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Local icons thing of TV past

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Lately I have been hanging out with my pal Bob Glaze, a name which probably does not ring a bell, until I throw in the extra added attraction: Bob Glaze, also known as Cowboy Bob, longtime host of “Cowboy Bob’s Corral” on WTTV-Channel 4.

For a large segment of the central Indiana population, Cowboy Bob was The Man in the ’70s. Talk about must-see TV: Get yourself a tray, have Mom set it up with a PBJ and a glass of milk, warm up the Zenith and get set for big noontime kid fun.

Bob, whether in his civilian guise or his Cowboy Bob persona, is a hoot. Then again, you should expect no less from a man who spent much of his career with a biscuit for a sidekick. OK, maybe you had to be there. Anyway, it’s nice to report he is essentially the same guy he was when he was telling the kids to take their naps after the show was over.

Now, I was too old (and lived too far away) to be a kidhood Cowboy Bob fan. During the time I did live in Indianapolis as a kid, I was a Harlow Hickenlooper (Channel 6) and Bill Jackson (Channel 13) guy, while my brother was getting all moony nursing a mad crush on Janie (Channel 4 again).

And this gets me to what Bob and I invariably end up talking about – something I call the death of local.

It’s not just kiddie shows on TV, either, or even local talk or movie shows. Remember Jim Gerard? He goes to my church, and he is just as delightful as his TV fans always said. And who among middle-state Hoosier kids did not hide behind a sofa pillow when Sammy Terry came on with “Nightmare Theater”? Or, in some cases, hide behind the entire sofa, speaking again of my brother.

But the death of local goes way further than just TV. During the Golden Age of Kidhood, the diet of a central Indiana youngster likely revolved around Marhoefer wieners, Chesty potato chips and Stark and Wetzel bacon, purchased at a Standard Grocery with money your parents kept in an account at American Fletcher National Bank. If you scraped your knee, your Mom painted it with merthiolate she bought at Hook’s Drugs. And then you would spend a half-hour blowing on it to stop the burning, with breath you got from the local air.

Afterward, if you behaved yourself, the family might get to go to the Tee Pee restaurant for dinner, although it had to be early because Dad didn’t want to be there when all the teenagers started rolling in with their loud cars and their Ricky Nelson music.

You get the picture. Local.

It isn’t that the products and places I mention were better than what we have today, although in many cases that’s true. More important, they were ours. They gave us identity, a sense of place that you just can’t get from another chain pizza outlet or cheesecake assembly line just like the ones in Kansas City and Cleveland and Springfield.

Maybe that’s why Bob and I get onto this subject so much … so that by talking about the death of local, we actually keep local alive in a small way.

Although it’s no substitute for a bag of Chesty potato chips.

Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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