I fondly and distinctly remember myself in my pre-school years. I was glued to the television. The stories I was told were:
* I learned to read from the TV, because commercials back then featured close-ups of the product package, with the announcer saying the name.
* I preferred commercials to content. “You’d ride your trike in circles during the program, then stop and watch the commercials with rapt attention,” my mother told me.
But clearly I watched TV and listened to radio. I wanted to be a disc jockey, or a TV host in the manner of Jack Paar, Steve Allen or Art Linkletter. Which is to say my fantasy was that I was down in the audience, sticking a mic in people’s faces and asking them to talk on the “Pauli Schindler Show.”
I taped a string to a spoon, which I used for a microphone. Brooms were cameras, operated by my little brother Steve. It is tough to shoot a program with just one camera, but we managed it.
Apparently, I listened to the Stan Freberg Show (the last network comedy show) when I was five years old, because 14 years later, I stole from it in creating The New Eugene Oregon Show, at a time when those shows were not available in full.(I was also blessed with the opportunity to interview Freberg for an hour at his home for a profile in AdWeek).
I wrote a 140-page novel one summer on my mom’s Olympia portable. I was a self-taught typist, but still managed about 60 words a minute. The novel, Vernon Jones, Super-Scientific Detective was modeled after The Hardy Boys and my father’s collection of 40’s Tom Swift books. I had what I would later understand to be carpal tunnel syndrome from all those hours of typing, and wore my arm in a sling for six weeks that summer (probably about 1965). I later made the novel into a 10-part radio series on KBPS. No copy of the novel or the radio series exists. Personality wise, it shows my interest in writing and me obsessive nature.
I was apparently cute as a button, according to pictures: an average of three a year; the 1950’s were different times, two at Christmas and one on vacation (I have no idea what I looked like when I was just hanging around at home). I also had expert testimony on the subject from friends of the family. I was chubby, but not fat. I was a loquacious, precocious, curious young man who read early and never hid his light under a bushel. Even as a pre-schooler, it was said I lit up a room when I entered it.