In Memory of Jim Copp
Jim was a genius in the making of children’s records and one of the greatest creators of entertainment for children to work in any medium. The world is poorer for the loss of a creative artist of extraordinary wit, imagination, humor and integrity. The recordings he made with Ed Brown (who died in 1978) will live forever.
Fans are encouraged to e-mail their comments regarding Jim’s work to Playhouse at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN APPRECIATION OF JIM COPP
I was so sorry to hear that Jim Copp died in April. While growing up in California, my sister and I grew up listening to Jim and Ed Brown’s great stories from when we were quite little. I especially loved the forgetful Martha Matilda O’Toole, and that nasty teacher Miss Goggins! And now at age 42, I just recently found myself listening to some of my favorite Copptales in the car–and my 2 boys weren’t even along for the ride!
Silver Spring, Maryland
Thank you for the postcard notice of Jim Copp’s passing away. I sent the website address to my four brothers and sisters. Jim Copp and Ed Brown were a huge part of our childhood. We grew up overseas as our father was with the US Diplomatic Corps. There wasn’t much television in the parts of Asia we were stationed (Japan, Cambodia, Singapore, the Philippines, Iran). So instead, our family evenings were spent gathered around the record player listening to story records. Our favorites were the Jim Copp tales. We had every record. Now, in our 40′s, we all still recite whole passages from these remarkable stories – especially when we get together in our family reunions. Beyond that, certain phrases pepper our everyday vocabulary (“Everything works just fine! and “Looks like rain, Ducky!) No other words seem to describe moments quite as well (Oh, my pretty balloon! All busted, Boo hoo hoo!”).
Several years ago I called Playhouse records to get a set of albums for my own family. I was delighted to speak to Jim Copp himself!! In this brief interaction I felt I was re-united with an old familiar friend. It was a moment I’ll never forget. Our children have all been introduced to the wonders of these stories and so the magic lives on… And yet, hearing the news that Jim Copp is gone, I can’t help but feel as if I’ve lost a family member…and that my childhood is that much longer ago, and that much farther away…His presence will certainly be missed.
Clare D. M.
The story began in the 1960s when my sister sent a copy of Jim Copp Tales signed by Ed Brown and Jim Copp. Robert and I listened with our sons and loved it as much as they did. Robert and Ruskin, cut their teeth on Miss Goggins, Kate Higgins, Bossy Cow, and so much more. When we get together we usually do a family rendition of Miss Goggins in toto. My usual role is the off-key chorus of “I had a little doggy and his name was Mister Jiggs.” We were deeply saddened by the loss of Ed Brown now comes the news of Jim Copp. They left such a rich legacy. They certainly touched our lives. We treasure the memories and the recordings.
I am very sad to hear of his Copp’s death. And I’m very glad he lived and did the work that left us this delightful, smart body of work. I only wish I could have let him know how much I enjoyed his work.
Just a quick thank-you for acknowledging my tribute. “If you’re ever in a jam, just direct a telegram to the (wo)man in the union suit.” I love to think that I might be able to help maintain the posterity of the wonderful work of Copp and Brown.
Thank you very much for bringing back Mr. Copp and Mr. Brown. My mother bought my brothers and myself all the records when we were children and we all still listen to them. I now have three children of my own and we listen to the tapes in the car. I am so sorry to hear the Mr. Copp has past away. He will be missed. Keep up the good work. Maybe we can have another generation of “Everybody Needs Tickets!”
What can I say? The year I was born, my grandparents purchased the original “Jim Copp Tales” recording, with the story “Miss Goggins and the Gorilla” its most memorable band. Over the years the record was played until it very nearly wore out – and I do mean over the years: the record remained a humor favorite for all the adults in our family; I still find myself repeating “Kate Higgins, I regret to state, grew mutinous, one night at eight…” to cheer myself in the grey moments of life. Funny, this…it didn’t occur to me that there might be a “Jim Copp” presence on the internet until today…and here I am, learning this man who brought such joy into all our lives has passed on. The hilarious characters he created are immortal…but he shall be missed.
I listened to “Jim Copp Tales” as a child around 1960, and a testament to its musicality is that I remembered all of the songs 30 years later even though I had lost the record. Another is that my 1992-born daughter loves the music as much as I did (and do.) I was ecstatic to see an ad in the New Yorker years ago, and delighted that when I phoned in the order for another copy that I spoke with Jim. One question has plagued me and my wife. What is the end of the sentence(s) Miss Goggins says when berating the children after she says “You are stupid, disobedient, unruly, …” (editor: the word is vitupritive).
