It’s time to Put Another Candle on the Birthday Cake and Laugh and Be Happy!

Do you remember Sheriff John? If you were a young child between 1952 and 1970 you might!  I liked Engineer Bill, too, but he had a “red light, green light” game with milk. I didn’t like milk (still don’t) so I wouldn’t play along. Sheriff John’s Lunch Brigade was more my flavor.

It’s almost impossible to remember a time when children’s programming included a brief non-denominational prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance along with safety and health instruction before cartoons!

Sheriff John Rovick passed away this weekend at 93 years old. I remember very little about the show itself, but I have never forgotten the Birthday Polka, or his other signature song, Laugh and Be Happy. I still sing both!

This was Jay’s birthday weekend and perhaps eerily apropos it started with a “circle of life” event.

In the wee hours of Friday morning we were startled awake with the sounds of a strange, wild animal coming from our backyard. Occasionally our waterfall and stream attracts small animals, particularly in extreme heat. We rarely observe the action, but this time, judging from what we heard–and smelled, our best guess is that a raccoon rumbled with a skunk.

Then ate the fish!  Not prized koi–just goldfish. But they were two years old and I was rather fond of them.

All gone–and the water lilies and lotus completely shredded!

But what did Sheriff John sing? “Laugh and be happy?” Sure, why not!

We joined daughter Aimee and our son-in-law Anthony at California Disney–without children. I did miss them. But this was an adult evening, so off we went. Disneyland was closing early for special Halloween events and our main interest was people watching, music and dinner, so we wandered around California Adventure Park, enjoying a still-summer evening!

I think the time spent was a good way for the birthday boy to feel young at heart!

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In memory of Sheriff John–Laugh and be happy!

59 thoughts on “It’s time to Put Another Candle on the Birthday Cake and Laugh and Be Happy!

  1. Wow! You covered a lot of ground with this post, Debra.

    I don’t remember ever seeing that show . . . but the song still made me smile. Happy Birthday to Jay ~ “put another candle in his birthday cake.”
    Sorry about the goldfish taken as POW’s.
    Your slideshow looked like a FUN evening. 😀

    1. I think I’m discovering that good old Sheriff John must have been a local television celeb! It was very early television, and he was kind of a big deal. But apparently not nationwide! He had the most positive messages for children, but that was a very different time. And our little fish lived a good long life. Two years for a goldfish is a good life, I hope! 🙂

  2. No Sheriff John from my memory, so I figure he was a local or regional personality – which was the trend in those days. Nonetheless, Happy Birthday to Jay from Cincinnati!

    Thanks for the pics, but bummer news on your fish. 😦

    1. I think you must be right, Frank! It didn’t occur to me that Sheriff John was local, since he was such a big celebrity. But this was in the days of very early television, so I suppose that’s correct. Did you know Engineer Bill? Chucko the Clown? Surely you knew Captain Kangaroo? Oh my! I need to do my homework next time. I think I was so sorry to hear of Sheriff John’s passing I just jumped right in. Thank you for the birthday greetings. It was a nice weekend. I hope you had a good one, too!

      1. Of those in the list, Capt Kangaroo was surely national. Others don’t ring a bell. Nonetheless, losing local legends is always sad. As for my weekend, it’s in my current post. 🙂

  3. I don’t remember Sheriff John, Debra, and wonder if he was a west coast show. I think I would have liked that show. You’ve given a nice tribute to him.

    Oh my! Skunks can be quite a problem. We experienced them, often, at our first house, and what a shame for your plants. You are taking this with good humor. I’m sure your evening at Disney helped. Happy Birthday to Jay. What a fun way to spend an evening.

    1. Yes, Penny, I’m learning from others that Sheriff John must have been local. I was very young, as was television, and it really didn’t occur to me that everyone didn’t have the pleasure! I truly forgot that early television was much more regional. He was a very “big deal” here, as a pioneer of children’s programming, with such a simple, positive message. I think in his own way he was a little like Mr. Rogers. And I’ll tell you one reason I wasn’t more upset with the fish and plants being so unfortunately “eaten”–the sound in the night was so frightening I was really worried that “something” had attacked the bunny! I was so relieved to find that not true, I was better prepared for losing the fish. I won’t be restocking any time too soon, that’s for certain! 🙂

  4. Do Jay and I have the same birthday? (Mine was Saturday.) I do remember Sheriff John… but then I am a California native too. Your news of his passing over the weekend (I heard it from you first) was very sad for me as well. We’re all getting older…

    1. I’m so glad to have someone else remember Sheriff John. A local morning radio host I listen to each day loved him and mentioned him from time to time so I knew he was still living. Those were certainly simple times in children’s programming, weren’t they?

