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have fallen over a cliff over a thousand times. Bugs was a carrot-munching wisecracker with a northern accent that greeted most characters with the well-known catchphrase, “What’s up doc?” He was smart and funny, and we all enjoyed his antics, and his show taught all of us children of the sixties and seventies opera, without even knowing it.

Later in the morning on Saturdays, “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” came on — providing lessons for every moral quandary a youngster like me could face in life, though the characters themselves were young black males. The 30-minute shows (with lots of cereal commercials wedged between segments) were classes in ethics masked as entertainment. Based on comedian Bill Cosby’s childhood experiences, Fat Albert’s adventures in Philadelphia brought diversity to our Southern screens, and in doing so, Albert and his friends made our world a little smaller and our hearts a little more compassionate.

These animated shows were more than just cartoons — they were fertile grounds for my imagination to grow and flourish. Today, they are the shared experiences of my generation, as we recall the communal laughter of young friends and family members sprawled out across living room floors from Dublin to Dahlonega and from Valdosta to Vidalia.

Back then, I was warned that watching cartoons on the “boob tube” would rot my brain, but look at me now. My brain is intact. Instead, cartoons taught me that life — past or future — dances to the same human beat. Whether etched in stone, soaring through space, solving mysteries in a haunted mansion, growing up in the inner city, or outsmarting scoundrels like Elmer Fudd, cartoon characters will always fill my memory with happiness and the laughter of a bygone era.

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