New York City
I would love to find some of Jim’s CD’s and cassettes for my grandchildren. The lyrics in the New York Times obituary reminded me of the old-fashioned humor and silliness which seems to be lost in today’s world. Please let me know how I can get materials so the girls will learn to laugh at really clever stuff!
I was so sad to learn of Jim Copp’s recent death. I logged on to the website to find out how to order Jim Copp Tales for my children. As a child of the 50s and 60s, I learned every story by heart and can still sing the song from Miss Goggins and the Gorilla. Thank you Ed Brown and Jim Copp for your delicious wit. You’ve been in my heart and mind the last 35 years and will certainly stay with me for the ages as I introduce my children to your wonderful tales. Happy trails and I hope we meet again.
Thanks, Laura – don’t know if my schedule will work out so that I can hear the NPR tribute, but I certainly appreciated your message. And I will indeed be in touch with you, to order the CD that includes “Miss Goggins and the Gorilla” and infamous-but-delightful “Kate Higgins”. Again, the timing is interesting: I recently gave my young nieces my old stereo system and a whacking great assortment of vinyl LPs – including the beloved Jim Copp record; as painful as it was to part with it, I couldn’t bear the thought of this upcoming generation missing out on something so fused into family lore. The tape I copied off for myself was inferior, as I don’t have the proper equipment – so you can imagine my joy to learn that this deliciously askew but charming world of Mr. Copp’s has made the leap into the current technology. My grandparents must have known something about me before I even made my earthly debut: they couldn’t have picked out anything that suited my temperament and sense of humor better than that 1958 recording. (My grandfather, Luke S. M. had a very wry sense of humor, so it represented characteristic taste on his part. He never gave me ordinary gifts…always things like seashell collections, miniature microscopes or toy saxophones! The Jim Copp record started this pattern off quite nicely.) Like most Copp votaries, I could probably sing-and-recite the entire thing if asked to! My mother also adored the record, and played it in later years to small fry in our neighborhood…children of the 70s and 80s who listened raptly to this undated wonder from another era. She died of cancer six years ago…I like to think she shouted “NOW EVERYBODY DANCE!!!” in heaven when she heard Jim had arrived.
The very best to you,
Jim Copp and Ed Brown were an ever-present influence on my youth. People often ask me where I got my strange sense of humor and my oddball way of looking at the world. I owe this bizarre gift to Mr. Copp and Brown, who amused me throughout my childhood – I’m a better (if a bit more twisted) person for it. For some reason the name Janet Hairbrush still makes me crack up, while other people look at me with a mixture of sympathy and puzzlement. I’m very glad I wound up this way. I never met Mr. Copp or Mr. Brown, but I did send them several fan letters as a child. They always wrote back, and not just with a pre-fabricated thank-you postcard. They answered each question I asked (or tried to), and as a six-year-old that meant a lot to me. In this day and age of inaccessible icons, I’ll never forget those two guys who took the time to write a thoughtful letter to a child they didn’t even know. They will be missed!
I am only 27, however, I grew up listening to East of Flumdiddle and have it committed to memory. Jim Copp was talented and encouraged children everywhere to be creative and expressive. Thank you Jim Copp.
A Mother’s memory:
It was Oakland’s Magnins. I was going into the children’s department because that’s where I used to buy my children’s clothes. There was displays of the records and they were playing the music. They had both made an appearance at Magnin’s but I had missed it but they had records left that were signed. I don’t remember what I bought then..Thimble Theater I think and maybe Fable Forest. I bought them because they were different from the usual kind of sugar coated music usually put out for children. They were droll, witty, just plain funny. I remember hearing the sheep being killed in the slaughter house as Bessie was approaching the ax….Baaaa ..clunk…Baaaa…clunk… It was just my idea of what children would come alive for. I remember mostly from my children….lots of giggles. I remember the sound of that wonderful clippity clop kind of music off in the distance from your room I guess while I was puttering around downstairs. It was a softened way to introduce you to some of the ways of society….and the family (The Glups) was so innocent and trusting….we’re off to San Franciscy…they reminded me of the way I felt about my father’s generation…the first wave of immigrants…arriving in strange places all trusting that things would work out for the best..onward through the unknown. Anyway, my children loved them, I loved them…it was a lucky break that I was there that day.