      Jay’s birthday was Friday! I hope you had a very happy birthday, Lori, and did you race today? I hope that was both a good run and fun as well…or maybe a race isn’t as much fun as it is satisfying! 🙂 Your previous photos of crossing the finish line did look like you were having fun, though! We are indeed getting older every day, but we seen to have pastimes that are nourishing don’t we? I think we’re doing our best to push age off into the corner. 🙂

  5. Sheriff John wasn’t known in these parts — that is unless I donned by 10 quart hat, 6 shooters, and strolled about the house, Ma’am. We watched PoopDeck Paul and Captain Jolly until we graduated to Soupy Sales. 🙂
    I hope Jay had a great birthday and well he should, having spent it at the “happiest place on earth.” I know I would have loved it!

    1. I love hearing about the personalities that entertained children in other regions, John. PoopDeck Paul and Captain Jolly! What great names. Soupy Sales was certainly national, but my mom really didn’t like him! He was still on the air when my own children were young! I really didn’t even consider for one moment that everyone didn’t know beloved Sheriff John. I reverted to about five years old for a moment, where everything “I” experience is what everyone else experiences. 🙂 Jay did have a nice birthday and we need to have fun like kids, because these birthdays do seem to come faster every year! Whew! Thank you so much.

  6. Of course I remember Sheriff John…and fondly. He even pronounced my name right on either my fifth or sixth birthday. Man, was I jazzed! I can’t recall, though, if my dad sent in the letter or not, though, but we were taught to write early. Believe it or not, I send a similar clip to some of my friends on their birthdays.

    And Engineer Bill… Shame on you for not drinking your milk! I’ll always remember his hat.

    I am sad to hear of his passing. Same age as dad.

    Remember Tom Hatten and Popeye? Chris Craft? I was on that show…

    Great post!

    1. I am so glad you remember Sheriff John! I felt so badly that I didn’t even consider that he wasn’t a national presence. He figured in so prominently into my childhood. Ah well! I liked Tom Hatten a lot. He was great with those squiggles wasn’t he? It must have been very exciting to have participated in children’s programming. At the time, these people were bigger than life to us! Our first celebrities, I think. I was sad to hear of Sheriff John’s passing, too. When I really thought about him and weighed the memories I was recalling, though, I was amazed at what a long life he’d lived. Like your father, the span of life is so impressive and meaningful when we know they have lived honorably. I heard a radio personality talking this morning about that, and I couldn’t agree more!

    1. Thank you so much for the birthday wishes. They roll around so quickly, don’t they! 🙂 But it is lovely to celebrate good health and energy, and not to focus on the calendar date! I hope you (the two of you) have a wonderful week. D

  7. Happy Birthday to Jay! And yikes, not fun that your fish became dinner. We have one goldfish named Finny (hehe) and I am very fond of him. Thankfully he is inside the house away from raccoon and cats who visit us.

    1. Thank you for birthday wishes for Jay, Marie. Yes, the missing goldfish were a bit upsetting! We’d had them for at least two years, maybe more. They had originally been little pet shop fish, but they were about seven or eight inches long, and had over-wintered successfully! To think of them as dinner was very upsetting! The lilies serve as protection and we were confident they were safe. I have no photos to show you of how beautiful the lilies had been, but they covered the entire basin of the pond and are now shredded to nothing much. The wild animals have to live, too, so I suppose their survival instinct is what I need to think about! I’m glad you Finny is safe. Great name! 🙂

    1. Yes, Sheriff John would say a little blessing before we all ate our peanut butter sandwiches together! I don’t think that happened on any other television and it may have only been in the very early years when I was watching. I can’t believe that would have survived all the way into the 70s! There are times when I really do think my childhood took place in a prehistoric era! 🙂

  8. I think cartoons and children’s programs back then were so much better for kids than the rubbish they put out these days. Happy birthday to Jay and how wonderful to be able to go to Disneyland. It’s been a dream of mine to go back there (haven’t been there since 1982!) I just love it xx

    1. I was born just about the same time as televisions entered homes for the first time–yikes! So I do remember the very earliest in children’s television programming. And probably because it was so new, we watched a lot of it. Of course, it wasn’t on 24 hours a day and was limited to only a few shows. But it was so simple and wholesome and free of any parental censoring, as far as I recall. Today, I think there are some good shows for very young children, but once they begin to grow out of those I think children are exposed to mature messages that disturb me. Now you have to come back over for Disneyland AND lunch, Charlie! 🙂

    1. Hi Tricia! So nice to hear from you. The birthday song is so delightful! I tried to find a video of more, but they weren’t available. Probably entirely too old! LOL! I hope you have a good week, my friend.

