TV Nostalgia: Barnaby

When I was very, very young — around 4 or 5 years old — I remember watching Barnaby. It was a children’s show, locally produced, as many television stations did up until about the late ’80s. (As I understand it, the local children’s show in Toledo was Patches and Pockets.)

Barnaby talked to an invisible parrot, Long John, and had a few puppet and human character friends. During his show, he also cut to Popeye and Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon segments, and I think those are really why I watched Barnaby. His bits just weren’t engaging to me as a child, not even in that mild-mannered children’s show host kind of way.

At the end of every show, as he was leaving his “house,” his parting line was, “If anybody calls, tell ’em Barnaby says hello. And tell ’em that I think you’re the nicest person in the world! Just you.”

The above clip is the end of Barnaby’s final show, in 1988. I never saw this clip before tonight, and now I find it so sad. Not just that a children’s show did its final wrap — that inevitably happens, just like children inevitably grow up — but that he was so obviously sad to be ending it.

It turns out that Barnaby (a.k.a. Linn Sheldon) was a talented early-television-era actor-comedian in the Cleveland area. He also wrote an autobiography, Barnaby and Me, which I’m unlikely to find locally (but I might be able to find in Cleveland) is available used on Barnes & Noble if I really want it.

Linn Sheldon died in 2006, eight years after retiring from television, in his Lakewood home.

You don’t see locally-produced content like this anymore. People just five years younger than me probably don’t remember watching shows like this (or, a little later in life, waking up in front of the TV to the Star-Spangled Banner or a test pattern). YouTube is great for trying to convey these memories, but today’s 20-somethings can’t really relate to this any more than I can really relate to sitting around the radio set and listening to audio dramas or radio plays.

3 thoughts on TV Nostalgia: Barnaby

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  1. it’s funny the thing I remember about Barnaby is that he would say things that infered things that I thought a child should not be exposed to. the kids didn’t get it I guess it was to keep the folks in the room.

  2. I have never seen this show, but I did use to stay up late and watch The Big Chuck and Little John show which wasn’t a children’s show, but was a local Cleveland show. Then there would be the Star Spangled Banner and then then test pattern.

  3. I remember seeing the locally produced Bozo the Clown episodes as a kid and recognizing that they weren’t the same as the network stuff. I’m not sure I valued it more but I knew it was different. I think the “locally produced” stuff has just moved to the internet, while local tv has moved to the background of cable and network stuff.