Jolly Joe Kelly Flooded with Letters from Pet Pals

Photo from 1935 of Jolly Joe Kelly, host of the Jolly Joe and His Pet Pals children's radio show on WLS
WLS kids host Jolly Joe Kelly in 1935

"Tie a little string around your finger, so you'll remember me."

Thus Jolly Joe Kelly to his Pet Pals each morning at 7:30 a.m. CST. And throughout the country, Joe's Palsie Walsies do remember him.

From Tennessee to Ontario and from West Virginia to North Dakota, untold thousands of children start their days with Jolly Joe. That they love him goes without question. They write him wagonloads of mail. Through Joe's program, they exchange pets of all kinds ranging from parrots to shetland ponies.

They save their pennies to buy their mothers Christmas gifts; they write to unfortunate or ill fellow Pet Pals; they follow Joe's various sets of rules for conduct during the week. They show the keenest interest in Joe's three parts: Polly, the parrot; Scamper, the dog; and Whiskers, the kitten, which all appear with Joe each morning.

Testimony concerning the effectiveness of Jolly Joe's suggestions is found in letters from grateful mothers hailing his "Keep the Tablecloth Clean Week" or his "Pickup Parades." These are definite aids in housekeeping for busy mothers.

Joe's program, besides pickup parades, regularly includes dressing races in the morning limited to five minutes, community singing, the official birthday song each day, and stories of animal and pet heroism.

The loyalty of Jolly Joe's Pet Pal Club members was never more strikingly demonstrated than in the case of little Grace Erickson, 11, of Soldier's Grove, Wisconsin. Grace was a "stay at home pal" who had never left her bed.

When Joe told his Pet Pals about Grace, the result was amazing. From every corner of the country and from Canada and Mexico came cards and letters for Grace.

Packages, too, began arriving. From Fort Worth, Texas, came three dolls and a half-dozen handkerchiefs. The Girl Scouts of Newcastle, Indiana, each hand painted a Christmas card for Grace. A Sunday school in Kansas pieced a quilt.

From far and near came remembrances of all kinds under her room nearly overflowed with presents. Jolly Joe took up a collection and sent her a doll's wardrobe trunk. She received a total of 229 pennies from Pet Pals. A mother in Rochester, Indiana, sent her a radio so she could "join" Joe's club.

In all Grace received about 1,200 letters and postcards, a stack of storybooks, 50 handkerchiefs, several rings, bracelets and necklaces and 40 dolls.

Here's the Jolly Joe poem so many of you have asked for. It was sent to Joe Kelly by Mrs. A. P. Freeman of Ohio City, Ohio.

Put Off Town

Did you ever go to Put Off Town,
Where the houses are old and tumbled down,
And everything tarries and everything drags,
With dirty streets and people in rags?

On the Street of Slow lives old man Wait
And his two boys named Linger and Late,
With unclean hands and tousled hair,
And a naughty little sister, named Don't Care.

Grandmother Growl lives in this town,
With her two little daughters called Fret and Frown.
And old man Lazy lives all alone
Around the corner on Street Postpone.

Did you ever go to Put Off Town
To play with the girls, Fret and Frown?
Or go to the home of old man Wait
And whistle for his boys to come to the gate?

To play all day in Tarry Street,
Leaving your errands for other feet,
Is the nearest way to this old town,
To stop or shirk or linger or frown.

From Stand By, February 16, 1935

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