style reporter….. It still would have been great to work side-by-side with Jim McLaughlin (with cigar).
I’ve been working on a few special projects over the past few days… First… You can see it be clicking on the link…
You’ll see this video looped along with a big display I put together on the Santa Show at Fairgrounds for thier Christmas Show…
I’ve also spent some time putting together props to help a build an 80’s radio studio for a movie being shot here in Buffalo. They’re using the old Ward Beck Board from the WBEN Newsbooth as used from 1975-2000 at the Elmwood Ave Studios, along with some other 2077 Elmwood remnants and assorted other junk from my attic. The Carts are the sound effect carts of the great John Otto, and I’ve owned the cart machines since I was about 9 years old.
As far as web content, I’m working on a Crystal Beach page, and a some Buffalo History pictures… As appeared in the 50th and 100th Anniversary of the Buffalo Evening News Periodicals. I’m also trying to finish the renovation of the dining room in my 1909 EB Green home by the time the holidays roll around… Its been busy!