Bugs Bunny and Chopin make a Looney pair

Published 5:03 pm Monday, November 1, 2021

Last Saturday morning Milt and I were almost late opening the museum. It was 10:30 before we knew it and we had to open at 11:00.

We recently discovered a cache of old Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies and other cartoon shows featuring Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Mighty Mouse, The Jetsons, Bullwinkle and Rocky the Flying Squirrel, The Road Runner and so many of our old childhood favorites.

So, we got a box of our favorite cereal and a big bowl of milk and we got lost in the wonders of many years past and also lost track of time.

We also realized by watching these cartoons what a great education we received at Washington Elementary School here in Washington. It is where we were introduced to wonderful music and literature and while we didn’t quite realize it then, we appreciate it now.

Years ago, when I tried to explain our childhood Saturday morning cartoon ritual to our grandchildren Ricky, Kyle and Jonathan, they didn’t quite get it. These guys have grown up with I-pads, tablets and computers and have had access to any cartoons and kids shows they wanted, at any time.

I knew I had to take another approach to let them know why cartoons were special to us. All of our grandchildren are musically talented and, like my own children, have grown up listening to classical music.

I thought I would ask them to watch a few of the old cartoons with me and see if they could pick out any great classical music movements.

One Saturday during their summer vacation when they visited Milt and me when we lived in Burlington, New Jersey, I found a cable station that had a lot of the old cartoons.

I told them when Milt and I were in elementary school, our teacher Miss Mary Randolph, taught us a lot about music.  Not just the musical scale or how to identify notes. She taught us folk songs, hymns and songs from other countries, and played records by classical composers.

That’s where I learned the names of Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel, Brahms, Amadeus and many more musical geniuses. I really didn’t appreciate it then but when I got to college, all that Miss Randolph taught me helped me to breeze through a classical music course.

One thing I readily learned to identify in that class was all the great classical music in cartoons, movies and television shows. Now with Ricky and Kyle who were slightly curious about our trivia game, I asked them to watch a Bugs Bunny cartoon and several others and name the classical pieces they heard.

The ones they quickly identified were ‘The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini and The William Tell Overture by the same composer in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Then they realized The William Tell Overture in a cartoon was the same music they heard in the beginning of the Lone Ranger Show.

Other Looney Tunes cartoons we watched that morning featured The Flying Dutchman Overture by Richard Wagner, The Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss11, and The Minute Waltz by Frederic Chopin.  They were somewhat impressed and began pulling up more cartoons to search for more classical music.

Saturday mornings are even more special to Milt and I now as we watch the cartoons and realize how rich they were with childhood fun for us but also how they gave us a wealth of musical knowledge.


Leesa Jones is a Washington native and the co-founder and co-executive director of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.