Time For Timothy
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Time for Timothy DVDs
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Where can I find Time for Timothy episodes to view?
You may view episodes by ordering a DVD of three episodes from the IndyFaith Store. You also may view individual shows at the Indiana Historical Society, or order dubs of them.
The Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis Store
At this time, the Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis offers one DVD of three half-hour episodes of Time for Timothy for sale to the public at $12.00 per copy, including shipping and handling inside the U.S.A. The three stories are described below. Note that you may request a discussion guide to use with your children following the viewing. You may order from the IndyFaith Store on this website's home page, or by mailing the order blank that follows the show descriptions.
“The One Eyed Ghost”
Timothy’s bike has been stolen. While he and Ezra walk, it starts to rain. Hesitantly, they find cover in a cave that is said to be the home of a one-eyed ghost. After discovering the ghost is a one-eyed owl, they hear a noise. It’s the robbers, who hide their loot and leave. The boys come from their hiding places to find bags of money. Before turning it in, Timothy is tempted to keep some.
The importance of heeding warnings comes home to Timothy, as he ignores tornado warnings on TV, and takes Kathleen to see Alvey’s amateur radio rig. They’re caught in the storm, but arrive safely at Alvey’s, while Rev. Matthew consoles Aunt Matilda, who is worried about them. The dam breaks, and the whole valley is flooded. After clinging to a log in rushing water, they and others receive Red Cross assistance, then find refuge in a synagogue, welcomed by rabbi Levi and volunteer hospital staff.
“The Land of the Gimme Goons”
Timothy and Kathleen complain that Aunt Agatha doesn’t give them fun toys. In Tim’s dream, he meets a magic rabbit who grants his wish to be in a land of gifts and toys. There, Tim and Kathleen find trees full of gifts. But each tree is guarded by a strange creature who wants to become a citizen, and giving is against the queen’s rules. Tim wants to become a citizen, plants a tree, and grabs his gifts – all but a doll. Kathleen asks for it, but Tim can’t give. The doll tells Kathleen that the citizens can say only one word, “Gimme,” and must serve the greedy queen. Tim and Kathleen run to escape. Tim gives Kathleen the doll, thus, breaking the spell. Back home, they plan a gift of helping Aunt Agatha.
Please send me _____ copies of your DVD of three episodes from the Time for Timothy TV series at $12.00 per DVD.
Enclosed is my check for ___________.
Please print clearly:
Street Address: _______________________________________
City, State, Zip:_______________________________________
Please mail this order to:
The Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis
1100 W. 42nd Street, Suite 345
Indianapolis, IN 46205 ______________________________________________________________
Indiana Historical Society
You also may view Time for Timothy episodes at no cost at the Indiana Historical Society’s library. Ask for Paul Brockman, who has filed the 151 episodes that are on individual DVDs. They must be viewed at the museum, but for a nominal fee, you may ask that a show be dubbed for you to take home or give to your church. The Indiana Historical Society is located at 450 W. Ohio St. in Indianapolis. The phone number for its library is (317) 232-1879. Please call ahead to be sure that Mr. Brockman will be available to help you.
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In 1957, a new station, WLW-I, Channel 13, anticipated a start date for broadcasting in the fall, and was looking for a new Christian Education program. The station approached Dr. Alfred Edyvean, Professor of Communication at the Christian Theological Seminary and Director of Communications for the Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis. Dr. Edyvean contacted Muriel Lee, and together, they started the “Timothy Churchmouse” series for children.
The first show aired on November 9, 1957, with host Bill Gantor and Timothy Churchmouse introducing a Sunday School teacher and her class. Lucy Bowden or one of the other early teachers read or told the children Bible stories in front of the fireplace and, at some point, Timothy came down the chimney to talk to the class. While the show was targeted to children in the primary age group, it was found that older children and adults also watched.
Muriel Lee became hostess in January 1958. The following two years, she was joined by Peg Roberts, and then Kathleen Haver in 1962-64. Each producer was responsible for a different area of production. During this period the show was tightened; the class time, shortened; music and singing, added; the live audience, eliminated; and Timothy’s role, increased. The series was taped and aired weekly in black and white from fall through spring, with the “David and Goliath” series taking its place in the summer.
