Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 6, 2013

TV back in the day: ‘Conjunction Junction’ revived with new NS commercial


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — The music was familiar but the lyrics were not. Straightening up my kitchen on a routine weekday night, I was suddenly transported back to childhood and Saturday morning cartoons.

“Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?

“Hooking up words and phrases and clauses.

“Conjunction Junction, how’s that function?

“I got three favorite cars

“That get most of my job done.

“Conjunction Junction, what’s their function?

“I got “and,” “but,” and “or,”

“They’ll get you pretty far ...”

Schoolhouse Rock was a series of animated cartoons that educated viewers on a plethora of subjects, including grammar, math and government. And they were as much a part of the weekend morning lineup as Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner.

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Today’s young generation, plugged in with smartphones, iPads and hi-def television, have no comprehension of how technology worked some four decades ago. In those days, there was no Internet, no cell phones, no Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We communicated via archaic landlines. And television signals were contingent upon blue skies and rabbit ears.

Living in the boonies, a basic antenna on top of the TV — typically adorned with an abundance of aluminum foil — did us no good. So Dad bought a large antenna, placed it at the top of the mountain, and connected it to our house with yards upon yards of ladder wire.

On good days, we would get a fairly clear picture of channel 6, our NBC affiliate, and a rolling, “ghostly” image of channel 4, our ABC station. When both networks went out we kids would “walk the line.”

Starting in the backyard we would hike up the mountain following the ladder wire. At some point there would be a break — usually a fallen tree limb snapping the line. Pulling out pocket knives, the line would be spliced then reinforced with black, electrical tape.

Completing our chore, we would rush back home, hoping that something good would be on TV.

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From 1956 to 1975, many children, teenagers and adults across the region brought the late Ray “Snoop” Brooks and O.C. “Scoop” Young into their homes from 5 to 6 p.m. Although their live improvisation primarily revolved around product advertisements — two of the most popular being R.C. Cola and Deskins Supermarket — the unscripted banter and rapport between the two men made them local celebrities across the region.

One of the ongoing plot lines was that Snoop was always thirsting for an RC Cola, but Scoop never let him have one of the cool, refreshing drinks. Their live skits aired at the beginning and end of each western broadcast daily on WHIS television in Bluefield.

Although the title of the show was “Circle 6 Ranch” — it was broadcast on Bluefield’s local channel 6 — many simply called it the “Snoop and Scoop Show.”

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While Snoop and Scoop provided fun, Schoolhouse Rock cartoons imparted knowledge.

Many children gained their first overview of government from watching “I’m Just a Bill” (...Well, it’s a long, long journey; To the capital city. It’s a long, long wait; While I’m sitting in committee ...) and learned math skills from “Three is a Magic Number” (”... It takes three legs to make a tri-pod or to make a table stand ...”)

My favorites, however, were “Conjunction Junction” and “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here.”

“Conjunction Junction” taught the proper use of conjunctions through the use of animated railroad cars while the “Lolly” song strengthened writing skills by telling the story of a store that sold adverbs.

Other favorites included “Interjections,” “A Noun is a Person, Place or Thing,” “Unpack Your Adjectives” and “Preamble.”

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On this recent evening, I paused during my routine chores to listen to the words of the commercial blaring on the television.

“Norfork Southern, what’s your function.

“Hooking up the country helping business run ...”

I smiled while watching images of the railroad, and large containers being transported across the nation.

The ad spot was set to the iconic, familiar music of “Conjunction Junction,” and brought back fond memories of childhood and an early education gained in front of a static-filled, ghost-ridden TV screen.

In those days, we gained an education via airwaves instead of aps. But, despite the bad signals, useless rabbit ears and broken ladder wire, we still learned on those intermittent occasions when the screen was semi-clear and the sound audible.

And thanks to the glory days of Saturday morning cartoons, I still know the function of a conjunction.

Samantha Perry is editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at sperry@bdtonline.com. Follow her @BDTPerry.