LIMA ‚?? When Don Williams married Rosemary Hardy in 1945, they settled into simple family life. Don Williams was a municipal court bailiff, was involved in the Jaycees in town and was in advertising sales for radio station WIMA.But Don Williams' life took a turn when one of his regular clients, Meadow Gold Dairy, wanted to be involved in a children's show. He brought this back to the office, where it became obvious that Williams would have to do this project himself.And he was certainly able.‚??Don was very talented,‚?Ě said his wife, Rosemary, who goes by the nickname ‚??Rye.‚?Ě He could change his voice to present many different characters, and he came up with a children's radio program that was backed by the dairy. It was aired at 4:45 p.m. weekdays and 9:30 a.m. Saturdays on WIMA, according to a July 8, 1949, newspaper advertisement. It was called the ‚??Sammy Squirrel Show.‚?Ě‚??He started the show 18 months ago to fill a spot at radio station WIMA,‚?Ě a March 22, 1951, newspaper story reported. ‚??He then promised the kiddies a party. After he made the promise he found he had to have something to show the children when they came to the party. Puppets were the answer. Mrs. Williams stayed up the night before the affair and fashioned the puppets. They've lasted.‚?ĚRye Williams and son, Ted Williams, remember this vividly.‚??So, we had to come up with puppets,‚?Ě she said. ‚??I just knew I had to go to work.‚?ĚThey first tried papier-m√Ęch√©, which failed. They moved to stuffed puppets with wooden heads.Ted Williams remember his father carving the puppets' heads with a Dremel tool while his mother sewed furiously.Don Williams was really particular about how the characters should look, Rye Williams said. One of her attempts didn't pass muster.‚??I threw the thing at him, and I went out and cut bushes, I was so mad,‚?Ě she said, laughing.The original characters were Sammy Squirrel, Billy Bull and Sylvester Skunk. They were joined by Ollie Owl ‚?? who gave a news report on WOO radio and carried an Owl Tech pennant ‚?? and Hector Hawk and Willie Worm. Hector Hawk looks a bit intimidating, at least he did to a young Ted Williams.‚??When he was carving this one,‚?Ě he said, gesturing to Hector, ‚??I wouldn't go down in the basement.‚?ĚWillie has an electric cord, as his light bulb eyes light up.‚??He worked it with his foot,‚?Ě Rye Williams said of the switch. ‚??It looked like a doorbell.‚?ĚWillie also ‚??played‚?Ě harmonica, which of course was Don Williams playing behind the scrim.The family figured out a stage, made out of pipes and corduroy hanging like curtains, and Sammy Squirrel went on tour around town. A sample case from Rye Williams' father, a traveling shoe salesman, was put into use for the puppets and props. Don Williams presented the show to various groups and clubs, many of which are noted in newspaper notes in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This local fame soon turned regional.‚??Sammy Squirrel will invade Chicago Saturday,‚?Ě a March 22, 1951, newspaper story reported. ‚??The Lima kiddies' favorites is slated to appear on television over station WBKB at 10 a.m. He'll be there for at least 13 weeks. Sammy Squirrel, a puppet, is the creation of Don Williams, a versatile, many-voiced Limaite. Williams announced Thursday the signing of a TV contract over the Chicago station. His half-hour show will be sponsored by Beatrice Foods Inc. Williams said Sammy is replacing ‚??Hopalong Cassidy' in the Saturday morning spot. Name of the new program is the ‚??Meadow Gold Ranch.' ... The TV contract is the climax of what Williams calls ‚??a lot of luck.'‚?ĚHe would spend three years there, taking the train and spending the weekends in Chicago and returning to his family in Lima during the week. There were a few tweaks, like Ollie Owl's transition to Oppie Owl to avoid ‚??Kukla, Fran and Ollie.‚?Ě Then in 1954, he would start his own show. ‚??Don's House‚?Ě aired on WHIO-TV out of Dayton, according to an April 25, 1954, story. The Williams family moved to Kettering. ‚??He was always home for dinner,‚?Ě Rye Williams said.Not quite a year later, the show was canceled, and Williams considered a spot on WLW in Cincinnati but decided not to pursue that opportunity. He didn't want to keep moving the family, his wife remembers.‚??He was a family man,‚?Ě she said.After ‚??Don's House,‚?Ě Don Williams came home to Kettering and settled into the insurance business and community life there. He helped start the Kettering Holiday at Home festival there. Don Williams died at age 59 in 1983 after heart problems, Rye Williams said. The ‚??Sammy Squirrel Show‚?Ě puppets were first displayed at the Kettering-Moraine Museum and Historical Society in 1998, and now they're back in the hands of the family.They bring back fond memories for the Williams family.‚??Come on over to Don's House, to Don's House, to Don's House, we'll have a lot of fun,‚?Ě Rye Williams sang, flashing a big smile when finished.
The ‘Sammy Squirrel Show’: Lima radio man took show to TV