A Child’s memory:
We had been sick. My father was watching us when my mother came back from shopping. She had brought us records to listen to while we were ill. This is back in the mid 60′s. Most of our cartoons and stories were like frosted icing. We began to play and what came from the speakers amazed us. It was actually…funny. A mixture of tragedy and reality and humor. I felt as if both these incredibly talented men were right there in our room. They were speaking right to us. They had found the key to what really entertained us. The moments I shared with my brother listening endlessly to Jim Copp and Ed Brown will forever fuel my memory of a time when I was young. Rainy days indoors, we had two men that were waiting for us, anxious to make us laugh. Thank you Jim Copp and Ed Brown for being such an important part of my young life. Because of your insight into a child’s mind, you made my youth more precious.
What an inspiration it was for me to hear the music and lyrics of Jim Copps and Ed Brown, for the very first time; April 30, 1999. I have grandchildren and I will immediately order all Cd’s or tapes for them, but wondered why I had never heard of this man before, when my children were young. At least it’s not too late.
I was a member of Jim Copp’s 3rd Radio Squadron Mobile (G). When I interviewed him in 1996 to get his story about the unit’s history that now appears in “Code to Victory” I found out about his successful efforts to get his Detachment “B” out of Jalhay, Belgium before the German counter-attack during the Battle of the Bulge could overrun and capture his men. He also was busy at the same time calming the civilian population. That’s Jim Copp – the quiet hero.
New York City
Dear Friends of Copp:
I was so sorry to read in the paper last week that Jim Copp had passed away. I am one of the many who treasured the Copp & Brown recordings as a child. As recently as last Spring, I re-discovered their music through the Internet. At that time, Laura at Playhouse Records was kind enough to forward the following note to Mr. Copp.
Dear Mr. Copp:
I can’t tell you how excited I was to find the Playhouse web site last week! I ordered some of my favorite childhood recordings and re-introduced myself to your work. Although I hadn’t heard any of the songs in at least 25 years, I was amazed to find that I still remembered the words to most of the songs.
In the early 70′s my mother met you and your late partner Mr. Brown in a New York City toy store around Christmas time. You were promoting your latest album – Gumdrop Follies. You and Mr. Brown autographed my copy which I received that Christmas at the age of six. I literally wore out my copy. Not only did I play the record constantly, but I also made full use of the fold-out theater and cut-out characters to act out the action as I listened (my favorite was Mr. Hippity and his pull-toy).
The next year I received Schoolmates and loved it just as much. Your records kept me good company in my childhood and they became my favorites.
Over the years and through various house moves, I unfortunately lost all of my records. Over the last several years, I have periodically searched used record stores in vain trying to find replacement copies of those treasured recordings. Alas, I could only remember the names of the records and not your name (please forgive me). Last week I used the Internet to search for the words “Gumdrop Follies” and finally happened upon Playhouse Records. I ordered it immediately along with Schoolmates and two Greatest Hits CDs. They arrived on Monday and I have been playing them ever since.You simply can’t imagine how much I have enjoyed re-acquainting myself with your wonderful records this week. Although I am in my thirties now (and have a child of my own), this morning on the way to work, I listened once again to Mr. Hippity in his fruitless quest for junket and laughed out loud.
So – thank you for signing that great record so many years ago. Thank you for being a wonderful part of my childhood. Thanks for keeping the music available so that I can share it with my daughter Lucy as she grows up (she’s six months old now). And thank you for understanding that whimsy and intellect are not mutually exclusive – children need both.
Mr. Copp graciously responded to my note with an autographed copy of “Journey to San Francisco with the Glups” thus completing a loop in my family across generations. I’m sure that my daughter’s digital copies of the Copp & Brown records will be as loved as my old analog records. The other night we played her favorite, “The Duck, The Tiger, The Shrimp and The Owl” in joyful tribute to the sad passing of Mr. Copp.
Farewell, Jim Copp.
See you East of Flumdiddle.
