Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Happy Wanderers

Some of you may recognize our Blog's Happy Wanderer theme from the TV show of the same name. Back in the mid sixties, The Happy Wanderers was a weekly travel log sponsored by the Ford Motor Company. The show focused on the backroad-ramblings of a jovial character named Slim Barnard. Each week, Slim and his wife Henrietta motored throughout the southwestern United States in search of adventure and beautiful scenery. And each week they produced a wonderfully artistic map of their travels which was available only at your local Ford dealership. The idea was for families to visit the dealer to pick up their personal copy of the map and get acquainted with all the new Fords. Though I was just a kid, I never missed Slim's adventures and would always prevail upon my mother to drive me to the local Ford dealer to get my maps. I was too young to drive, of course, but was simply planning for the future when I, too, would hit the road in search of adventure. The show employed a very distictive them song which I sing to this very day, usually as I wander the mountain tracks of California's San Gabriel Mountains. The music follows. Click on it once to make it larger. Click on your brower's back button to return to blog.


Here's the rest of the lyrics:

Words by Antonia Ridge
and music by Friedrich W. Moller,
copyright © 1954 by Bosworth & Co., Ltd.


I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.

CHORUS:
Val-de-ri, val-de-ra,
Val-de-ri, val-de-ra, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,
Val-de-ri, val-de-ra
My knapsack on my back (repeat last line of each verse).


I love to wander by the stream,
That dances in the sun,
So joyfully it calls to me,
Come join my happy song.

I wave my hand to all I meet,
And they wave back to me,
And blackbirds call so loud and sweet
From every green wood tree.

High overhead the skylarks wing,
They never rest at home
But just like me they laugh and sing,
As o'er the world we roam.

Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die,
Oh, may I always laugh and sing,
Beneath God's clear blue sky.

Click here to listen to the Happy Wanderer theme. User your browser's back button to return to this blog. Be patient, sometimes it takes a moment to start.

Slim was born in 1903 and has been gone from the scene since 1975, but he certainly touched my life way back then. He was the first one to really awaken the travel bug in me and I'll always be grateful. Here's a copy of one of his wonderful maps from his TV series, The Happy Wanderers. All these years later, I still have a large collection them.

7 comments:

dj in Virginia said...

Thanks for this memory.

I grew up in Los Angeles during the 1960s and fondly remember watching this show (especially remember the great theme and the friendly hosts).

For some reason, the show came to mind today, and through the marvel of the Internet, I came across your post.

I appreciate your taking the time to share this!

Cathy said...

Thank you so much for remembering those wonderful times with the Happy Wanderers. Not many people remember the show anymore. Slim had a hearty real laugh and Henrietta was his beautiful sidekick. They were real people who didn't use 'cue-cards' to tell the viewers how wonderful and sometimes educational this trips really were.

To see your tribute now is especially heart warming to me as their son and my father Lawrence C. "Larry" Barnard died on Oct. 19, 2008 God decided it was time from him to join them in heaven.

Thank you and please continue your travels....."I love to go a wandering along the mountain track....."
Cathy Barnard- Haro

Jennie Kelly said...

I came across some pictures and stories about Slim and Henrietta in our old North Shore News when they came down to do a story on the Salton Sea. They were enjoying breakfast at the North Shore Yacht Club here in North Shore.

The yacht club is just beginning renovation and will be open by the end of the year. The East Valley Historical Society will have a small museum in the club and I'm looking for any old photo's etc. that might be floating around. I'd love to get high resolution images if anyone has some to share of the "Happy Wanderers" at the Salton Sea and/or the yacht club. Maybe someone even has one of their famous maps I could get a copy of. I can be reached at EVHistoricalSociety at earthlink.net. Thanks, Jennie

T2 said...

Like you, I grew up in Southern California in the 60's and 70's and would watch their show religiously. I recall they would show silent 16mm films of their adventures while they narrated. Their son, Larry(?) joined in the on air narration in the later episodes. I recalled meeting them while hiking in the Cuyamaca State Park area in the early 70's, recognizing Henrietta immediately (she was quite the looker back in the day). They were friendly and still going strong well after the show left the airwaves.

Thanks for bringing back some great memories. I don't recall the maps, but what a treasure you've got there.

Sure wish there were rotoscopes of those old shows. They certainly would hold some images of places changed long ago.

adrienrain said...

Hello. I came across this site and was very pleased to find one of my Uncle Howard Burke's many maps that he provided for the Happy Wanderers TV show. My uncle was a brilliant cartographer and illustrator, who worked for William Randolph Hearst during WW2 and afterwards and also later did the weekly maps for this show. I hope you will amend your information to include his name as the creator of this work. I know Mr. Barnard would acknowledge him. Thank you, Adrien Rain Burke.

Anonymous said...

I remember this Happy Wanderers TV show and it was influential for my parents to buy a travel trailer. Which they did. There are vinatge video clips of that show in this video offered by Visiting...With Huell Howser #418 - HAPPY WANDERERS
Spend a day with the cast and crew of the very popular 50s - 60s TV travel show the "Happy Wanderers" and meet Slim Barnard's wife, Henrietta.
LINK:
http://www.calgold.com/visiting/Default.asp?Series=400&Show=231

Anonymous said...

I saw and talked for a moment with Mr Slim Barnard and his wife Henrietta in LA at a booth at an Auto and Travel show, it must have been the middle 70's. Huell Howser did a Calif Gold episode on the Happy Wanderer show, which he was kind enough to send me a VHS copy of in the middle 90's when I happen to mention it at a then KCET store appearance of his. I always liked that happy show, song and both of the Barnards, besides Slim's catchy laughter. Sure miss those old TV shows.