When Muriel Lee left the show in June 1964, it was produced by a team of two, Peg Roberts and Kathleen Haver, and then, for a short time, by a team of four, Peg Roberts, Kathleen Haver, Helen Hoffman and Phyllis Newton. Puppet drama, interspersed with live characters, became the format. Now Timothy, with his cousin Kathleen, and their puppet friends were the main characters, often interacting with live adults in various character roles as the “staff” at the church where Timothy lived.
In the fall of 1967, under the direction of Eileen Ackman, the “Timothy Churchmouse” series began broadcasting in color, and many new volunteers were recruited as writers; artists for backdrops, prop-makers, puppet and costume makers; voices (referred to as “the talent”), and a business assistant. Some who had been with the show longer served as script editor, directors (one or more for the overall series, one for voices, one for music selection, and one for action performed to music), and a producer for each episode. With many new talents added, the look of the show improved ... starting with a new Timothy puppet, designed by Anita Cox. Workshops were offered from script writing to puppet making. Several of the volunteers joined Puppeteers of America and attended their festivals and workshops, always bringing back new ideas. During this time frame, the first live show was staged -- a special performance in 1968 for the Church Federation’s annual meeting.
While improvements were made, there were still problems to be solved. There were only a few videotapes available, and in order to tape a new episode, a previously recorded one had to be erased. The show was produced on four to five sets (indoors, outdoors, mock-animation in limbo, etc.), but only one camera was used -- requiring puppeteers to race from one set to another or to use identical puppets for the parts. While the volunteers held one rehearsal at the Christian Theological Seminary (CTS), where the props were stored, they were allowed only one run-through with a camera at the station before taping, and sometimes that camera wasn’t available. The show was then taped non-stop, with no editing. If a puppeteer’s head or hand showed, or if a prop, such as a tree, fell on a puppet’s head, so be it. With no editing, these errors were broadcast.
Molly Donaldson headed the 1969-70 season, assisted by Shirley Carpenter as business assistant. Production responsibilities were divided among more individuals and promotion was expanded, as via a project with the Girl Scouts (see below). Through the efforts of the Church Federation, the show was airing in 2 other cities in Indiana and now reached St. Petersburg, Florida as well.
Then in the fall of 1970, under leadership of Martha Allis, Productions Director/Script Editor; Shirley Carpenter, Business Administrator; and Bea Makurat, Puppeteer Director; the volunteer staff started making other changes to raise production quality and extend outreach. They formed the non-profit organization of PuppetVision, Inc., as the show’s producer of the series, inviting the 80 volunteers to join. (Each episode required the work of 25-45 volunteers, plus the work of the staff at the television station). To allow time for improved quality, they went to bi-weekly tapings, airing previously taped episodes in between. They used better puppets and fewer live actors, and made the scripts less “churchy”, changing the title of the series to Time for Timothy in order to attract non-church going viewers, as well as the children who regularly attended church. Each episode, through drama, taught or reinforced a Christian or Judeo-Christian value -- its goal: to teach through example rather than through preaching.
The station also helped improve production by using two or three cameras, and usually assigned one station director to a number of Timothy shows. Eventually, names of station personnel were added to the list of credits, creating added motivation for quality.
In 1972, Timothy received the Golden Mike Award from the American Legion Auxiliary for Indiana’s Best Local Television Program in the interest of youth. Also that year, Timothy was given the Honor Certificate award from Freedom Foundation.
In order to promote the television series and to raise money for videotapes (each 2" tape costing more than $100), a team of volunteers headed by Shirley Carpenter took live performances of Timothy into the community. The Junior League of Indianapolis sponsored 56 live performances in 31 inner city schools. Three live performances were given to the annual fund raising auction for WFYI. In addition, the Timothy road show went to 35 churches, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, the Salvation Army, the Indiana State Fair and other fairs, shopping centers, and various organizations.
An auxiliary to PuppetVision was formed under the direction of Bonnie Gray to give presentations to groups while seeking funding for Timothy. These efforts, along with the live shows, succeeded enough to buy tapes, allowing the series to have further outreach. Now shown on PBS, Channel 20, as well as on Channel 13, it was also bicycled to 22 other cities throughout the nation, including Tucson, Denver, Providence, Atlanta, Tulsa for 8 years, and New York City for 5 years. (During this time, the show was listed in NYC-TV Guide). The series also was carried by 259 cable television systems.