I am of the TV generation. I watched way too much of it growing up, and I regret that. But I feel so lucky that someone gave my parents the Jim Copp Tales record and so lucky that my brother, sister, and I thought to listen to it. We would get together with family friends and listen to that record over and over and over again, acting each of the skits out and laughing until we cried over about Miss Goggins and all her other cohorts. I feel sad for all the kids who grow up today interacting with a TV or a video game, and not with each other, and I so glad and so grateful for all the fun that Jim Copps provided and now provides for my nieces and nephews. I’m so glad to have had his quirky sense of humor. To me, he was no less brilliant than Dr. Seuss.
I meant to call you when I heard you on NPR the other day reporting on the sad passing of Jim Copp. Thank you for bringing this amazing man’s amazing energy and wit to those of us who missed it as kids. I first heard the Agnes Mouthwash CD just after it was released, when my friend Henry Kaiser gave me a copy. I was a rabid fan within an hour. Of course, I wanted to give CDs to everybody I knew so I dialed up the Playhouse number on the booklet, little knowing that it was Jim Copp’s home number in L.A. I found myself chatting lengthily with Jim, the only time I actually spoke with him directly. But it is a memory I cherish as I listen again to Eula Mole and Teeny Tiny and all the other friends I intend to hang onto and perhaps introduce to my kids.
In fond memory,
Subject: Goodbye Mr. Copp
Every family has it’s own language – nicknames, secret slang, in-jokes. My family was rife with all of those. Nicknames especially. We were constantly bestowing nicknames upon each other and our dogs. Most of these were whimsical, some were mean – all were unique to us. Family language.
Other elements of our family language was borrowed. Odd phrases, bizarre jokes: “A man demonstrating soup – SLUURRRP!” Most of these, the good ones anyway, come from Jim Copp and Ed Brown. Their imagination, wit, whimsy and daring are on a level with the very best children’s literature. I grew up with their work, and it shows in my language. Thus over the years, whenever I found myself in love with a woman, I eventually found myself spontaneously reciting:
I like Lorenzo and Estelle, and Buck and Lizzie Sue,
And Charlie Gun is rather fun but I like you.
I like you very much, oh yes I definitely do,
I only wish the other kids were half so nice as you!
That’s from a Copp/Brown record called “Schoolmates.” My parents bought that record for us when it was new, and long after it was broken and lost, the material stuck with us. The cruel Mrs. Goggins, and the ingenious Dog Who Went To Yale, and the darkly sad/funny odyssey of Little Claude.
Now both Mr. Copp and Mr. Brown are gone, somewhere East of Flumdiddle and beyond the Sea of Glup. One can only imagine what tales they are concocting. We shall not see their like again, and that’s a shame.
To Mr. Brown and Mr. Copp, wherever you are, I can only say this: “I only wish the other kids were half so nice as you!”
One of the clearest memories I have of my childhood was being taken to I. Magnin’s department store in Pasadena, CA, to meet Jim Copp and Ed Brown. At the time, I was madly in love with the Glups, particularly Bossy Cow, so I brought along a battered copy of the record for them to sign. As I turn this treasure over in my hands today, I’m amazed that these two dear men actually found a corner to sign that wasn’t tattered and torn. I still have all nine records, each in various states of disrepair, the Glup game pieces disintegrated around about my junior high school days. I can not possibly imagine a happier hour spent in my childhood, escaping the LA smog, than listening to the Glups mysterious and fascinating journey to San Francisco and playing the game with all my imaginary friends.
As a college student, I taught nursery school. One day, on a school errand, I happened into a children’s book store in Los Altos, CA. Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered all nine albums in pristine, shrink-wrapped form, which I immediately purchased and taped for my family and friends. The early 80s was a Jim Copp / Ed Brown renaissance for me. I wrote a heartfelt letter to Jim, sent to him via Playhouse Records – I hope he got a chance to read it and all the other fan mail I know he received long after he stopped recording.
I learned the sad, sad news of Jim Copp’s death when my brother sent me a tape of the Fresh Air eulogy played on NPR April 30th this year. I was driving to work, barely able to keep the tears in check. Jim Copp and Ed Brown were such a significant part of my childhood, I really can’t imagine what I would have turned out like had they not been in my life. When I listen to what children are fed today, I mourn the loss of these original, witty men even more.
