Posts Tagged ‘Mutant Teenage Ninja Turtles’

Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob

The Meaning of Words

I came across the word cowabunga recently, and it brought Howdy Doody memories floating through my head. For those of you a bit younger than me, Howdy Doody was a puppet with his own television show, which my children loved to watch.

 Howdy was created by Bob Smith – known as Buffalo Bob on the show –when Smith was a radio announcer, and later given a puppet’s body for the television screen.

The children’s show was pure corn – and I sometimes silently groaned when my children turned it on – and sometimes laughed along with the craziness.

But it wasn’t Howdy Doody who first uttered cowabunga. It was a character on the show in 1953, one called Chief Thunderthud, who used the then non-existent word.

Cowabunga, like the frabjous words made up by writer Lewis Carrol, took root, and today’s dictionaries define it as an exclamation used to express delight or satisfaction.

 Surfers adopted the word as slang for a great ride, and the word was also adopted by the Cookie Monster and the Mutant Ninja Turtles. These are all fun memories.

  The word, however, holds yet another memory for me, one closer to my heart. It was the favorite saying of my oldest grandson David, who is now in his mid-40s. As an adorable young boy, he used to stomp around shouting the word when he was excited about something — or wanted attention.

Years have taught me that the meaning of words has more to do with the people speaking them, or listening to them, than a formal definition. Because of David, my mind translates cowabunga as meaning joyful.

I also like the feel of how the word cowabunga rolls off my tongue. What’s one of your favorite words?

 Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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