Step back from the future and the World Wide Web opens a treasure chest of nostalgic artifacts. "Bewitched", anyone?
Most surfers think of the Web as a window to the future. As I found out recently, it’s also a door to the past—an entrance to a matrix of Web shrines that can jog memories with uncanny power. One of my personal childhood TV favorites, for instance, was Bewitched: As a little girl, I was mesmerized by Samantha Stephens’ magical powers and imagined using my nose- wiggling powers to hush a remember-to-make-your-bed nagging mom. As if on a Ouija board, my fingers tapped out http://www.bewitched.net and—presto—I was whisked to the The Bewitched and Elizabeth Montgomery Web Site, where I hummed along to a MIDI file of the show’s theme and brushed up on my nose wiggle to that deedle-deedle sound effect.
While there, I was treated to a virtual cross-pollination of two of my favorite pop-cult treasures—the Web equivalent of the “You’ve got your peanut butter in my chocolate” Reese’s peanut- butter-cup ads. On the Bewitched site was a sound clip of Montgomery’s commercial for Quaker Oats’ wildly popular kids’ cereals Quisp and Quake. Talk about your Proustian madeleines: I immediately flashed back to breakfast-table sibling squabbles over who got first dibs on pouring from the Quisp box.
A search for sites related to Quisp (my personal fave) uncovered DeeT’s 70s Page (http://www.rt66.com:80/dthomas/ 70s/70s.html), where I feasted on an animated TV spot featuring the propeller-headed, cross-eyed alien mascot. But that was only the tip of the retro iceberg: DeeT’s children’s section afforded hours of boob-tube pleasures, including an audio snippet of The Electric Company theme song and the perfectly harmonized scat of Zoom‘s “Ubby Dubby” tune.
But even at DeeT, something was missing. Then it hit me: Where was H.R. Pufnstuf, that acid-trip hero of early-’70s Saturday-morning TV? Before I could scream “blasphemy!” I noticed a link to Living Island (http://www.living island.com), where my cravings for the cowboy-boot-wearing green dragon and his dreamboat cockney sidekick (played by a post-Oliver! Jack Wild) were quickly and shamelessly gratified. Here’s where complete regression kicked in: Yes, I merrily scribbled outside the lines during the “Color Me Pufnstuf” Shockwave crayon game. I know, it’s ridiculous, but the notion that anyone can recapture the details of their childhood from the vastness of the Web has me as blissed-out as a kid before recess. In a sense, these online museums alter the very concept of memory by making it both personal and communal. That’s heady stuff, but, to tell the truth, I think I need a nap before I head back to the future. If I can only find a site for Oreo cookies…