“Ben, meet Howdy Doody”

Late afternoon  May 26, 1983 I was assigned to photograph world famous puppet Howdy Doody that was at the time on display at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle.  The famous western-clad marionette played Buffalo Bob Bob’s sidekick during the immensely popular 1950s NBC children’s show of the same name – The Howdy Doody Show.   Growing up in Tacoma in the  fifties I was a devoted fan of the show and in my heart a member of the show’s Peanut Gallery in New York.

Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody
Studio photo of Buffalo Bob Smith with Howdy Doody and Flub a Dub from the children’s television progam Howdy Doody – circa 1949.

Our 8-year old son Ben was out of school that afternoon so I thought he might want to meet  Howdy as much as I did.  The encounter turned out to be a wonderful father son experience. The curator and puppeteer who traveled with Howdy on its nationwide tour met Ben and I near the exhibit. He was a pleasant enough guy and both Ben and I liked him immediately.

“So,” he asked rhetorically, “You both want to meet Howdy Doody?” He left for a few minutes and then walked the marionette toward Ben and I seated nearby. I thought a valuable marionette like Howdy would show up in a glass case. “This is the real, original Howdy Doody used in the show as Buffalo Bob’s sidekick,” he said.  Ben and I were all smiles. The curator explained that during the show’s 13-year run a look-alike puppet named “Photo Doody” substituted for the on-air Howdy at promotional events and advertising appearances. He again reminded us that the Howdy Doody marionette was the real deal.

The curator then  maneuvered  Howdy near Ben and tweaked the strings so Howdy leaned on Ben’s arm.  He graciously allowed me to photograph the setup. It was a special moment in my career. By the way, Howdy had 48 freckles, one for each state in the union at the time.

Howdy Doody puppet
Benjamin Larsen and the original Howdy Doody puppet and a nice moment at Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry in 1983.

A Career of Moments

Woodinville Washington fire
Woodinville Washington firefighters attack a furniture factory blaze. (circa 1980).

Turned 70 August 2015. Lucky to make it this far.  Time to round up a career’s worth of photographs and try to make some sense of it all.  I Still have a lot to photograph ahead of me and I’m now blessed with excellent health to do it. But now in my 10th year of retirement from an active and rewarding 34 year career in photojournalism, photo editing, reporting and finally travel writing and photography to try to catalog what I can into something meaningful and hopefully entertaining.

WordPress, I’ve decided, will be the foundation for my interactive look at the past. Comment if you wish if I can safely activate the comment action. Over the next few weeks, months and years I’ll post my pictures already organized into folders under under a variety of categories – posting about interesting stories I was involved with along the way.  I’ll try to comment on as many images as I can.  I’ll continue to post images until the well runs dry. It’s a labor of love.

Hope you can visit and stay interested.

Jeff Larsen, Seattle Washington         October 25, 2015