As disconcerting as it is to awaken with a compulsion to recall the seating chart of my freshman English class (see below), at least that need is rooted in actual experience. By a conservative estimate, I spent at least 150 hours in that classroom. (For anyone interested in interviewing me for a management consultant position, I’ll be glad to talk you through how I arrived at that number, since it’s the process and not the answer that interests you.) That’s a significant amount of time, and even though it occurred twenty years ago, I can rationalize why some of it might still occupy my neurons.
Not the case, a few mornings ago, when I awoke with the phrase “Goober and the Ghost-Chasers” running through my head over and over. That lasted through my morning jog, my drive to work and about half my workday. Goober and the Ghost-Chasers, Goober and the Ghost-Chasers, Goober and the Ghost-Chasers. Unpleasant, right? Especially since I had only a vague idea about what Goober and the Ghost-Chasers was until I did a little research.
What I did know was that Goober and the Ghost-Chasers was a Scooby Doo knockoff. I was never a Scooby fan as a kid, but I have certainly seen many episodes. Presumably, I’ve seen at least one episode of Goober and the Ghost-Chasers, though I have no conscious memory of it. According to IMdB, not only was GatGC a Scooby knockoff, it was a knockoff created by Hanna-Barbera, the same creators of Scooby. No word on whether or not they sued themselves for copy write infringement. Whereas Scooby was a cowardly Great Dane who ran from danger, Goober was a cowardly greyhound that turned invisible in the face of danger. Also, Goober was green. Clever. Both hung out with investigative teens including, in the case of Goober, some of the Partridge family.
Paul Winchell performed the voice of Goober. Winchell’s IMdB page reveals an extensive cartoon voice career. Most notably, he was the voice of Gargamel in The Smurfs and of Tigger in numerous Winnie the Pooh TV specials and movies. Winchell died in June of this year, and this, I do vaguely remember, because the long time voice of Piglet from Winnie the Pooh, John Fiedler, died one day later. I’m certain, however, that no news articles chronicling this bizarre, macabre coincidence contained any tidbit like, …and of course, Winchell was the voice behind the much beloved, Goober, of Ghost-chaser fame.
Winchell’s mini biography page on IMdB is surreal. He attended Columbia University, then studied and practiced acupuncture and hypnosis. In the 1950s, he became “the most beloved ventriloquist of the children of the USA.” (Many conservatives in this country revere the 1950s as a simpler, better time. Americans should ask themselves if they really want to return to a time when any ventriloquist was beloved.) His puppet sidekicks, Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff, are now in the Smithsonian Institution. He published the book "Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit" in 1954. Don’t bother reading it, I’ve tried, without success, to have fun or make money with ventriloquism.
But wait, there’s more. Winchell was an amateur medical inventor who patented an artificial human heart! Holy shit! In addition, he held patents on over 30 devices including: a flameless cigarette lighter, an invisible garter belt, a method of breeding Tilapia fish so that poorer countries could feed their citizens, an indicator to show when frozen food had gone bad after a power outage, an automobile that runs on battery power, and the disposable razor which he neglected to patent. Like Wikipedia, IMdB is user edited, so I can’t help wondering if Mr. Winchell was a crazy liar that managed to slip in a fantastical biography for himself.
Whether he was or not, I’m still no closer to uncovering the reason for my fixation on Goober and the erstwhile chasers of ghosts.