The middle of the last century saw a plethora of playthings that could bend and twist and easily amble down a staircase, one stair at a time. A trio of toy titans, all ending in the letter -y, whimsically enough, went on to become classics of a child's playroom.
And while we adore Slinky and Silly Putty, only Gumby has got a smile, a horsey pal named Pokey, and a complete mythology that, in many ways, resembles and satirizes and pays homage to our human world.
Citrus College in Glendora, recognizing, as many of us do, his sheer superstardom, will pay homage to Gumby in honor of his 60th anniversary.
That's right: Gumby is going full museum, as in the Hayden Memorial Library Art Gallery, for a month-plus run.
The dates are Tuesday, Sept. 1 through Friday, Oct. 16, and the icon-awesome show will include a wealth of Gumbyology, including "original stop-motion puppets, sets, props, and archive photos," images that "cover the rich 60-year history of Clokey Productions/Premavision," the company behind the green dream that is Gumby.
Joe and Joan Clokey are the benefactors behind the sweet exhibit. Art Clokey, Joe Clokey's dad, the man who brought Gumby to a grateful world, also created the kid's classic "Davey and Goliath."
If strolling the aisles of the gallery leaves you greedy for more Gumbying, get back to Citrus College from Friday, Sept. 18 through Sunday, Sept. 20. The Citrus College Gumby Fest Stop Motion Festival will include screenings, a 60th birthday bash for Gumby at 4 p.m. on Saturday, emerald-hued collectibles, and a number of free panels featuring speakers knowledgeable in the art of stop motion as well as kidly television.
Joe Clokey will also be on the grounds, presenting "Gumby Through the Years."
And, yes, you know your TV history: Gumby and Pokey were, at first, small-screen superstars before they made their successful way to the toy aisles of the nation. So to cast them as toys, among the other bendy favorites of the 1950s, isn't the full story.
But, like Slinky and Silly Putty and the mid-century marvels that we still not only recognize but treasure today, Gumby made the perfect plaything for the age of optimism. We think of his big grin, and we picture him having adventures with Pokey at his side, and in general serving as a sweet ambassador of another more innocent age, one that still possesses clay-cool cred.
Any person anywhere who doesn't immediately shout out his name, complete with exclamation point on the end, upon encountering his image, whether it is on a toy shelf or on a movie screen or at a festival or in a gallery, might need to reconnect with their childhood spirit.
Wait, though. Does such a person exist? The person who doesn't shout Gumby's name, gladfully and gleefully? Regardless if they're currently a kid, or were a kid when the pliant-of-limb legend made his "Howdy Doody" debut? We're dubious.
Happy 60th, Gumby. We'll never not greet you with the fizzy excitement you have long earned as one of the cutest characters on the shelf.