Why Beans Bring to Mind Sea Serpents and Gremlins (Among Other Things)

I’m not sure how many people suffer from an overactive and somewhat warped imagination like mine. More often than I care to admit, when I’m listening to someone talk, certain words involuntarily trigger unexpected meanings and connections.  Often this mental diversion yields a pun or other humorous observation that I should know better than to utter aloud. [Editor’s Note: regardless what you may hear from Ann or our kids, I do come up with some pretty good zingers now and then.] 

Then there are times when a word will trigger thoughts that take me down a path of random connections which have little if anything to do with what the speaker is actually talking about. The interpersonal trick is to feign interest while my mind is away on such side trips.

Today’s Andy’s Corner illustrates this kind of mental wandering. It started when Ann was telling me about her inspiration for today’s blog – beans.  While she was extolling the culinary and dietary virtues of beans, my brain was headed down an alternate path of childhood memories that included a sea serpent and a gremlin.

The Hoffman Easy Vision television with its yellow screen made from war surplus yellow plexiglas used in aircraft. Hoffman advertised that the yellow-green tinted screen reduced eye strain. (right!)

I’m not talking about just any serpent or gremlin. I’m talking about special creatures brought to life through the “miracle” of television. Although the technology and animation may not be considered “miraculous” by today’s standards, when our family got our first TV in the early 1950s (a Hoffman Easy Vision with a yellow screen – and a 3 minute warm-up time) I became mesmerized with this electronic marvel and the amazing characters that came to life in our living room.

Cast (left to right): Beany, Captain Horatio Huffenpuff, Dishonest John, Hopalong Wong, Honey Bear, and (every kid’s favorite) Cecil the Sea Sick Sea Serpent.

This brings me back to answering the question of why Ann mentioning beans triggered memories of a sea serpent and a gremlin. To begin, one of the first TV programs I watched was Time for Beany (hence the “bean” connection) and my favorite character on the show was a sea serpent. His stage name was Cecil the Sea Sick Sea Serpent. Wikipedia reports that Cecil was “brave but dimwitted” and described himself as “300 years old and 35 feet 3 inches tall.” I loved Cecil.

Andy Devine and Froggy the Gremlin circa 1955. (Photo from IMDb.com)

And as for the gremlin? I can’t think about Time for Beany without recalling another program I watched on that yellow screen: The Buster Brown Show (aka “Andy’s Gang”). The show originated as a radio broadcast in 1943 (the year I was born) hosted by Smilin’ Ed McConnell and sponsored by the Buster Brown Shoe Company. It came to TV in the early 1950s and Andy Devine took over in 1955.

What I enjoyed most about the show was the magical appearance of Froggy the Gremlin. Froggy would always materialize in a puff of smoke when Andy would say, “Plunk your Magic Twanger, Froggy.” The first thing out of Froggy’s mouth was always “Hi Ya, Kids, Hiya, Hiya, Hiya!” [Editor’s note: I was amused to learn from PrintMag.com that the expression “plunk your magic twanger” was later used by male teenage baby-boomers to suggest “carnal engagement.”]

While writing this blog I chanced upon some YouTube videos from these shows. If nothing else, my romanticized recollection of these early TV shows was shaken by what I found. The cast of of characters from the Time for Beany show are primitive, hand-held puppets and the plots ridiculous. Froggy the Gremlin is nothing more than a static rubber frog bouncing around on a podium.

Yet despite this YouTube assault on my memories, I still feel a twinge of nostalgia for that magical time when I would sit in front of a yellow screen and laugh at a goofy sea serpent. I even occasionally think about that old Hoffman TV while watching something on our HD Samsung TV with a 43 inch screen, 3840×2160 resolution, and 125 channels. I actually miss Cecil and Froggy.

If you were not fortunate enough to have experienced a 1950s era sea serpent (or gremlin), I have created a short video to get you up to speed. Imagine that you are watching it with a yellowish hue in your living room. Sit back and enjoy.

Highlights from Time for Beany and Andy’s Gang (a BigLittleMeals production)


  1. Bill Falk says:

    Although I’m not quite as far down memory lane as you (I’m younger — barely!), I loved this post re the yellow t.v. screen and the characters one found on it. Cecil, Beany, Froggy the Gremlin, Buster Brown (the dog not the shoes), Andy Devine, et al. Great stuff!! Bill


    • theRaggedys says:

      Glad you enjoyed my reminiscing. By the way, Buster Brown’s dog who appears in the shoe with him is named Tige (pronounced “Tie”). Evidently these characters help sell millions of pairs of these kids shoes from the thirties through the sixties.


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