Woodsy Owl

Woodsy Owl

It is with great trepidation that I present today’s I Remember JFK memory to you.

You see, according to the legalese that I encountered in researching this particular piece of our pasts, I may be going away for a long, long time. Read on.

Woodsy Owl made his debut in 1970. That year was perhaps the pinnacle of the ecology awareness movement that had suddenly sprung up in response to the very dirty condition that the world, particularly the US, found itself in after all of that jet age progress. 1970 was the year that Iron Eyes Cody was featured in his unforgettable commercial decrying the effects of pollution.

Pollution was certainly on the minds of the nation’s youthful movers and shakers, and Woodsy Owl was introduced to get involved. That would be you and me, Baby Boomers.

According to Wikipedia, which has a terse, fraught-with-terror-at-breaking-federal-law entry on Woodsy Owl,

The “Give a Hoot, don’t Pollute” slogan was created in 1970 by US Forest ranger Chuck WIlliams, who was the Forest Service’s technical consultant for the “Lassie” TV show which featured a Forest Service ranger and his family. Williams, along with Glenn Kovar, also of the US Forest Service, and Harold Bell of Western Publishing (producer of Smokey Bear and Lassie TV show) then brainstormed the idea for the Woodsy motif.

TV commercials, magazine ads, and posters on school walls followed, and we kids were all soon chanting Woodsy’s catchphrase.

The ads were effective, too. I can recall any kid who would dare to throw a candy wrapper to the ground would be sternly rebuked by the ecologically conscious among us.

About this time, my favorite aunt signed me up for an annual subscription (faithfully renewed by her every year until I was fifteen) for Ranger Rick magazine, which also stressed taking good care of our environment.

The result was that I wouldn’t be caught dead tossing trash to the ground. And even today, I’m loath to toss anything out the window that won’t be consumed by a hungry animal. However, apple cores are occasionally contributed to the nation’s critters without guilt.

The leaner, meaner Woodsy Owl

The reason for all of the big-brother paranoia in this column? Well, the federal government recently decided to revamp Woodsy’s image. Perhaps in a politically correct decision aimed at discouraging corpulence, the newer Woody is slimmer, trimmer, and, notably, wears shoes.

Er, Woodsy is an OWL, right?

Anyhow, old costumes are to be (violently) disposed of as soon as possible, according to this USDA Forest Service directive. A frustrated author who may be a Boomer himself waxes about Woodsy’s new look at BoingBoing.

And, most frightening of all, note this federal law:

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 33 > § 711a “Woodsy Owl” character, name, or slogan Whoever, except as authorized under rules and regulations issued by the Secretary, knowingly and for profit manufactures, reproduces, or uses the character “Woodsy Owl”, the name “Woodsy Owl”, or the associated slogan, “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

Honest, officer, this is just a humble website. Please don’t shoot.

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