The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Tales of Old Big Sandy: TIM GODFREY'S "TV LAND" - A Fun and Friendly Doorway to a Cartoon World


October 21, 2020

I honestly don't know how to describe Tim Godfrey to those who may have never known the man. He was a Big Sandy mainstay in the '60s, '70s, and '80s, hilarious and unpredictable. He was brilliant in his field. He could talk a Zenith television into fixing itself. He was not from the land of milk and honey, but from the land of milk and ice cream instead. He was upbeat, wry, sardonic, clever, a little bit sinister in the fashion of the Tasmanian Devil on the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. And yet he was every bit as sharp and quick-witted as Bugs himself.

He was the perfect kid show host but lacking the kid show. For me, a kid who felt like he never quite fit in, Tim Godfrey seemed like someone had kidnapped Captain Kangaroo, shipped him off for a tour in Vietnam, dropped him at Woodstock for the weekend, then plopped him down a block off Main Street in Big Sandy and said, "here you go, man, make the best of it." Old Big Sandy was a cult of personality, and Timmy was at the forefront of the wave.

I apologize, but I cannot write a straightforward, sensible article about Tim Godfrey. He was Mork from Ork before Robin Williams ever got on the business end of a TV camera. He was Mister Fix-it with a snide remark and an impish grin as he made your busted air conditioner live again. Tim Godfrey was involved in three conversations in his head at all times, and at least one of them was out of this world.

He was a marvel to me when I was a kid. He was just what the doctor ordered to a youngster with an offbeat imagination, because Timmy knew, beyond a doubt, that the world was only a real place about half the time. He stepped in and out of that world at will, like the Wizard of Oz abandoning the curtain or Mister Peabody turning the Wayback Machine off and on and off and on. If it sounds like I am babbling nonsense, you are probably right – but if Tim Godfrey were here, he would know exactly what I am talking about.

Timmy was like Willy Wonka on a tight budget, fresh out of chocolate but equipped with a half-gallon of Meadow Gold vanilla ice cream to make up for it. If you had something electronic and it didn't work, he would fix it – but not without giving you a little slice of the absurd along with the bill, as a sort of attitude adjustment at no extra charge. When I was an adolescent, he decided to badger me about how my ears stuck out. There was no malice in it; he had the coolest sense of humor of any "grown-up" I knew. We would be standing in his shop (TV Land, like some mythical place somewhere out beyond the moon where there was a television everywhere you looked), and he would ask me, "what are they talking about up at the gas station?" as if with my big ears I could hear them a half-mile away at the Pratt & Svenn service station. I would tell him, "well, Cliff and Budd are trying to figure out what to do about you, and Ebby; he isn't saying anything because he never does." Tim would get this sideways grin on his face and go back to having a normal conversation with whatever normal person happened to be in the room. He was all about the give and take.

The bottom line is this: Tim Godfrey was exceptionally good at what he did for a living, and he was also exceptionally good at making you laugh at yourself, and just feel good about being alive. When I was a youngster feeling a bit out of place in the real world, he made that real world into a live-action cartoon for a little while. He drove around town in goofy-looking vans with a funny look on his face and, you could almost hear it . . . a song in his heart. He might fix your air conditioner or TV and also demonstrate some wrestling moves for you on the shag carpet in the living room. He might spin you a tale of rapid-fire nonsense that would make your senses reel as he was headed out the door.

Tim was living proof that life is serious, but it is also a laugh waiting to happen, and if you were smart, you would keep one foot in each of those worlds and balance it all the best you can, for as long as you can, and never, ever look back.

Every now and then, I cannot help it. I just miss the guy, I really do. And if you knew him, and you think about it for a second, I bet you miss him too. He has been gone for almost thirty years, but he can still make me laugh.

People are not immortal, we come, and we go. But the laughter that we leave behind, that goes on as long as we seek to keep it alive. Even without big ears, you can still hear it in the nooks and crannies of Big Sandy: the laughter that lived inside Tim Godfrey.


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