Friday, June 19, 2009

Rin Tin Tin (A Memory Of A Childhood 1950's Saturday Morning TV Show)

I am the type of person who’s mind can just wander with non-tangible eclectic thoughts like random snap shots going through a slide projector. During one of these moments, I remembered an old episode of Rin Tin Tin, a Saturday morning TV show on ABC. To put this in the perspective of the time frame, the television series ran from 1954 through 1959. It was at a period of time that the ultra conservatives were in control and the viewpoints were blatantly racist stereotypes.

To start with, let me give you the base of the story line. Rusty was orphaned in an Indian raid, (i.e. those heathen bastards killed that poor little white boy’s Mommy and Daddy). Rusty with his dog, Rin Tin Tin (everyone loves a boy and his dog; just look at Timmy and Lassie) were adopted by the troops at Fort Apache and helped establish law and order in and around Mesa Grande, AZ.

This one particular episode was that for the benifit of some visiting dignitaries, the solders from the local Calvary Fort that Rin Tin Tin and Rusty “B-Company” (the little boy’s name) lived at, were going to put on a reenactment show with the local Indian tribe. The reenactment was a gun fight battle that the Troops had originally won and everyone was supposed to use blank cartridges. Of course the Indians plotted to use real bullets and the solders from the fort would be defenseless. Ah! Not to worry because Rusty “B-Company” over heard and found out the evil Indians' plot but he and Rin Tin Tin had to hurry back to Fort Apache to warn Lt. Rip Masters (cool name) and the troops that they were in danger.

Well the reenactment had started and as far as the visiting dignitaries knew, the solders being shot and falling down was just part of the show. It was not until after several of the Fort’s troops were shot and killed by these scheming and not to be trusted Indians, did they realize that something was very wrong. Those men were really dying?!?!

Now just in time before all of the troops in the reenactment were doomed, the Calvary came charging in being lead by Lt. Rip Masters, Rusty, and Rin Tin Tin to save the day. After several Indians were killed, they turned tail and ran just like the cowards they really were.

The show ended back at Fort Apache recapping the story and laying praise on everyone for stopping the evil plan of the Indians. All's well that ends well and the camera goes to black with everyone laughing and smiling (with dog barking happily) to return next Saturday with a whole new episode foiling another evil scheming plan.



  1. "YO Rinny!!"

    I had no idea you were old enough to know about Rin Tin Tin. I had assumed only I was old and senile enough to wax nostalgic about the 50's TV shows.

    Yes, those were different times. Back then Custer was an American hero, not the genocidal arrogant asswipe that he actually was. And Amos and Andy were the "good Negroes" who made white people laugh at the stereotype they promulgated.

    Times were simpler then, more innocent, ...but hideously and blindly racist.


  2. Hello Hump,
    Yea, I'm that old too. Yes no need to show any of those Negros getting uppity. They could be shown on TV provided it was in the context of them knowing their place.

    You bring up a good point about Custer. I had written a piece for Muddy or Microdot how the religious fanatics in Turkey at the turn of the century just before WWI and the genocide of the Armenian population. This event was what Hitler considered when he chose to genocide the Jews. After all, no one seemed to protest when it was happened to the Armenians. After WWII when the remaining Nazis were asked how they passed the laws that led to the deportation of the Jews, their reply was the Jim Crow laws of our own Southern Region against the Negro population.

    I have been thinking about how all of the good religious folks at the time marched the Indian tribes from their homes in the east and those whom they did not just kill out right at Wounded Knee, they froze and starved to death on the rest of the relocation march. This was in the 1890’s when the U.S. Industrial Age was coming into its own and if you think about it, was not that long ago. The history books I had in school referred to this time as the American / Indian Wars……and we won!

    It happened once in this country, it can happen again if fanatical people gain too much power again. I think we could have come close again with the last administration.

  3. Man, you got a memory on ya.

    I was born in '53, so that show goes back to the dawn of my memory. I don't think I would be able to recall any particulars, though. I also remember Sky King and maybe a little later, Rocky and Bullwinkle.

