Growing up in Australia during the latter part of last century was unique – and we’re big fans of documenting it here on Ustralian. Among some of the more interesting Aussie TV shows was Romper Room – which was actually a US TV show that was franchised and syndicated throughout the world.
According to Wikipedia:
Each program would open with a greeting from the hostess and the Pledge of Allegiance. Then the hostess and her group of children would embark on 30 or 60 minutes of games, exercises, songs and moral lessons, which were regularly accompanied by background music. The young cast was rotated every two months and ranged from four to five years old.
Romper Room tried to teach its young charges to be polite. For instance, the hostesses were always addressed as “Miss.” Many of the hostesses had prior experience in working with small children, as many were former kindergarten teachers.
The hostess would also serve milk and cookies to the children, with prayer offered before eating. The famous Romper Room prayer went “God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food. Amen.”
At the end of each broadcast, the hostess would look through a “magic mirror” – actually an open hoop with a handle, the size and shape of a hand mirror – recite the rhyme, “Romper, bomper, stomper boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic Mirror, tell me today, have all my friends had fun at play?” She would then name the children she saw in “televisionland”, saying, for example, “I can see Robert and Jessica and Julie and Jimmy and Kelly and Tommy and Judy” and so on. Kids were encouraged to mail in their names, which would be read on the air – first names only.
Though we’re not sure that the Aussie version included all of the above, we do know that there was a national edition, and the hostesses were Miss Susan, Miss Patricia, Miss Helena and Miss Megan.
Thanks to the powers of youtube, many old VHS tapes of kids’ appearances are still making the rounds. Particularly memorable are renditions of “Bend and Stretch,” “Punch the Ball,” and the magic mirror. I was continually disappointed as a child when my name was never called out. I guess you could say I understood the lack of magic at an early age.