Sep 10, 2007

Big blue marble

Seeing Vincent's clip from 3-2-1 Contact, I got to remembering one of my favorite shows as a kid, Big Blue Marble.
Does anyone out there remember it too?

It featured segments on how others lived around the world. It was very 1970's.
I loved the show. One aspect of it was a prominent pen pal program. You could write to the show and they would set you up with a pen pal from some far flung exotic locale.

Sort of like

Of course I signed up. My personality hasn't changed that much since age 9.

A few weeks later, I got the name of my pen pal. I eagerly opened it, only to find out that he was from the far flung exotic locale of....
rural Ontario.

He wasn't even from the French speaking part of Canada. I was so disappointed. I had wanted a pen pal from France, from Nigeria, from Japan! Those were the pen pals they advertised.

(It was just like the Sea Monkeys.)

But I still wrote to him, eagerly telling him about where I lived, pumping up the exotic factor (I figured he was just as disappointed to have a pen pal in the boring old U.S.) asking him all sorts of questions about Ontario.

He'd been down south to Florida, so there was nothing I had seen around here (even alligators) that he hadn't experienced already...hell, he had probably gotten to ride them in Kissimmee or something, what did I know?

And the way he described Canada was not at all the way I pictured it. He seemed to live on a plain old boring farm, not out in the North Woods swarming with Dudley Do-rights the way I imagined.

We kept corresponding for a year or so I believe, but then it lapsed, as I'm sure most such correspondences did. I wonder what happened to him?


Veronica said...

I loved Big Blue Marble! I also had a pen pal. Mine was from Hong Kong so that was cool. We wrote to each other for a long time and didn't really stop until after I went away for college. I don't even remember her name now. Check out this website if you want to send postcards to people all over the world--it is really great:

Anonymous said...

I had one too- I forget her name, but it was in about 4th grade, I think. She lived near Paris, which was thrilling compared to Grand Junction. We exchanged about two letters each. I wonder about her too, sometimes. And I never got sea monkeys, but I was dying to. My motherw oudnt have them in the house. But those crystal gardens you grow in a mason jar??? Come on, how about them apples? love, Lisa

Silly Monkey said...

I've never even heard of this show, but apparently many people have because people have written a lot about it online. I thought maybe it was just shown in the south, the way Wonderama was only shown in NY and a few areas, but someone from NJ said that they remembered it. Someone said it came on 6:00 am on Saturdays. That might explain why I've never heard of it. ;)

jason said...

wow.. pen pals from Hong Kong?

You're really making me feel bad now.

Thanks Veronica for the link. I didn't think people still did that. It's nice to know they do.

And Lisa...I got those very same crystals too...freaky!

And yep, Jason, it was all over the world I guess...or at least Canada and the US, only way I end up with Ontario up there.

Junk Thief said...

I had a pen pal in 9th grade in France, and on paper at least he lived up to my fantasy of a French boy I would have loved meeting and getting to know better. Alas, it never went anywhere after a year, but I think I still have one of his photos somewhere. I, uh, looked at it a lot back then.

Silly Monkey said...

"And yep, Jason, it was all over the world I guess...or at least Canada and the US, only way I end up with Ontario up there."

Oh, duh! I didn't bring logic with me when I came to visit your blog yesterday. ;)

ayem8y said...

Loved The Big Blue Marble it was such a worldly program for children. I remember one episode about the Zuider Zee in the Netherlands and correcting my fourth grade teacher about the pronunciation, she was amazed I had learned about it from TV. The pen pal thing seemed so exotic and intriguing but I never got around to it and after reading the comments, I realize I missed out on the pen pal I never knew and I missed out on trying to remember their names some thirty years later and I missed out on wondering what they would be doing now after all these years of neglecting to write to them...

Michael Guy said...

I don't recall "Big Blue Marble" but then again, I'm old as dirt. I'm from the "Cap'n Kangaroo" generation. We had 'Mr. Green Jeans' and 'bunny rabbit' who stole carrots. Lame by today's show standards but it kept glued to the TV.

Never did the pen pal thing; probably because it would have involved a stamp and my mom was not going to waste good stamps on that!

"Sea monkeys:" Yes. Major childhood disappointment.

Michael Guy said...

Me again.

...'kept ME glued to the TV."

God I hate sloppy commenting.

:: anal retentive here ::

no milk said...

i had a pen-pal too, but at the dorky age of 16. can you believe it? i found the girl's ad in a guitar magazine and wrote. we kept it up for a year, all without using our real names. it was very very mysterious. i wonder where those letters are now?

jason said...

Wow...more French Pen pals!
WTF...are you people trying to drive me insane with jealousy?

But you're right, Michael, stamps had to be stolen...and for mail to Ontario, you had to steal an inordinate amount. Come to think of it maybe that's what ended the mother.

And a girl from a guitar magazine?
Sounds like a Belle and Sebastian song, doesn't it, nomilk?

jason said...

Zuider Zee?
ah yes...
I rememember learning about that too...who knew it would become so...pertinent...down here.

Still not sure how to pronounce it however.

Brian Phillips said...

Hey ayem8y! I remember the "Zuider Zee" cartoon as well. Didn't it have to do with a queen throwing wheat into the Zuider Zee? I DO remember that there was a gravelly-voiced singer that acted like a Greek chorus through the picture. My brother and I loved to sing, "...on the Zuider Zee" in honor of that cartoon.