Monday, April 30, 2012

A heartwarming tale about Winnipeg's Uncle Bob

Archie and Bob. The dummy's on the left. 

When I was a kid, there was no bigger star than Winnipeg children's entertainer "Uncle Bob."

Uncle Bob and his dummy "Archie Wood" hosted Archie and His Friends, a locally produced daily kids' show that ran from the 60s to the 80s on CTV. "The friends" were Tammy True (Archie in a wig), Grandpa Wood (ditto) and sock puppets Petite the dog and Marvin Mouse (some of whom now reside at the Manitoba Museum).

Also featured prominently: the good children of Winnipeg, who Bob would call on their birthday live from the show. I recall playing in the sandbox on my fifth or sixth birthday, when mom called me: "Kenton - Uncle Bob's on the phone!"
The conversation:

Uncle Bob: Happy birthday, Kenton.

Kenton: Uh-huh.

Uncle Bob: What are you up to?

Kenton: Sand.
Even better, Uncle Bob had a cottage in Sandy Hook, where I'd go visit my friend from time to time. We'd hop on bikes and drive past the place, which had an Elmer the Safety Elephant flag flying in the front yard. If we were lucky, we'd see Uncle Bob mowing the lawn.

On one occasion, my friend's brother even got to go boating with his dad and Uncle Bob himself. Once on the boat, the kid couldn't contain his enthusiasm:
Kid: Uncle Bob! Tell me about Archie Wood. Does he live in your house? Would he like to be my friend? Is he friends with Tammy True? Where's Marvin Mouse?
At this point, Bob had had a lifetime of kids asking him these questions. Plus, he'd been consuming some "tasty beverages."
Uncle Bob: Be quiet kid - and pass me a brown one.
The kid shut up, reached into the cooler, and passed Uncle Bob a beer - his dreams dashed, but with a larger lesson about the importance of consuming adult beverages and telling kids to shut their pie-holes imprinted forever on his mind. Elmer would be proud.

1 comment:

  1. That definitely sounds like Bob!

    I mentioned Uncle Bob's show in a couple of posts on local TV history. More than 25 years after he signed off, there are still almost-daily Google search hits for "Archie and his Friends Winnipeg" and "Uncle Bob CKY-TV". For kids growing up in Winnipeg in the '60s, '70s and '80s, he was a legend.

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