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Pick Temple-
"Pick Temple"
6 Pages:
Pick Temple Publicity Card For WTOP-TV 9 (Donnated by Shirley Menefee)
WTOP-TV 9 Publicity Card 
(Donated by Shirley Menefee)
Click on the image to see a larger image.

Park Temple tells how the show's puppets were named:

"One of the puppets on the show was a raven whom Dad named 'Quoth' in honor of his Baltimorian heritage and Edgar Allen Poe.  So, in full, the puppet's name was 'Quoth the Raven'.  At least WE thought it was funny.  All the puppets were similarly named with a tongue in cheek.  We had a fox named 'Yon Cassius';  sometimes referred to as 'Yon Cassius with the lean and hungry look". A monkey puppet became 'Leif Mulcher'.  And so on. 

I probably shouldn't include this, but one of Dad's favorite inside jokes was the name for a dragon puppet.  His name was 'Miassiss'.  I'll leave the rest to your imagination."

Pick at a personal appearance (Kinescope image donated by Tom Buckley, WUSA-TV)
Pick signs his book at a personal appearance.
Pick Signs His Picture Book (Kinescope image provided by Tom Buckley, WUSA-TV)
(Donated by Tom Buckley, WUSA-TV)

Tom Fielding recalls; "Pick Temple made personal appearances with Lady at Edmonston Elementary School (between Hyattsville & Riverdale) every year when I was there in the late '50s."

Small Hands Hold Pick's Picture Book 
(Donated by Tom Buckley, WUSA-TV)
Small Hands Hold Pick's Picture Book (Kinescope image donated by Tom Buckley)
Dick Mansfield Button "Along with Pick, we had annual visits from magician Dick Gray and Police Sgt. Mike Mansfield with his Safety Care-fuliers. Sgt. Mansfield should've had a kid show. He played piano, sang, told jokes and stories. He had great chalk talks, drew pictures and  was a wonderful kid's entertainer."


Pick's 1955 Safety Ranger Card (Front)
Pick Temple 1955 Safety Ranger Card (Back)
Will Ravenel writes: "As I recall, Giant Rangers who wanted a shot at being on the show had to fill out a card you got at a Giant Food Store and send it in to the station. At the end of each week's Giant Ranch show, Pick would mosey on over to one of those ubiquitous cylindrical wire cages where the thousands of cards that had been filled-out were stored. Pick or one of the visiting rangers would turn the drum over-and-over until all the cards were fairly mixed; then Pick would reach-in through a trapdoor on the side of the cage and take-out a couple of huge handfuls of cards and put them in his hat. Presumably these kids would be sent tickets to be on the show the following week.

Giant Food Brown Paper Bag Logo, Donated by Jack Maier

I filled out a card from the BradLee Shopping center Giant store in Alexandria. My invitation appeared the following week.

My dad picked me up early from school, took me to the WTOP studio and left me with the creepy studio guys. All the parents left for another area where they watched the action on the set. The other kids and I were in the standard kid western outfit of the period-- two six-guns in holsters, dungarees, and cowboy hat.

There was one studio guy -this MEAN sort of guy- who briefed us all on how to act on the show. RULE #1: no caps in your guns. RULE #2: don't scream and yell that you can see yourself on the monitor or we'll turn the monitor so you can't see yourself at all. RULE #3: stay put in the Peanut Gallery [sic] unless Pick calls you out. And if we DIDN'T behave, we'd NEVER be invited
BACK! He pointed out this one kid to us who, he claimed, had been on the show SEVERAL times because he knew how to be a good little boy; so if we wanted to return lots of times to the set, we had to be good. The prospect of being cast from the set or barred from returning hit home. We all got very quiet.

WTOP-TV Broadcast House 1955 from Broadcast News Magazine (Courtesy: Dave Statter)
Broadcast House, WTOP-TV 9
(Courtesy: Dave Statter. From "Broadcast News" 1955)
The scary guy led us onto the set. Pick wasn't around. I walked past the target range where there'd be balloons for some lucky kids to fire at. There was a loft of bleachers ahead on our right where we all sat down. I sat next to some kid who was making a spectacle of himself early on; I thought for sure they'd think we were brothers or something and give us the boot. The scary guy barked at us to be quiet--the show was starting soon.

