ddrees art

My art work and thoughts

Winky Dink and You

Posted by ddrees on August 20, 2008

Winky Dink and You screen

Winky Dink and You screen

I 14remember when Winky Dink started being broadcast on TV in1953. My sister Jane and I got a screen kit and joined the fan club right away. The screen was a piece of transparent but greenish flexible, erasable plastic about a sixteenth of an inch thick that would be placed over the TV screen so you could draw on it with crayons. Winky Dink would then have you follow dot-to-dot instructions to complete drawings or decipher secret messages. We loved it. They sold millions of fifty cent kits by mail, but then there were thee cent stamps. My Dad became characteristically angered because he feared we would get radiation from being so near the TV. Perhaps he was right. He was always very cautious on our behalf. I started checking to see if I was glowing in the dark.

Winky dink golden book

Winky dink golden book

You can buy a Winky Dink video now after it disappeared for years. Except for my sister, no one I know has any recollection of it. It was the first interactive screen show and I think we kind of knew it was rich but when it ended nothing like it followed for decades. Anyway, none-other than Stan Vanderbeek was working on the Winky Dink show. “Vanderbeek began his career in the 1950s making independent art film while learning animation techniques and working painting scenery and set designs for the American TV show, Winky Dink and YouWho knew he would later be a colleague in our academic enterprise?

Winky Dink crayon set

Winky Dink crayon set

For many creatives of a certain age, the notion of interactivity was very attractive but needed to be supported by an entire industry. You could not do it alone. Whereas, you could paint and draw alone. I guess you still need the backdrop of the computer and software industry to do anything like that alone, but at least, if you have the time and money, you can learn Flash or whatever and make interactive stuff. You can be a one person band. It is a huge change.

In those days, my hometown had one good TV station and static on others, even though Daddy climbed the roof to put up an antenna. Most all the kids watched the same thing because they had the same good channel. You could count on your coevals to have the same TV experiences you did. We took it for granted that the same pieces of info would be referenced. It was pretty much controlled input with music too. Radio stations played a small repertoire of tunes and we now know that payola was being practiced. The incredible variety of music available now puts an entirely different perspective on creativity in the culture.

I think we got the TV when I was six. Before that I would go to watch TV at Dickey Roberts house and I would have met him in kindergarten at Egbert Bagg School. (I always wanted to know who Egbert Bagg was, and here through Google my wish is granted.)  Dickie, who looked like Winky Dink, and I were best buddies but he moved by the end of first grade. I started getting a complex about losing people around then. Dickie’s TV had a tiny round screen. Our first set was a twelve incher. Like me, my family was too frugal to be early adopters. I am still waiting for the cell phone, hand held gadget thing to sort itself out before I get in that habit. I have gotten along without one for sixty-two years and it somewhat bothers me that young people have instantaneously been so stuck on them. I get the impression that they are afraid to do anything alone.


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