5:00. Get out of my way, it's time for Uncle Looney! With a tuna fish sandwich, and a glass of Double Cola, I was ready to settle in for a half hour of watching cartoons like "Space Angel" and "Clutch Cargo" on a show hosted by a crazy old bearded guy who wore overalls and a Confederate army cap. He spent his time sitting in a rocking chair in an old country shack somewhere, inviting lucky kids to come in and sit on the "cracker barrel" and watch cartoons with him. There was an aura of danger about Uncle Looney. He was just a little bit too crazy, and you knew that adults wouldn't trust him. Of course, we loved him.
Something I recall from my youth, misspent or otherwise: Uncle Looney had a rocker to which he had attached an overhead bar running from side to side, and attached to this was some kind of fringe; when he rocked, it served to fan him under the hot studio lights. I also remember him calling to "Cousin Bradley" to start the cartoon machine (which, as a kid, I always imagined as a kind of futuristic Rube Goldberg thing); today, I assume that "Bradley" was the producer.
I ran into Itty Bitty Pete in Sportsman's when I was in junior high (Woodrow Wilson, of course), and he was quiet but pleasant enough. I think the fact that he was so recognizable made him a little uncomfortable.
Note: "Cousin Bradley" was James Bradley, who directed the Uncle Looney show.
I was born in 1957 and the first person I EVER remember seeing on TV was Uncle Looney. I remember thinking that he was a real person who lived up on Bent Mountain somewhere (didn't we all) and that if I threw a big enough tantrum my parents would drive me over to visit his country store (or was it his cabin? We are still trying to settle this dispute). One thing I remember about Uncle Looney is that he was well sponsored and was always telling us to go out and buy whatever it was. The three things I remember him pushing were Bactine, Fizzies, and Wham-O toys that were likely being hawked by the Jennings-Shepherd Toy Store? If Uncle Looney said to buy it, I pestered my mother endlessly until she did. For this reason, my mother couldn't stand Uncle Looney (though she always let me watch him anyway). And she never let me go into the Jennings-Shepherd Toy Store either, which is why I think they must have sponsored Uncle Looney. And she recently told me that years ago she wrote Uncle Looney a letter telling him that his use of "ain't" and other Southern country colloquial language was NOT good for the kids! Fortunately, Uncle Looney did what my father and I generally did for years, which was to ignore my mother when she was having a conniption fit. Long live the memory of Uncle Looney!
Well ,this is great! Letís just remember that you Roanoke Kids weren't the only lucky ones. We had a TV with 3 channels in Lynchburg, VA too! Even if y'all were lucky enough that Uncle Looney lived in Y'allís town. I was born in Lynchburg, VA and like you, Uncle Looney was my main man. Do you remember when he would come on it would show a log cabin in the woods and play Dixie? I guess that's why aside from my home and farm in Goode I also have a log cabin back in the mountains today. I just don't have a box with Pepsi Colas in it. They can say what they want about kids today but they need programs like this. Uncle Looney was an Uncle that belonged to all of us. He was not only a talented TV host and personality but he was a hell of a baby sitter and salesman. I guess that's why today I enjoy going to the Vista Food Store in Bedford or these 50s era independent grocery stores. When I walk in I get the feeling: ĒJust Tell Them That Uncle Looney sent you.Ē For years I wrote numerous letters to Channel 10 to try to find information on Tom Hughes, no one could tell me a thing. I did not know if he were still alive until you came out with this web site. It's a shame that we couldn't have gotten together before he died. Youíre doing a great job! Iím with you all the way. This man deserves recognition.
I was at Anchor Sales today and as usual I butted in on someone else's conversation and it just so happened to be Jeff Hughes. He was nice enough to include me in his conversation and then I was told that he was "Uncle Looney's" son. I told him that I remember his dad as Uncle Looney as a matter of fact I was honored to be a guest at the studio on his show. Well, kinda! Actually, my neighborhood friend Margaret Ross was having a birthday and they took us all to see Uncle Looney. Mom got me all dressed up with the tie and coat. I was only about 5 yrs old, if that. That would be in 1961. You went to a party...you dressed up and you had a present. I can remember clear as day being there and then getting to sit on Uncle Looney's lap while he was in his chair. You better know that we all were on cloud nine! A TV star! Well he was and is to us. I must say that this was one of the more important events in my childhood. I am in my fifties and when I talked to his son Jeff about this it was a big blast from a time long ago but that still is a part of me. Back then you were taught to be good citizens with manners and morals and Uncle Looney was an icon to me and what he said must be right and it was! God Bless you guys for bringing this to the internet for all to see and I will be looking to see those new pictures when you get them on the site. They will really take us all back to a time that kids today just do not understand how people like Tom Hughes influenced the children in the proper way.
Again, thank you,
What a great thing to read your comments and to remember so many wonderful afternoons with Uncle Looney. I used to send him drawings which he would show on the air with everyone else's. I think much of my sense of humor and creativity came from watching him and his cartoons. I still have an autographed picture he sent me. I got to shake his hand in Roanoke at a Christmas parade. (Also got to hug Captain Kangaroo who was doing an interview in a Barnes and Noble in Seattle. He was so little. I cried -- sheesh, a grown man). Thanks for the site!