    1. It is kind of a surprise when you begin to count all those candles and know you could start a house fire! And I love to celebrate birthdays. I had a realization many years ago that friends of mine who’d passed on much earlier were reason enough to remind me to be celebratory about life, especially with good health attached to a length of years! But I do wish they didn’t roll around quite so quickly! That is beginning to make me a little shaky! 🙂

  9. Dear Debra, I wasn’t remembering a Sheriff John and so was relieved when I read other comments and your response to learn that he was probably regional/local. I do remember Captain Kangaroo and Kukla, Fran, and Ollie (spelling?) whom I really enjoyed. One of your responses indicated that you hadn’t been really upset by the fish loss because you’d been worried about the bunny. I find that also in my life–that one thing that might seem large and perhaps tragic becomes less so when I consider what could have happened! Have a good week. Peace.

    1. I remember Kukla, Fran and Ollie, too, Dee, and loved them! There were some really nice programs for us and I’ve been very nostalgic. Captain Kangaroo was one of my favorites. I woke this morning to listen to my usual morning radio and the two hosts were discussing these very topics and remembering the programming of their childhood. It was so funny. They are about my age, and the two much younger personalities finally had to remind them to get back to the morning news! They were lost in nostalgia!

      Yes, indeed, you have it absolutely right in considering that sometimes losses are balanced by thoughts of how much worse something could be. We could hear the sound of the wild animals, but it was too dark to see what was happening. I was very worried about Pinky, and even Darwin. I tried to think that Darwin was probably able to protect himself, but I didn’t know how large the animal was! I understand the wild animals needed food for their survival, but nature can be violent…I’m such a city girl! 🙂 I hope you have a great week, Dee. oxo

  10. We had our own local children’s programs in Minneapolis, MN, too. They always bring back memories.
    Sorry about the Circle of Life getting your goldfish. 😦
    Looks like you all had a wonderful Disney time!! Youth is all in the mind. :):)

    1. Thanks for the birthday well wishes. And I have enjoyed hearing from others about their memories of children’s programming. It was also nice to hear that a few people also knew dear Sheriff John. I don’t think I will be restocking the fish pond any time too soon, though! Thank you for stopping by, Rita.

    1. It was so funny when I realized that my five-year-old self got so excited about Sheriff John that it didn’t once occur to me that the whole world didn’t know him! So funny! Thank you for the birthday wishes for Jay!

  11. I, too, was saddened to hear of the passing of Sheriff John. He was a fave of mine and I remember his delightfully clear signing voice and birthday wishes. I recalled the “Laugh and Be Happy” song but only after local news showed an interviewer with him.
    Happy b-day to JJ !! Are we counting candles for him or will that require the fire department to stand by? (hee-hee)

  12. How awful to hear those sounds.. do goldfish scream?? Yikes! I’m glad you can turn things around and find joy in a song and a birthday, Debra. I vaguely recall Sheriff John.. but our local guy Buckshot was the star around these parts in those years. Cowboys were a real hit on children’s programming weren’t they back then!? Did you have a birthday cake to celebrate (not that I’m always focussed on food or anything;) Happy Birthday to Jay!! xx

    1. Thanks for sending birthday wishes our way, Barb. We didn’t have any cake because we’ve been traveling so much we have just been non-stop eating! And we have four more family birthdays in the next three weeks! We will have lots of birthday cake! 🙂

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  14. I remember Andy-Pandy, Bill and Ben, and The Woodentops if any of those count 😉

    Sorry to read about your goldfish – sometimes the wildlife we love gets a bit too close. We don’t have the joys of Skunk’s over here but we do have Grey Squirrels and Feral Pigeons – normally referred to as Tree Rats and Rats with Wings respectively. Personally, I’m happy to feed a small number of the Pigeons, but not the Squirrels.

  15. it’s posts like this one which point up both how much we share Debra and yet how different our settings are. Your children’s TV programmes and your garden wildlife are quite outside my experience, yet I can so easily identify with your happy family outing to celebrate Jay’s birthday. 🙂

  16. I didn’t grow up in the States so I don’t know Sheriff John…
    Happy Birthday to Jay. What a lovely celebration. Enjoyed watching the pix in the slideshow.
    You’re lucky that the skunk didn’t spray your dog.

  17. Happy birthday, Jay! I didn’t know Sheriff John. He must have been a local sensation. Sorry about your fish. I have heard stories about skunks, opossums, raccoons, and various large birds cleaning out small koi ponds. One backyard pool was a target for a pelican. I arrived in time to see the pelican lift off, loaded down with two large fish.

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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