Welcome to Way Back Wednesday, a new regular column at The Longfellow Bridge that focuses on the magic of the not-so-distant past of the 80s and 90s. Music, movies, video games, television shows and more are all fair game for the enjoyment of hindsight.
I had planned to begin with my thoughts on the 1986 BMX bike racing film Rad, but a funny thing happened between then and now. When we at The Longfellow Bridge were first discussing the idea of a regularly occurring nostalgia column, my head was immediately filled with toys, movies, books, and music that were very important to me on my way to adulthood. I actually made a list and eagerly reviewed it anticipating the enjoyment of writing each column. I had planned to begin with my thoughts on the 1986 BMX bike racing film Rad, but a funny thing happened between then and now. I remembered the WLVI Kids Club.
For those of you who are not from Boston or too young to have witnessed the WLVI Kids Club, here’s a quick overview: cartoons were shown on Channel 56 (UHF) weekday afternoons from 2-5:00, and between the cartoons and during commercial breaks there were quick, loosely educational sketches performed by hosts Paul Wagner and Elizabeth Dann. Paul Wagner is likely best known for his later work in a Papa Gino’s commercial:
Wagner and Dann’s interludes would often cover topics of general curiosity to children such as explaining why they wore glasses, to outright knowledge-laying as Elizabeth is happy to do here:
One memory of the WLVI Kids Club is the actual, honest-to-goodness joinable club itself.My memories of the WLVI Kids Club is very specifically limited to two things: several of the interludes, and the actual, honest-to-goodness joinable club itself. After waiting for what seemed to be an exorbitant amount of time for my membership package, I was a proud card-carrying member. My four cousins, who were of course all members, and myself decided that the best part of said membership package was a coupon to get a goldfish starter kit (including a goldfish) for a cent from PJ’s Pets, a now-defunct New England Chain. Rereading what I just wrote, I find myself suddenly feeling very old.
Long story short, of the nickel’s worth of goldfish we purchased, the longest lasting survived to be about a week old. If I cared to, I could argue for it being a metaphor for us briefly belonging to some silly club we were probably too old for anyway, but I won’t. At the end of the day, like most childhood interests, it was a passing fancy and way to kill a little time during Summer vacation.
Perhaps most interesting of all to me is that I cannot remember a single cartoon in the daily lineup. Just the club itself. Realizing this makes me feel slightly melancholic that today’s children don’t have something simultaneously so silly and magical as one cent goldfish.What takes you Way Back? Tell us on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below. #WayBackWed