Al Batt: Memories of ‘The Uncle Rob Show’

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting:

I walked into a room three times and I still couldn’t remember why I was there.

That’s too bad, but life is set up to be forgotten as you go. Think of your forgetfulness as an exercise program.

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I know and I’ll try, but the worst part was that the room was the bathroom.

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors — both named Bruce — who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: We are all traveling at the same speed, 60 minutes per hour. Why are “dip” and “bump” signs seldom in the right place? When a man says, “Fine,” he means it.

Way up north 

My wife and I were volunteering at a crowded, but worthwhile function in Haines, Alaska. A woman had just told me that she was a triplet. I was wondering if triplets refer to themselves in the third person when a fellow standing near me started behaving in a way that could have been best described as peculiar. He was a little guy, but he was loud, very talkative and waved his hands in the air wildly. People from some parts of the world are that way, I’d guessed. This event drew people from all over the globe. I didn’t expect them all to speak English any more than I expected to be able to speak their languages. I had no idea what language he was speaking or what he was saying, but he seemed enthusiastic. That’s a fine thing that should be encouraged. I tried. I smiled and nodded stupidly. It was then that someone standing next to me said, “You’re standing on his foot.”

Uncle Rob and the will-o’-the-wisp

I was headed to a store. When it comes to shopping, my favorite entrance is the exit. I’m on my best behavior in stores that include bacon.

A van covered in bumper stickers passed me. I suffered from drive-by sticker shock. I’ve always been more of a duct-tape guy than a bumper-sticker guy. Bumper stickers are temporary tattoos for automobiles. The van had a video player of some kind in it. It glowed eerily, like a will-o’-the-wisp, as the van sped down the road. A will-o’-the-wisp is an atmospheric ghost light seen at night, especially in marshy areas. It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to retreat if approached in an attempt to draw travelers from safe paths. A neighbor told me that the only way to make the haunting spirit go away was by throwing a handful of dirt from a graveyard at it. I’d seen will-o’-the-wisps often during my boyhood years and not once did I have a handful of graveyard dirt with me. There were many causes given for the presence of will-o’-the-wisps. I didn’t know which one to believe.

For some reason, this caused me to think of the Austin TV station, KMMT, most commonly referred to as Channel 6, and Buff Setterquist, also known as Uncle Rob. Buff, from Cloquet, joined the station in 1963 and started a program called “The Uncle Rob Show” and/or “Uncle Rob’s Funny Company.” It appealed to anyone who could laugh. The station’s call letters were changed to KAUS in 1968. Flashlights acting as spotlights showcased a clubhouse and bleachers. It was a peanut gallery that was popular in those days, such as on Bart’s Clubhouse on Channel 3, KGLO in Mason City, from 1958 to 1976. Uncle Rob’s favorite drink was Blurp Cola and he was on a quest to find the perfect peanut butter sandwich. There was a safe named Sidney. Kids sent in hundreds of combinations, but Sidney the Safe never opened. Rob’s pet, Terrible Thomas the Termite, received letters containing toothpicks for food. Rob, who later became a radio disc jockey of note named Rob Sherwood, played the piano and sang, “Ah, sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you.”

With the van’s video, the sweet mystery of the modern day will-o’-the wisp had been found.

A tip from your Old Uncle Al

Don’t forget to replace the summer air in your car tires with fall air. Otherwise your tires might crepitate.

Nature notes

“Why is bird poop white?” It’s actually brown. The white part is uric acid, the equivalent to a mammal’s urine.

Meeting adjourned

“If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.” — Maya Angelou. Be kind.