At the other end of Pick's set was the set for Ranger Hal-- the tree stump (or whatever) Oswald was perched on. ...And you could see the ladder Ranger Hal climbed down at the start of his show, presumably from atop his ranger station. Disappointingly the ladder went up only a few rungs and just out of camera range.
They'd tricked us! Ranger Hal was NOT shot on location!

Then all of a sudden Pick and Lady, his collie, ran onto the set! In color! All those black and white shows on our TV would never be the same after this. We kids went berserk when they came in. He picked up his guitar and we sang 'My favorite bread's Heidi....' together while the camera panned across our faces. Then we repeated the Ranger's oath, the words to which I can't remember.

Pick introduced Lady to everybody. On every show he'd have her take a bow, and ours was no exception. Lady was cool.

From Broadcast News Magazine, 1955 (Courtesy:Dave Statter)
Boom mic on the set at WTOP-TV 9
(Courtesy: Dave Statter. From "Broadcast News" 1955)
Pick asked if 'Mike_____' was among us. The loud kid next to me jumped-up and ran screaming down to the front to get on Piccolo, this tiny horse. Pick helped him into the saddle and said, 'So your name's Mike? We have a Mike right here on the show.' And, as if on cue, the overhead boom microphone (shown above) lowered to just above this kid's head. Pick told the kid, 'Mike, say hello to mic." The kid said 'Hi' and the mic moved to indicate that it was saying 'Hi' back. Pick asked the kid to look in the camera and say 'Hi' to all the folks at home. The kid rattled off the name of every person he knew until the cow mooed and he finished with, 'Hi, everybody else'. Pick led the kid an Piccolo around the set, and the kid got off and returned to his place next to me.

About this time, Pick did an intro to the Kit Carson western to be shown next. At home, you'd hear pounding of horses hooves riding in from a distance; then you'd see some saddlebags being tossed in Pick's general direction, as Kit would ride off again. More adult fakery-- in reality it was a PRE-RECORDED galloping horse and a stagehand tossing the saddlebags our way. I was taking part in a charade; it was a little demoralizing. How could I face my sisters later and confess that I had taken part in the Big Lie?

We were all prepped beforehand to yell,'Hi, Kit!' when the sound of the horses hooves approached and "Bye!", waving madly, as they receded. At this point Pick cued the Kit Carson film by telling us rangers to get out our 'shootin' irons and blaze away!' As everyone unloaded on the camera, Kit Carson's movie began.

Pick Temple at Channel-9 in 1952 (Donated By Jack Maier)

A couple of kids hadn't emptied the caps out of their pistols as told and their caps made a real racket on the set; this didn't go unnoticed by the scary guy who approached the offenders and told them to empty their weapons. These kids weren't going to see this show from inside the TV set ever again; the scary guy was sure to put their names on a list of banished children.

I saw Pick smoking a quick cigarette while the film ran; posed on a mobile western-style rustic wooden fence, one foot on a
bottom slat, his forearm leaning casually forward on the top. 

Stagehands had turned the monitor back around so we could see the screen. Suddenly I saw Pick on the monitor and behind him a bleacher full of Giant Rangers. I laced my hands behind my head and moved my elbows from front to back, over and over, until I found myself-- on TV-- at last.

 Pick welcomed kids at home back to the ranch. Some kids in the studio, though, interrupted him, yelling they could see themselves on TV; others were drawing his attention to Oswald Rabbit. The scary guy turned the monitor screen away from us again.

Pick Temple & Cub Scout Sharpshooter (Circa: Dec.1957) Courtesy: Jack Maier

Time for four kids to leave the bleachers and fire at balloons affixed to the top of the shootin' range. There was a hole in the bottom of the range from which the Invisible Duck would appear at odd moments-- for years-- and bedevil Pick. The duck ONLY appeared when Pick looked away, so the kids went NUTS trying to get Pick to see it. Whenever Pick would turn back around, the duck would have disappeared inside the hole. I wanted the duck to come out of that hole that day, but it never happened.

 As we filed out of the bleachers and past the shootin' range, I made a point of straying far enough out of line to see behind it. The stagehand who'd sat there during the show with a pin, popping kids' balloons, was gone; but his tiny black and white TV was on the floor and tuned to WTOP. BEST OF ALL-- the Invisible Duck was on the floor! That was totally cool--of all the kids there that day, I alone had seen the Invisible Duck.