In addition to regular broadcast and live performances, Timothy grew through other outreach efforts. A mock taping of the show was demonstrated by a Girl Scout troop in a presentation to a state-wide Girl Scout convention. With a short script, the demonstration showed how various sets, numerous puppets and cameras were used. Timothy also visited many children’s wards in local hospitals. In addition, Timothy volunteers helped start the still active Indiana Puppetry Guild and held workshops for the public, inviting internationally recognized puppeteers, such as George Latshaw and Martin Stevens, to lead them. To further promote the program, from May, 1973, through 1980, Welcome Wagon distributed over 25,000 brochures which told about Timothy and recruited volunteers.
On a national level, two Time for Timothy episodes served as pilots for the Soaring Spirits project of American Women in Radio and Television, bringing closed circuit, quality programming into children’s wards in 43 hospitals nationwide. This project was sponsored by a grant from Sears and 3M, and included children’s series such as “Lassie”, “Big Blue Marble”, and others, as well as “Time For Timothy.”
In view of Timothy’s growing national outreach, the show’s executive staff eventually convinced Channel 13 to allow some time for minor editing. Occasionally, they would re-tape a scene that had a major flaw and, for special shows, they also allowed an extra taping session, as for a live performance by a costumed dancer.
When Channel 13 moved from 2" broadcast tapes to 1" tapes, Timothy’s resources were stretched to the limit, and some 2" tapes were not dubbed to 1". Channel 13 helped immeasurably by dubbing as many of Timothy’s shows onto 1" as they could while they still had 2" equipment. In addition, the Timothy staff was trying to dub the shows onto 3/4" video cassettes as the shows aired. Later, the episodes were dubbed onto VHS tapes.
By now, Sesame Street, with Jim Henson’s puppets, was becoming popular. With major funding to support its production quality, its look was far superior to that of Timothy's. Some felt that Timothy had grown as much as it could without a realistic budget to fund more studio time, better puppets and sets, and to pay its production staff enough to allow them to work longer hours in preproduction, rehearsals and performance on a steady basis. If professional quality was a goal, dependence upon a shrinking pool of volunteer labor was no longer feasible.
Meanwhile leadership in production changed to Bonnie Gray and Ruthann Lawrence in 1974 and then to Eileen Ackman and Carol Miller in 1976. In the fall of 1977, Pat McClure became Executive Productions Director and stayed in that position for 10 years, sharing the post the last two years with Carol Fleshood, then Cheryl Sparks. After a taping hiatus (1988-89), Eileen Ackman, Anita Cox Burck and Carol Fleshood shared the production leadership. Shirley Carpenter continued as Executive Administrative Director.
During these years, many changes impacted distribution and quality. With Channel 13 no longer paying for bicycling (which they had generously done before), other stations could not be approached. Also, the physical quality of older videotapes, with dropouts and lo-ban production, made them difficult for stations to air.
Yet, the show and its many loyal volunteers continued their work, year after year with meaningful scripts that reinforced Christian and Judeo-Christian values. One of the highlights of these final years was an episode on drug abuse, funded through a grant obtained by the Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis.
FCC rules had changed, no longer requesting television stations to produce and air public service programming. Because more women were returning to work, it also became increasingly difficult to find the number of staff members necessary to continue production. Channel 13 (now WTHR) expanded its news programming on Sundays, and moved Timothy to its subsidiary station, Channel 27. “Time for Timothy” ceased taping in 1992, but reruns continued airing through December, 1999.
In recent years, PuppetVision, Inc. has been renamed “Create-A-Vision, Inc.”. The Administrative Director has received individual donations to help transfer Timothy’s one inch broadcast tapes onto DVDs. In addition, Create-A-Vision’s “Reader’s Theatre”, a volunteer group of actors brought together by Martha Allis and directed by Eileen Ackman, contributed funds derived from its performances. The Indiana Puppetry Guild then donated sufficient funds to complete the dubbing of videotapes that were in good enough condition to be transferred, bringing the total to 151 Time for Timothy episodes now on DVDs. These are now available for viewing in the library at the Indiana Historical Society. Individual shows may be dubbed there for a nominal fee and taken home or to churches. The Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis also has a DVD of three episodes, with discussion guides, available for a reasonable price through its IndyFaith Store.
What is Time for Timothy?
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