    Thanks for the memories.

  4. Cheezopizza....
    Yes, American popular culture was built on stereotypes..I hav a collection of Harpers Magazines from the late 1800's and the humor is mainly Irish Jokes.
    Jewish humor of the early 20th century was as much inside jokes by Jewish comedians about themselves, which is a gift.
    When black humor, brave balck comedians bravely went where no man had gone before...the trail blaxing Richard Pryor, the results were devastating. Does anyone remember Richard Pryors short lived variety comedy series?
    I had an opportunity to see a few episodes on a dvd last year. His comedy troupe included a very young Robin Williams and Sandra Berhnardt.
    Brilliant stuff, there was a segment where Pryor played a white fat classic southern lawyer...he looked like Colonel Sanders...prosecuting a young black man for supposedly compromising the honor of a sluttly southern belle, played by Berhardt. The young northern lawyer defendiong the black man was Robin was cruelly and painfully hilarious, but absolutely brilliant.
    There is a point of course where the racial humor mixes with affection, we should not forget that.
    But, I agree that most of the Western fodder was revisionist history at its worst.

    And yes, I was young enough to remember Rin Tin Tin...I was born in 1950.
    Here in France, they are showing reruns of about stereo types of all kinds!

  5. Hello Mikeb,
    Thank you for the kind words. I have a good LONG term memory…..but ask me what I had for breakfast…..NOT A CLUE.

    Uncle Sky is another good one and not as racist as Rinny. He still had to be a cowboy but he flew most of the time and sometime rode a horse. He niece Penny, her brother Clipper going around stopping what ever crisis was happening at that time, provided it took a twin engine plane to make it happen. I remember running around the neighbor hood holding up the cheep plastic replica of the plane that came in the box of cereal. Of course I chose the cereal because of the toy but I ate it.

    As far as stimulating the memory, it was my pleasure. By the way, I was born in 53 also.

  6. Hello Microdot my friend.
    I vaguely remember Richard Pryor’s TV show but I had discovered questionable substances at this time also. Mork and Mindy is where I really remember Robin Williams on TV. I am sure my friends and I would be indulging and watching the show to kick it up a notch then later went out a bought Twinkies. (Much like, “That 70’s Show” with everyone in the basement……squinty eyes and all)

    Yes, Zorro was another good one. The Walt Disney group were pretty good at making the clueless, incompetent Mexican solders and the sleeping population under their sombreros as everyday life, while the dashing Zorro, who was really Don Diego de la Vega, made them all look like buffoons.

  7. I am theenking of Sargeant Garcia, Seenyor!
    I liked your comments above talking about the justifications the Nazis used for their persecution of the Jews.
    You are right, racism begets racism and thise who suffer it are liukely to inflict it on another's a syndrome like child abuse, it's insidious.
    Here in France the big issue that is obscuring anything of real importance, but taking up all the air time is a proposed law to ban the wearing of Burkhas by Islamic women in public....
    Pure racism because there aren't too many women who wear burkhas here, but the curious thing is that the women who do are not usually new immigrants, but young girls who are maybe 3rd generation immigrant families who have assimilated. It is a form of protest and social identity in a land that has marginalized them through institutional racism.
    To ban the behavior only draws attention to it.
    It's done for the racist extreme right in France. To appease them and keep the parties they represent powerless.

  8. Mike said: " I also remember Sky King and maybe a little later, Rocky and Bullwinkle."

    Ok..I have a confession to make. I regularly jerked off to Sky King's neice "Penny". That babe was HOT!!

    Not so with Rocky or bullwinkle, albeit, "Nell" from the Dudley Dooright cartoons was almost whackoff worthy.


  9. So, Hump, didn't think Natasha was hot? Or were you afraid that Fearless Leader was watching?

  10. Natasha just didn't ring my chimes.

    Besides, just thinking of being sloppy seconds behind Boris Badenough was enough to damen my ardor.