When I was a kid growing up in Fremont, California, before my family moved to Eugene, Oregon, in 1979, I was a regular watcher of Pat McCormick's kids show on KTVU. They had a game on one of the shows in which kids, picked by sending in postcards, would yell out "pow!" to trigger a video game to release an item that would hit another item. One day, I think March 1979, Pat called! I won!
I'd forgotten all about this until reading this article in today's New York Times. If I remember this correctly -- and my dad reads my blog, so he'll advise me if the grey cells are misfiring -- in spring 1979, my dad was living in Eugene, starting a life up there for us, where my mom, sister, and me would join him when school was out. One of his early jobs? Selling cable TV door to door. That's what he did for us. Unfortunately, we moved to Oregon just as the recession was hitting and just before Silicon Valley hit in Fremont.
The day Pat called, I was in the right place: watching his show. They prepped me on the phone. I said "pow!" at the appropriate intervals and got a high score. I wasn't yet an inveterate video game player (and never was, really), but I was a quick study and figured out how to say "pow!" just in advance to hit the targets.
What did I win? An automated Viewmaster that you could put those circular film-bearing cartridges in and have it project them! What advanced technology. I had no use for this thing and we sold it at a garage sale when I moved. Better, though, were free tickets to Marine World USA to which I took a friend. I think that the tickets might have been just for two kids, though, which is the way that kind of thing works: my mom (and dad?) had to pay for their own admission? (Help me out here, pa.)
It's ironic that I'm remembering seeing dolphins and orcas in captivity tonight since I just saw them cavorting in the wild a few days ago. One of the nights on the cruise that Lynn and I took, we were standing on our balcony after midnight watching the remains of the day fade, and as our ship sailed rapidly along, we could see small pods of what I am sure were immature orcas. They had the right colors, and they swam rapidly alongside, leapt in the air, and were quickly lost to sight.
Brain Cells: Powww! My dad read the above and emailed me the following, which I post with his permission. I have no recollection of any of this, and neither does your mom. I know I didn't go to Marine World, and she doesn't recall it either. Someone must have taken you, and maybe it was your friend's parent(s). Whatever you said on your blog stands unchallenged, since you're the only one remembering it at all. Later, he added, Mom now seems to vaguely remember going to Marine World, and has a recollection of a small, stuffed whale that possibly you won or bought there (an orca, black/white one). We're now in the same universe, as I'd forgotten until this latest email that I did have a stuffed orca (I think I bought it?) for several years until I accidentally grew up, I think, and ditched the animals.