All Is Forgiven But Not Forgotten

Lesson: Romper Room's Miss Nancy Has Passed On, Leaving Some Fans A Resented But Possibly Useful Legacy.

April 26, 1997|By Arthur Hirsch | Arthur Hirsch,SUN STAFF

All right, Miss Nancy, all is forgiven. It is hard, but we owe you that on this sad day. We mourn your passing. We thank you for the good times. And we forgive, even if we don't forget.

With all due respect, that would be impossible.

All those childhood hours watching "Romper Room." All that time sitting through the Do-Bees and the Don't-Bees and Mr. Music and the blessing of the milk-and-cookies and the rest of the shenanigans. For what? For the moment. The moment when you would pick up the Magic Mirror, do the "Romper stomper bomper boo" incantation and look straight through it right at me. And somehow never see me.

"I see Tommy and Jimmy and Mary and Betty and Patrick and Susie and Alice and Peter and . . ."

What a nightmare. Sitting there week after week through a zillion kids. All the Eddies and Freddies and Stevies and Davids. A million Tommys and a million Timmys and 2 million Johnnys.

But not one Arthur. How hard would that have been? Two syllables, no big deal. It's not as if somebody's asking you to see Zelig or Artemus or Octavia or Brunhilda. Just plain old Arthur.

Not once in all the years. It was enough to make a kid wanna press his face up to the screen and scream.

"WHAT, WHAT? WHAT AM I, CHOPPED LIVER HERE? HELLO, LADY? HELLO?"

"I see Sammy and Lewis and Emily and "

"WHO ARE THESE KIDS, ANYWAY?? WHAT IS IT? DO THEY KNOW PEOPLE? SOMEBODY HAS AN IN WITH MR. MUSIC? WE HAVE TO SLIP YOU AN ENVELOPE?"

It wasn't supposed to be educational TV, but it was. A weekly lesson on limited possibilities, an early farewell to the Age of Innocence. Suddenly life was not fair. Some people are seen, others not. Sometimes a woman will look you in the eyes and say another guy's name.

Bozo and all the other kiddie hosts told us happy lies. You administered a daily reality check, our first real look in the mirror.

Grow up, grow up, you seemed to say. We can thank you for that, Miss Nancy, all of us Magic Mirror Rejects. We'll be Do-Bees and forgive, all of us joining hands and saying a big hello to Mr. Closure.

Pub Date: 4/26/97

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