Friday, April 13, 2012
A half dozen e-mails and the occasional letter still pop up annually about Parka Patrol.
Ah, the sweet little Saturday night blues and Bambi fantasy about a lovesick ranger in a fire tower.
Once in a while he got into town to play the jukebox at the local hotel, which curiously only played B-17, a reference to the long-ago pop tune and Bingo.
Listeners were praised as hardy countrymen and Sons of the Snowscoop.
Or was it a fantasy? The show took its mail at a post office box in Maynooth, ON, which is on the way to Algonquin Park.
(I wanted to use Snowball, ON as our mail drop, but it was too far to go. LOL)
For 25 years, I commuted into Toronto to do Toronto Sun humour columns, and broadcast projects like Parka Patrol, and a later weekly CFRB opus, Recordhounds.
Once a month, I'd lumber into CBC Radio's old Jarvis St. Kremlin to tape three episodes. All of the strange records were my own, a frightening insight into my head and interests over 40 or so years. We'd have a lead sheet for the tunes, and a nearly complete script.
I'd say our greatest achievements included the National T-Shirt Trade, a national unity parody.
Listeners sent us their favourite small-town t-shirt and we'd trade it for one of the same size from somewhere else. Local fire companies, gas stations and unheard-of cafes seems to be the most popular. The mail handler (me) nearly went insane. In the two years of the show, we drew about 1,200 letters--all answered with a note, bumpersticker or Maynooth Bears t-shirt. Alas even then, the CBC had no budget for inspired craziness.
Our other big bark was the Parka Patrol Dog Show.
Listeners sent in a pic of their adored mutt, and the object was to send a Best in Show ribbon--100 printed up at a trophy store--to EVERY dog entered, mention each dog BY NAME on the show and send each one a ribbon. Every dog a winner! The Dog Show had about 80 dogs, with appropriate thoughts on their talents. (Owners had to tell us their talents, which included drooling, humping and farting).
We sent listeners Bingo cards for National Bingo Night. Many numbers called. Very confusing. Many winners.
A plugged-in pal got then-Communications Minister Marcel Masse to record us a promo: "I am the Minister of Communications. You are the People of the Parka." It was Very Official.
Anyway, the mail load, timing tunes and chasing ever-weirder music began to impinge on my real job as daily columnist. I begged the CBC to at least run off some pre-printed postcards--the same wolf image and the exploding pineapple seen here. Nada.
So Parka Patrol went away, to wherever old radio goes.
No more music for the Saturday night bath.
No word of whether Bambi won Bingo.
No more recipes for Stuffed Porcupine or how to catch one.
(Wait on the corner of the porch until porkie comes to eat the house. Bean a big can of V8 off his noggin.)
Where will the young learn such stuff?