The happiest moment of my day was learning that others in the world know and love Jim and Ed. It seems like my life has been one long journey to find others who’ve even heard of Jim Copp Tales outside my immediate family. Fortunately, Playhouse Records still exists in Los Angeles, and the many fans of Jim Copp and Ed Brown finally have a place to communicate their love for these stories, tales, fables, and songs. I have made it my mission in life to give a many children as possible tapes and CDs of Jim and Ed’s recordings, in the hopes that more children can meet the likes of Messy Bess, Glue Glup, Mr. Hippety, Miss Goggins, and take the long, happy journey East of Flumdiddle.
I was sad to hear of Jim Copp’s passing on David Garland’s show on WNYC-FM, “Spinning On Air “. Copp’s records were staples in my family when I was little (early 60s) and my older brother & I can still recite “Miss Goggins and the Gorilla” (“we shall sing!”) Both of us have made compilation tapes from my records for our own kids. And I can dimly remember my parents taking me to FAO Schwarz to have Copp & Ed Brown autograph my copies of Schoolmates & Gumdrop Follies (“to our friend Billy”).
Jim Copp’s records were unique and wonderful. I’m glad you’re keeping them available for a new generation of listeners.
I was so sad to learn of Jim Copp’s death through his obit in the NY Times. I’m now 42 and the mother of three. I LOVED Jim Copp’s records as a child in NYC. My mother bought them for me. I saw a tiny ad in the New Yorker a few years ago and ordered the tapes for my own daughters, now 15 and 12. When I heard “Miss Goggins and the Gorilla” again for the first time in about 35 years I got scared again!!! When the gorilla rapped on the classroom door, I actually squealed (which scared my kids). I turned my husband on to Jim Copp, and also my kid’s friends, for whom we played the tapes.
I was surprised to learn he had no kids, since he was such a genius at reaching children. Thank you Jim for creating such wonderful images and memories; I will never forget you.
With love from
PS. I have a 2 year old who has not yet heard Jim Copp. Can’t wait……
Subj: Goodbye Jim
I first heard about Jim Copp in an Atlantic Monthly article. Intrigued, I ordered several tapes, and was introduced to the world of Copp and Brown just as my daughter was turning seven. When I called to order, I actually talked to THE Jim Copp on the phone! I was thrilled.
I’M A DUCK! and so am i!
Although their music was available when I was her age, I missed it somehow, so we heard it together for the first time. We have memorized most of the songs and share them as part of her childhood memories. At age 12, she now understands the magic and genius of Copp and Brown with their one microphone, reel-to-reel recorder, and assortment of sound effects. She also loves their darkish, non-saccharine humor.
Crocodile kittycat devilfish caribou chickadee antelope mynahbird albatross butterfly guinea pig something something woodpecker pelican duck!
Thank you so much for letting me know; I spoke with you on the telephone at Christmas, to order several things for my GRANDchildren. We had a good conversation about how much the recordings meant to my own three children during their growing up years of the 50′s & 60′s. I think they learned all the words by heart and recited them over and over with many giggles. Now I’m pleased to hear my grandchildren doing the same thing – surely a tribute to the timeless and universal quality of his and Ed Brown’s work. I’m truly glad to know the recordings will continue available and will pass on the updated address & phone number to our family.
My brother just informed me of the passing of Jim Copp. All my siblings and cousins grew up on the Glups and can still recite long passages from memory. A year or so ago we were wondering if the items were still available and my mom found you folks somehow. Anyway, now my kids are getting Glupped (and mispronouncing it as Glump just as we did). I hope that despite Jim’s passing, there is someone to carry on for the next generation.
I grew up with this album and it has stayed with me for the past 40 years. I would like to now order 4 copies, one for my self and the others for my siblings but want to make sure that all of the songs will be on the CD. can you let me know the songs listed on each CD so I can determine which to order? Also is there a “Jim Copp Tales” cd?
Thanks so much
Jim’s passing is the close of an era. My children grew up singing Ed and Jim’s tunes and playing them over and over again. I first met Ed and Jim when they did a signing party at I. Magnin in 1964. I bought the LPs for my children then. Two years ago when I discovered them on cassette, I bought them for my (now very grown) children and put them in their stockings. We listened to them all Christmas morning, singing along and howling with the joy of remembering those uncomplicated, early days. After 30 years, my children can still sing the songs word for word, and do a pretty good imitation of Bossy Cow, too. What joy and laughter those two men brought to us!
