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Observations from the Peanut Gallery

September 6, 2010  - By

By: Ron Hall

Most of you probably aren’t old enough to remember the Peanut Gallery. In the 1950s the Peanut Gallery was the small group of children comprising the studio audience during broadcasts of the Howdy Dowdy Show.

The children, perched in rows on bleachers just off camera, delightedly reacted to the antics of the show’s puppet characters — Howdy Dowdy, Mayor Phineas D. Bluster, the Flub-a-Dub (a strange creature constructed from a half dozen different animal parts), Dilly Dally and other characters I can no longer remember. Buffalo Bob, dressed in cowboy garb, directed this silly but entertaining ensemble, often playing to the youngsters for effect.

As I child, I loved watching the Howdy Dowdy Show, and would have loved to be in the Peanut Gallery.

I was not sure how the phrase originated, but my research revealed it described the cheapest section of the theather during America’s vaudeville era. That’s where patrons, buying the cheapest snack, peanuts, sat and, when displeased with a particular performance, would sometimes launch peanuts at the performer.

So, from the cheapest seats here goes:

— Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA, will be playing football on a bright red football field this fall. The rollout of the Sprinturf synthetic surface at EWU’s Woodward Field began Aug. 4. Boise State, of course, has been playing on blue “Smurf Turf” for almost a decade. Beauty being in the eye of the beholder, I’ll forego commenting other than to point out ironically both universities are located in the heart of the U.S. turfseed production region. If you’re curious, you can check out progress on EWU’s red field by clicking on its turfcam here .

— The Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) will celebrate its 100th year educating and helping grounds pros advance their careers in 2011. Each October the PGMS holds its annual conference at the Green Industry Expo in Louisville, KY. That’s well and good, but it seems to me that the interests of the PGMS and its members’ issues align more closely with the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) than with contractors. Wouldn’t it be nice if the PGMS and STMA discussed ways to cooperate, at least in terms of educational opportunities, facility tours and other matters of common interest?

— August signals pre-season football practice. Imagine if you can two-a-days on synthetic turf on a hot, sunny day. How hot can the air just above synthetic turf get? On July 6 just before noon, Geoffrey Croft of the NYC Park Advocates recorded a temperature of 171 F. at the Booker T. Washington Playground in Manhattan . . . too hot to even walk on. Thirty-nine football players (including 28 high school players) have died of heatstroke since 1995. Who within your organization determines when conditions (including the playing field) is too hot for practice or play?

— More communities are banning or reducing the use of synthetic pesticides on their public parks. Durango, CO, and Tinton, NJ, are among the latest cities heading that direction, both citing health concerns for the youngsters using the parks. If you haven’t already implemented a workable IPM program for your grounds and sports fields, get crackin’ on it. Once the issue of children’s health is raised in connection with the use of pesticides, discussions rachet up quickly.

OK, that’s about enough from the Peanut Gallery for right now.

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