Pick and the scary guy were at the exit, handing us bags of goodies from Giant Food. Pick handed me mine and looked right into my eyes. He seemed almost shy. It was weird.

When Pick died, my younger sister sent me the obituary from the Washington Post. A lovely tribute too. What a great guy."

Dr. L. Parker Temple III (Pick's son) comments: "Will Ravenel has an incredible memory -- everything is accurate, particularly
from the kids' perspective.  ... He did see my dad smoking.  Dad was at about a pack a day most of his life.

The mean guy who did the 'warmup' to explain the rules -- we had several, and they doubled as the main puppeteers.  ... Some of them were girls, I should add.  The one who made it big is now a newscaster in Washington DC; John Harter, who appears on
Channel 7, which is now WJLA.  Their role was mandatory in order to ensure the set was not chaos.

As for the Invisible Duck -- we had a monitor behind the stage where we did the puppets, so we could clearly see when Dad was turning towards us.  He usually tried to catch us, though, and it was a real test of our reflexes to get the Duck out of sight before he looked.  Let's face it, you had to have games to keep the show from being the same every day, and these also helped
maintain a high degree of spontaneity."

Giant Food ad from the Fairfax Herald of 10/1/54
Giant Food ad from the Fairfax Herald paper 10/1/54 
(Donated by Jack Maier)

Although the show jumped stations twice during its DC run, the sponsor remained Giant Food, after they bought the rights to produce the program in 1953.

Heidi Logo
Skip McCloskey recalls; "I was on the Pick Temple show.  I don't remember much... except it was a rainy day and the best part was getting home and going thru the Giant Food/Heidi goodie bag that everybody got...  the chocolate chip cookies were the best!"
Heidi Ice Cream Carton Logo
(Logos Donated by Jack Maier)
Giant Food and Top Value Stamps
One audience game was "Blow-off the Top Value Stamps stuck on the tip of your nose". (With every store purchase. Giant awarded yellow "TV Stamps" for free gifts )
Jim "Lazymoon" Gscheidle recalls that a lucky Giant Ranger would get to play marksman. In order to win some dumb prize, the kid fired a prop six-gun at a fake snake which popped out of a rock wall. Once, though, when Pick told a cowpoke that his bullets had all missed the snake, the kid allegedly yelled something like 
"Come on, Pick. Give me another shot at the sunuvabitch!"
=Nancy Hill Gamroth, who grew-up in Takoma Park, remembers; "Whenever they were ready to go to a cartoon, we got to shoot our guns (pow, pow, pow!) and the cartoon would show... 'Shoot for the cartoon'.... I loved this show too!"
Pick Temple's 10th Anniversary (Donated by Jack Maier)
(Photo Donated by Jack Maier)
Dave Statter shares a quote from Mark Y. Herring's review of "Deep Truth: The Lives of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein",
a book by Adrian Havill:
  "Carl played guitar on The Pick Temple Show at age nine.
On one show, he played to two girls by the name of
Julie and Tricia... Nixon."
Sunshine Sue of Richmond, VA (Donated by Park Temple)
(Photo From Pick Temple's Album, Donated by Park Temple)
Pick's son, Park Temple, shares this photo of "Sunshine Sue"
(hailing from Richmond, VA) who served as occasional substitute hostess on the WTOP-TV 9 run of the Giant Ranch program.

A writer to Dave Hughes' DCRTV Mailbag adds that Sue was "Mary Arlene Higdon (Mrs. John Workman)... the emcee of WRVA's Old Dominion Barn Dance. Virginia's Governor William Tuck crowned her 'Queen of the Hillbillies.'" 

Contributor John Ahmad's wife Kitty vividly remembers "Sue". Kitty attended the program on her 6th birthday, August 1, 1956.  She had expected an automatic birthday ride on Piccolo, but didn't get her wish as Sue was filling-in for Pick that day. 

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"Pick Temple"
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"Pick Temple"
Additional Sources: Jack Maier, Park Temple, Will Ravenel, Skip McCloskey, Pat McKenna, Tom Fielding, Tom Buckley, Tim Hollis, Dave Statter, Jimmy Gscheidle, K.J. Armstrong &  Bob Benedik (Rifleman tape). 
Airtimes from the Evening Star and Washington Post papers.
"Pick Temple"
6 Pages:
6 David P. Samson (left) as Elmer Fishpaw in John Waters' POLYESTER
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Page Revised: 8/26/04

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