By Stacy Yuen Hernandez
Honolulu freelance writer
Most young adults who grew up in Hawaii remember the childrens TV program "Checkers & Pogo," and many of them even had a chance to be on the show. I longed to be on "Checkers & Pogo," thinking I could scoop more pennies out of that jar than any other kid, but my mom didnt seem too excited about me pounding my feet on the bleachers with a bunch of unruly kids. Instead, she signed me up to be one of the kids on "Romper Room," a syndicated television program sold like a franchise in major cities.
To this day, I dont know the details of how I ended up on "Romper Room" twice. I vaguely recall it was in 1970 when I was 5 years old. My mom drove me down to the KHON studios where it was taped. I remember worrying about the "making music" segment of the show. I didnt want to end up with any instrument that had to be blown. Even then I was a hypochondriac. I was relieved that I got the tambourine and wouldnt catch a disease by having to blow any germy wind instrument.
We sang songs and played games. The Punch Ball was one of my favorites. It was a large, thick balloon with a heavy-duty rubber band-type handle, and you would punch the big balloon. Of course, since it was attached to a rubber band, it would come back for more. Then there was the blow-up clown that you would punch. He had some sort of weight in him, so he would keep coming back for more, too.
Not all of the "Romper Room" toys had to do with punching, though. There was the Posture Basket, a simple plastic basket that you would place on your head while walking to encourage good posture.
I somehow knew this activity was a good thing, with my mom always threatening my sister and me that if we didnt act like ladies, she would send us to Sears Charm School. Heaven forbid, we would have to spend our summer in Charm School! Thank goodness for the posture basket.
Funny thing is that each of these "Romper Room" toys would be associated with a song. In fact, every activity on "Romper Room" was associated with a song.
I loved making music and singing with Miss Robin and the other "Romper Room" kids, but the best part was the Twinkies. At the end of the show, we would all sit down on a long table and eat Hostess cakes with milk while we built things with construction blocks.
"What are YOU building, Stacy?" Miss Robin asked. "Im building a condominium," I replied. I didnt think it was an unusual response for a 5-year-old since my grandparents lived in one, but Miss Robin chuckled.
"Romper Room" was a positive experience for me and one that I fondly recall as a part of my wonder years.
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