Once Upon a Time in Portland Television….

Recently, I came across this Facebook homage devoted to an icon from my childhood I had nearly forgotten. The sight of “Kite Man” flooded my brain with half-remembered memories of summer mornings  in the ’80s spent parked  in front of long-gone, Portland TV programs like “The Ramblin’ Rod Show.”

Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming need to drop what I was doing (wasting time on Facebook) to dredge the waters of YouTube for commercials and footage from this nearly lost era of PDX television.

Does the name “Tom Peterson” ring a bell? Do you have fond memories of gorging yourself on ice cream at Farrell’s? In the mood to contemplate exactly how much hairspray KGW news anchor Tracy Barry was sticking in her hair back in 1988? Then hit the jump for a trip down nostalgia lane….

I spent untold hours watching “The Ramblin’ Rod Show” back in the day. I never got a chance to sit in the studio audience as a kid or participate in a “Smile Contest,” dang nabbit. Amazingly enough, Rod Anders hosted the show for 33 years on KPTV. Here’s a clip of the ’80s show intro and a few minutes from one installment. Can you imagine doing this, day in and day out, for over three decades. Anders was a saint.

Here’s a round of KPDX ads from 1988 or so. I can’t be the last human on earth that remembers Smith’s Home Furnishing.

Here’s a Tom Peterson’s (And Gloria’s Too) ad from sometime in the early ’90s. Strangely enough, there’s only a few of their commercials floating around YouTube. I’m sure someone out there is sitting on a treasure trove of old VHS tapes featuring this infamous Portland power couple. I vaguely recall ads that featured the Petersons’ trolley, which carted customers from store to store and footage of customers getting free “Tom Peterson haircuts” at their various locations on Saturdays. Kurt Cobain was a fan and often wore a Peterson wristwatch, which recently sold at auction.

If you grew up in Portland in the ’80s, you probably still remember this place…as much as you might like to forget about it entirely. This strange pizza parlor, one of the many “organ pizza parlors” that were popular around the country in the ’70s and ’80s, featured an animatronic monkey that was the stuff of countless childhood nightmares around Portland. I wrote a tribute to the Organ Grinder Pizza Parlor years ago on my old Portland blog. Oregonian movie reviewer/cartoonist Mike Russell also put together a great comic strip that mentions the restaurant, in addition to Kite Man.

I don’t know if this footage was shot at the Portland location but, yeah, it was a lot like this. Downright, hypnotizing, no?

I only vaguely remember “Bumpity.” It was a puppet show that ran for years on KATU, Portland’s ABC affiliate.

Not as iconic, or terrifying, as the Organ Grinder, this pizza chains was still a hip spot for west coast tykes back in the ’80s. It’s still around but not nearly as cool as it was back then.

Now here’s the family-friendly restaurant that I wish I could jump into a time machine and visit again. I went to the Washington Square location countless times in the ’80s…before it was replaced by a Lenscrafters. Boooooo! An old Farrell’s in Eugene was bought out sometime in the ’90s and the owners kept it pretty much the same, despite renaming it “The Pike Street Ice Cream Parlor.” Even the menus remained mostly unchanged. I managed to visit it a few times before they finally sold it a few years ago.

The aforementioned Tracy Barry hair clip. My God…..

I went looking for the Enchanted Forest commercial that ran for at least ten years on KPDX and KPTV during afternoon blocks like “The Disney Afternoon.” I can still quote it. “It’s Enchanted Forest! Icy bobsleds! Western town! Haunted house!” Alas, the ad doesn’t seem to be on the internet. On the bright side, The Portland Mercury devoted one of their annual “Best of….” parody issues to the ultra-cheesy/cool Oregon theme park in 2009.

This last one is a round-up of commercials from 1990. They’re not Portland-centric but that Greyhound jingle got stuck in my head for months one summer. “68 or less!”

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