Growing up, my weeks held to a certain pattern.

Monday through Friday, I went to school. After school, I would go to my mother’s craft store or visit my great-grandmother next door. We’d go home and have dinner followed by the evening news with Peter Jennings and whatever CBS was showing that night — because we only had three TV channels to choose from. Homework was done and checked and it was off to bed before 9.

Saturday, my usually non-morning-person self would be up super early. I’d quietly make my way downstairs, pour myself a bowl of cereal and click on the television.

The boring news and sitcoms from the night before had been miraculously replaced by colorful cartoons. And there I would sit for the next three hours until the Saturday morning special signaled it was time to get out of the house before Mom came calling with her list of chores. 

Sure, one could argue I was wasting time I could have used for more scholarly pursuits. But I was able to watch some classic animated stories, and unbeknownst to me, received quite the education in classical literature, music, even politics. 

Bugs Bunny launched on the scene in the 1940s. He appeared in 150 films and earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — no small feat for a wascially wabbit. 

He was witty and always up to some kind of mischief. 

But the cartoons also gave me a basis for so much more! Looney Tunes features music from the great composers — Mozart, Strauss, Mendelssohn. The story lines were plucked from Shakespeare and Mark Twain.

Without cartoons, how many of us would actually know the William Tell Overture when we hear it? This classic composition found its way into Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Popeye and the Flintstones, in addition to the Lone Ranger. 

While Dan Rather once said, “An intellectual snob is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture and not think of The Lone Ranger,” cultural education is important. 

Those quips and musical notes sparked something in many kids. It made things that seemed difficult easier to understand and translated the themes in a way people of all ages could relate. How many kids became interested in the piano thanks to Tom and Jerry’s Cat Concerto?

These cartoons inspired us more than we ever realized as we munched on our Lucky Charms.

But then, Saturday morning cartoons came to an end. 

The final holdout in the cartoon tradition, the CW Network, aired its final Saturday morning cartoon lineup in September 2014. 

Other networks had ditched their animated friends much earlier, choosing infomercials instead.

It was partly the fault of cable, which offered entire channels dedicated to young viewers, and changes in federal regulations.

The cartoons of my youth (and my parents’ youth) have been replaced by new shows and characters I don’t know. 

But what cable takes away, the internet returns. Several streaming services offer classic cartoons. Some require a subscription. Some don't. 

This weekend, let Saturday morning cartoons make a comeback with some classic Bugs Bunny adventures.

 

 

 

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.

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