Could Miss Mar­cia see me?

The Catoosa County News - - WORSHIP DIRECTORY - David Car­roll

We’ve been hear­ing about how our smart phones and smart TV’s are spy­ing on us. We are told these de­vices can eaves­drop on our liv­ing room con­ver­sa­tions.

I know some peo­ple are trou­bled by this, but I’m rest­ing easy. If the Rus­sians and the Wik­iLeak­ers want to hear about my miss­ing socks, I hope they can stay awake, be­cause that’s about as ex­cit­ing as it gets.

Be­sides, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt like I was be­ing watched. Any­body out there re­mem­ber “Miss Mar­cia” Kling? Of course you do. She taught an en­tire gen­er­a­tion of Chat­tanooga area chil­dren how to read, write, and be­have on Chan­nel 9’s “Fun­time” show in the 1960s and 70s.

Our re­la­tion­ship be­gan, un­be­knownst to her, when I was a wee lad. I hadn’t even started first grade. You see, in an­cient times, we didn’t have Head Start, we didn’t have pre-K, and in ru­ral Alabama we didn’t have kinder­garten. If you were lucky (as was I), you had par­ents or older sib­lings who would teach you the ba­sics be­fore you started school. Still, they couldn’t cover ev­ery­thing. So it fell to Miss Mar­cia to show me how to tie my shoes, mind my man­ners and tell time. Oh yes, tell time. Clocks were for­eign to me un­til I fig­ured out that when the big hand was on the 12, and the lit­tle hand was on the 9, it was 9 o’clock: Fun­time!

Miss Mar­cia’s morn­ing kid­die show fea­tured games and songs with ac­tual chil­dren in the stu­dio (lucky them!). The high­light of each day was when she sang her own “Happy Birth­day” song. As we baby boomers know, this wasn’t the tra­di­tional birth­day song. It was unique to Miss Mar­cia, and fea­tured high notes most hu­mans can’t hope to reach.

Often, in the mid­dle of the birth­day song, she would stop play­ing the piano, look into the cam­era, and say, “Well hello Ricky, and Deb­bie, and Vickie…and David!” My five-year-old self would stare into the TV set and wave at her. She would play a lit­tle more mu­sic, and stop again. “I hope you’re be­ing good boys and girls, and do­ing ex­actly what your par­ents are telling you to do.”

Of course I was caught in the act, be­cause I was usu­ally up to some­thing. I knew I wasn’t sup­posed to get into the cook­ies, but Mom and Dad were busy else­where, and now Miss Mar­cia was look­ing through that TV screen: I was busted!

The good news is, since she was keep­ing a close eye on me, I de­cided I’d bet­ter “sit up and act right,” as we South­ern boys were told to do back then.

Miss Mar­cia hosted the show for fif­teen years, with one sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­rup­tion. In the early 1970s, she was di­ag­nosed with oral cancer. Her ab­sence was no­tice­able to her young au­di­ence. WTVC knew she was ir­re­place­able. Rather than try to come up with a sub­sti­tute host, the sta­tion ran non­stop car­toons on the show dur­ing her ill­ness.

What few peo­ple knew at the time was, this was no or­di­nary ill­ness, the kind where you just need a few months of re­cu­per­a­tion. Miss Mar­cia had to learn to speak again, from word one. This ex­tra­or­di­nary host­ess, who had spo­ken so clearly, would have to work hard to re­turn to this most vis­i­ble job. Our prayers were an­swered when she won her bat­tle, and we gladly wel­comed her back into our homes.

I fi­nally got to meet her as an adult. One day at the mall, I was with my sons Chris and Vince, who were five and two. I saw Miss Mar­cia, and said, “Guys, you’ve got to meet this lady! I grew up watch­ing her on TV!” She gave me a hug, and I in­tro­duced the boys to her. She made the

Fam­ily Ele­ton Chan­ning

and on Fri­day, April 7, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ring­gold De­pot, cor­ner of De­pot Street and U.S. High­way 41 in Ring­gold. The event is a fundraiser for the Pearl and Floyd Franks Schol­ar­ship Fund help­ing mu­si­cians achieve higher ed­u­ca­tion. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.shaream­er­i­cafoun­da­tion. ap­pro­pri­ate fuss over them. I didn’t see her in person again un­til about five years later, and this time I was alone. “Well, hello David, how are you?” And how are Chris and Vince?” As I’ve told that story over the years, I’ve learned, that my ex­pe­ri­ence was not un­com­mon. She re­mem­bers names like no one else.

Miss Mar­cia con­tin­ued work­ing for Chan­nel 9 for many years, be­fore step­ping away from the daily grind in 2013. She con­tin­ues her im­pres­sive record of help­ing ev­ery char­ity that comes her way.

I saw her re­cently at a lo­cal school, vol­un­teer­ing to read to stu­dents. I fig­ured it was a good time to share my story. “Miss Mar­cia,” I said, “You’re not go­ing to be­lieve this, but when I was lit­tle, I thought you could see me through the TV set.” She laughed, shook her head, and said, “Of course I could see you, David!” She was jok­ing. I think.

David Car­roll, a Chat­tanooga news an­chor, is the au­thor of the new book “Vol­un­teer Bama Dawg,” a col­lec­tion of his best sto­ries, avail­able at Chat­tanoogaRa­, or by send­ing $23 to David Car­roll Book, PO Box 15185, Chat­tanooga, TN 37415. You may con­tact David at

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