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Friday, October 27, 2006

PATCH THE PONY

Tonight I was reading and came across a sentence containing the words "nay, nay." Then the strangest thing happened. A song ran through my head. A very simple, very stupid song:

There's a brown and white pony
And his name is Patch the Pony
And he says, "Nay, nay, from strangers stay away!"

Where on earth did this come from? Could it be, for no good reason, my brain was coughing up the contents of a safety filmstrip I saw in kindergarten? Sure enough, more pieces came back and I remembered that I had seen a "Patch the Pony" program when I was 5.

It really is stunning to think about the process that unfolded in those few seconds. In 1974, I'm shown a low-budget safety presentation. This memory stores itself somewhere in my brain, where it lies dormant for 32 years. Then a random sentence triggers some series of synapses, and I'm singing a children's song I hadn't thought about since I walked out of the classroom that day.

This made me wonder, "just what became of Patch?" While I was able to remember the song, I didn't quite remember what Patch was all about. I knew he was a pony, and that he had an eye patch. What happened to his eye was never explained, but I think most of us kids assumed he lost it in a duel.

So, just for kicks, I google "Patch the Pony" just to see if some other aging Gen-Xer has created a tribute site full of sarcasm and irony and whatever else the Baby Boomers accuse us of having. Imagine my surprise when I discover that Patch the Pony Inc. is still an operating company in some small town in South Carolina. They're still selling videocasettes of this program. I didn't see it on video, but on filmstrip. (If you're too young to know what a filmstrip is... go ask your grandfather. If you're too young to know what a videocasette is, ask me, I'm feeling about as old as your grandfather tonight.)

As I read the description of of the presentation, I remember more clearly seeing it all those years ago, when Nixon was still in the White House. I remember thinking the story was pretty cool. But reading the description, I'm also struck by now stupid the plot is. Check this out:

"The legend of "Patch the Pony" tells the delightful story of a brave young pony who leaves the farm where he grew up, journeys to the big city to be with children he loves and becomes a hero by rescuing a small boy from a potential abductor. He wins the respect of children, parent's school officials and police through his efforts to protect young children from strangers. Patch teaches children his safety message of… "Nay, Nay from strangers stay away""

Quite frankly that story sounds a little creepy. I cleary wasn't a very discriminating viewer back then. But for all my mockery, I guess they got one thing right. Their program description says it is easily remembered by children. I remember it. So there. Of course, I make my living talking to strangers, so perhaps the program isn't as effective as they hoped.

Note: more baby pictures soon, I promise.

13 Comments:

At 11:39 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But why does the pony have an eye patch?! Perhaps Patch is a pirate?

 
At 4:09 pm, Blogger Platypus said...

Memories are strange things but at the end of the day, you remembered Patch's ditty even if you didn't follow it. In the UK we had something similar with singing hedgehogs teaching us to look both ways before we crossed the road!

 
At 12:04 am, Blogger Workman said...

I wish I could have seen that... along with the Wombles.

 
At 2:08 am, Blogger Platypus said...

Ah, the Wombles. I had an Uncle Bulgaria toy when I was little. I don't know if you can get the DVDs but you should definitely play your boys the Wombles songs! Lots of usful songs about picking up litter and Wombling good times... :)

 
At 12:59 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, I remember Patch as well. I guess his message worked, as I never was abducted. Now, tell me if you remember "Zap, the Cat"!

 
At 4:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always had fond memories of Patch. A few years ago I found the complete teacher's edition on ebay...record filmstrip book teacher's guide. I was two months behind on the electric bill but got it anyway. I then looked up my first grade teacher and went to her house. You should have seen her face light up when she saw it!

 
At 5:49 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remembered the saying "nay nay nay from strangers stay away." but didn't remember the horses name. I was in Kindergarten in 1971 and a horse(a person in a horse costume) came into our classroom and talked to us about strangers. So I've remembered that saying for over 30 years. Wow what a flashback for this Gen Xer!

 
At 6:01 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw it in 1969 and still remember it. Looks like the medium worked, we all still remember it...

 
At 9:45 am, Anonymous Shauna 1 said...

Driving home today I saw a black and white horse and suddenly I was singing Patch the Pony! So I had to come home and Google it. Funny how Memories pop up like that. WOW there really is a song and I remember it well now and when I learned it!

 
At 7:23 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure how or why this song popped into my head, but here I sit 35 years later and I can still vividly remember the Patch the Pony film strip from elementary school and the important message that it conveyed. I was saddened to read so many cynical posts. Sure, it's simplistic by today's standards...but the importance and underlying theme of educating kids of the potential scenarios and dangers are still relevant today. I am grateful for ole "Patch" and hope that his message continues to help save and protect our kids.

 
At 6:16 pm, Anonymous FM said...

I'm 52 and I have childhood friends with whom I can still sing the entire song. I remembered NOTHING about the actual story, or why the heck Patch had a thing about chasing strangers away, or why he had a patch. But I can sing the entire song--along with other jingles from 60s TV commercials. I can't, however, remember why I just came into this room.

 
At 3:09 pm, Blogger Unknown said...

omg, I cant believe this. This song has ALWAYS STUCK in my head. I was in kindergarden in 1978 and I still remember too. Never go anywhere with someone whooooo, you dont know so go for they may hurt youuuuuu. I remwmber like it was yesterday. Wow was so wxxited to read this blog cause my son is practicing his trombone and jogged my memory

 
At 12:05 am, Blogger Unknown said...

I have always love that song ( Patch the Pony. I'm 55yrs old and that song seems to always pop up on my mind.There was a woman that said she remembers that song and now us suppose to be an adult.She said that she makes a living talking to strangers and the song was not that effectiveness.Well your a grown up you just had to try and spoil what it stood for.

 

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