Whitehall-Coplay Press

Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Press photos by Debbie GalbraithMy sister, Donna Halley, meets her childhood idol, Gene London, at the Allentown Art Museum Nov. 9. Press photos by Debbie GalbraithMy sister, Donna Halley, meets her childhood idol, Gene London, at the Allentown Art Museum Nov. 9.
London dons his famous apron and shares stories of various stars he met while filming his show and later in Hollywood. London dons his famous apron and shares stories of various stars he met while filming his show and later in Hollywood.

Editor’s View

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 by The Press in Opinion

Meeting your childhood idol

Do you have a childhood idol? Someone you would like to meet?

My sister, Donna, has a childhood idol — Gene London, who was the host of the children’s show “Cartoon Corners” or “The Gene London Show.” It was based out of Philadelphia and was on WCAU-TV Channel 10 from 1959 to 1977.

During his show, London would tell stories and use a large drawing pad to illustrate key scenes and characters.

Then there was the theme song:

“Come right on in to the General Store,

We have licorice, gumdrops and sourballs;

Anything that you’re hankering for,

You’ll find in Cartoon Corners General Store.

There’s lots of stories and songs that you know,

Toys to build and a big pot belly stove;

Cartoon fun with your favorites so,

Let’s ring up the curtain on this show!

There’s something else I’ve forgotten, let’s see,

Of course, Gene London, that’s me!”

According to my mother, my sister would get all of her art supplies together before the “The Gene London Show” so she could draw along with him.

When my sister found out he would be speaking at the Allentown Art Museum, she was probably the first to get a ticket.

I don’t remember Gene London as well as my sister. I do remember his apron and his soft-spoken manner. My sister, and many of the people in the audience Nov. 9, remembered much more and definitely sang the theme song with London.

My sister said she got her appreciation of the arts from him. Another woman in the audience said the same and went on to have a career as an artist because of London.

London was the same sincere, caring persona everyone in the audience remembered from childhood years.

I was more of a Captain Kangaroo girl.

Captain Kangaroo was a children’s show that aired weekday mornings on CBS from 1955 through 1984. Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo, was also soft spoken and the perfect host for the show. I enjoyed the cast of characters including Mr. Green Jeans, Mr. Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose. As I recall, Mr. Bunny Rabbit was always tricking Captain Kangaroo into giving him more carrots and getting Mr. Moose in trouble, so perhaps that’s why I liked him so much.

Were they my childhood idols? No.

Every day after school, I would watch “I Love Lucy.” I loved how Lucy Ricardo, played by Lucille Ball, always got into various scrapes, and I’m certain I got my sense of humor and mannerisms from her.

Yes, I would have loved to meet her and tell her the influence she had on my life — always trying to have a sense of humor in sticky situations, but I’ve heard multiple times she was not the same person in real life as we saw her on television.

She is rumored to have been very tough and difficult to work with. I wonder if she had a sense of humor in real life or if that was just the writers on the show making her appear that way.

Perhaps it was best I never met her.

A woman we met in line to see Gene London is also a follower of Butch Patrick, who played Eddie Munster on “The Munsters.” She showed me a photo of the two of them that ran in the East Penn Press when he came to the Wheels of Time.

In London’s talk, he mentioned times were different back when his show was on television. That’s true. It was a simpler time.

I’m happy so many people were able to meet their idol Gene London during one of his many talks at the Allentown Art Museum.

For my sister, it was the thrill of a lifetime.

We texted our children after the presentation with photos of us meeting Gene London.

None of them knew who he was.

When my children’s children ask who they watched growing up, they can tell them, “A purple dinosaur named Barney.”

I wonder if my children would like to meet Barney.

Probably not.

Debbie Galbraith

editor

East Penn Press

Salisbury Press