Tom & Jerry
By R.J. Smiley
As a human being, I feel fortunate to have lived through a transitional period in history. It may never be equaled.
Growing up, my family had the only telephone on the block. Our phone would ring and a relative of one of our neighbors would say, “Could you send RJ down the block to tell Suzie Schmidt her sister had a baby boy, 6 lbs 4 oz and he is healthy.” Because we had a telephone our neighbors used our phone to deliver neighbor news. This time period was after carrier pigeons and telegraph, but a lifetime before people have become constantly connected through their cell phone.
Back in those days of black and white TV, with only two or three channels, movies were the real entertainment. Going to the theater was the COOL entertainment. Before each feature movie started, the audience was entertained with a series of “shorts” (short little mini movies.) These shorts included World News and a cartoon. The Saturday matinee also had a serial. (Like a Netflix series made up of 15-minute episodes.)
Disney Land, Disney World and all the spin-off companies that entertain us today were started by cartoon maker, Walt Disney. Walt and his company invented the animated cartoon characters: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy (the dog), Donald Duck; while Walter Lance created Woody Woodpecker and William Hannah and Joseph Barbera created Tom & Jerry for MGM. These companies made a fortune making these extremely funny animated short movies where animals became human-like, but retained their natural animal-rival relationship.
Tom & Jerry (Tom, the Cat, and Jerry, the mouse) was always one of my favorites.
A short time ago I got an email with the Tom & Jerry, golf oriented, cartoon attached below. As I watched the cartoon for the first time, the smile on my face grew with each new scene. The humor of the well-choreographed depiction of everyday events on the golf course, reminded me of real-life on the golf course.
As you watch these critters on the golf course allow yourself to be reminded of golfers you may have known. The opening scene of the cartoon has Tom in a sand bunker flailing away; but the ball remains in the bunker.
As an author who has been writing “Critters On The Course” for Tee Times Magazine for over 10 years, I remembered the story of the toad who popped the ball out of the cup. The scene of the ball hitting the rock and bouncing back and hitting the golfer has played out many times over the years.
But the scene of Tom counting his strokes triggered the most flashbacks of the entire cartoon. Each of you will recall the many times that you have been a witness to scoring better with the eraser on a pencil than a golf club. I also loved the dive-bombing woodpecker. That scene brought back memories of a class reunion golf tournament where a red-tailed hawk attack created a special trophy for the victim.
As the cartoon’s story developed, I noticed the beauty and athleticism of Tom’s golf swing. Whether he is swinging from the left side or the right-side Tom’s balance is perfect.
Suddenly, my appreciation for the artistry of the production became apparent. During my second watching of Tom & Jerry I thought of the endless number of individual still action drawings that were necessary to create this cartoon character movement – BEFORE COMPUTERS!! Each frame of this cartoon required an individually drawn picture, with only the slightest changes, as the club or the ball is traveling.
The genius of Hannah Barbera and his artistic staff becomes even more evident as I rewound and replayed several beautifully created scenes. Jerry flying on the divot that became a Magic Capet with a bomb-bay door was one of my favorites. But the series of bees on the course brought back these memories: A hornet’s nest in a wooden water can holder that produced several stings before the hornet nest was discovered. An ambulance was called for a bee sting victim who had a reaction. I also saw a golfer get bit on the lip when a bee got into a beer can. I particularly enjoyed little Jerry’s use of a 150-yard marker sign to point to Tom hiding under water.
My favorite scenes in the entire cartoon were the mower that trimmed Tom with a poodle cut. Having a poodle for a few years made me appreciate how much it costs to have a beautiful well-trimmed French Poodle. Now poor Tom gets his with a run-away mower.
Take my advice and watch this Tom & Jerry episode from the 1950’s.