The recent death of local cultural icon J. P. Patches has reminded me of other children’s TV shows I watched devotedly in the 1960s. Shari Lewis, Stan Boreson, Brakeman Bill, Captain Puget and Wunda Wunda were all entertaining and educational.
Wunda Wunda was the persona of Ruth Prins who was hired by Seattle’s KING-TV. She wore a harlequin’s clown outfit (adorable) and told a story on every episode. Back in the day, my mother was too busy with siblings and housework to take me to the local library. But I had Wunda Wunda who told stories and showed illustrations on-the-air. Later, we moved closer to a public library, and I knew all about libraries thanks to Wunda Wunda.
And Shari Lewis was much more than a puppeteer. She wrote several books. I discovered them in the 1980s while I scoured the library shelves for cub scout activities.
Books that were read on these shows provided great reading fun for the children who watched them, many of them rushing to their local libraries to find the books. History of Ruth Prin and her influence on the reading habits of young children can be found here http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=9355.
Books and material on these wonderful shows can still be found in libraries today, including my own library here at WSH where some of Stan Boreson’s and Shari Lewis’s material can be found on the shelf. The Washington State Library also carries a DVD, J.P. Patches Show and book J.P. Patches, Northwest Icon by Chris Wedes. Many people remember their childhood shows and the books that were read on them.