Sara S., Boulder, Colorado
My son and I heard the story of the three legged pot on KFJC years ago. We have searched for your website earnestly since then. Viola! Today we found you to our great glee… Alas, we do not see the story among the titles available, our memory of “I skip, I skip, I skip.” still sends us into paroxysms of laughter…. Please tell us how to get this story on tape or CD…Thank you, We can barely wait to get offine and order the CD’s that are available. Thank you for reproducing the LPs.
Claire and Paul T.
I just heard the sad new regarding Mr. Copp’s passing. I listened to his records for years, but lost track of them in all my moves. When I saw the ad in the New Yorker magazine that they were available, I leaped at it. My son and I have listened to them and he enjoys them as much as I ever did. How many car trips did My sister and I amuse (or was it annoy?) our parents with our renditions of songs like “Messy Bess” and “We’re goin’ to San Fransisky” I am sad at his passing, but so grateful that I had a chance to experience his genius………….I skip, I skip.
Dear Playhouse Records:
I am looking for Jim Copp Tales. I grew up with this record. I heard on NPR that he died recently. Do you have a CD or cassette of Jim Copp Tales? I loved every recording from this album. I would like for my son to grow up with these recordings. I worry that if I purchased the compilation CD that I would miss some of the recordings such as “Mr. Hippity (sp.) and the Balloon?” Can you make a CD or cassette of the entire Jim Copp Tales?
I wish I had been able to meet you and thank you for all the wonderful hours I spent listening and dancing to your records in the early sixties. My earliest musical memories are of the Beatles and Jim Copp Tales. I hope that in life you understood how much joy and laughter your inventive mind created in the world for children young and old. Wherever you are now I hope you are joyful and happy. You deserve it for all the joy and happiness you spread. Thanks for a wonderful life well spent.
As children growing up in New York City in a heavenly absence of television, my sister and I often sat on the floor next to our portable record player listening to “Gumdrop Follies,” “East of Flumdiddle,” and “Schoolmates.” On car trips we would recite in full the scenes of the Glup thanksgiving and the one of Miss Goggins forcing her students to sing “America.” To this day my father will occasionally rely on Copp/Brown lyrics, introducing a conversation with “Good morning children, what a lovely day, my my, you’re looking rather gloomy and I don’t know why!” And every Thanksgiving somebody unfailingly says, “Remember when we ate the pie? But we must go, my dear, Good Bye.” The day Jim Copp died, which happened to be my fortieth birthday, I left a message with my sister about the sad development and ended it with the famous Copp and Brown phrase “I skip, I skip!”
Growing up “attuned” to the brilliance and Jim Copp and Ed Brown had something to do, I’m sure, with our love for the performed word, and with the obsession to entertain: my sister is an actress, and I’m a novelist. We loved the impishness of Copp and Brown, their originality, the riot of their voices bringing us all those funny people throughout our childhood. I couldn’t thank them enough if they were still here.
I am devastated by the news of Jim’s death. The saddest part of it for me? I didn’t even realize he was still alive — somehow, with all the communications I’d received over the past few years from Playhouse records, and with all the information on the Web site, I had the sense that some folks had taken up with Jim and Ed’s old recordings but I didn’t know Jim was still alive at that time. If I’d known, I would have drawn him some funny pictures and sent him a letter telling him what a very real treasure he was to me as a child. When I discovered I could buy his recordings for my own little boy I cried — I thought Jim Copp was gone forever with our family’s copy of Jim Copp Tales that disappeared when we sold our house. Jim helped build my imagination. I could listen to his songs for hours at a time, picturing the cow and the kitty cat as they set up their house, imagining that my own dad and I were on a drive and observing things that began with each letter of the alphabet. When I hear his voice today it instantly calms me, makes me smile, and brings back my happiest childhood days in a flash.
Jim, you gave the world a gift, and through that gift you do most assuredly live forever.
I received the following card from Playhouse Records, P. O. Box 20547, Oakland CA 94620-0547. Phone: 800-613-6968. “Sad news for the fans of Jim Copp. Jim died on April 7, 1999. Jim was a genius in the making of children’s records and one of the greatest creators of entertainment for children to work in any medium. The world is poorer for the loss of a creative artist of extraordinary wit, imagination, humor, and integrity. The recordings he made with Ed Brown (who died in 1978) will live forever. Fans who wish to make comments about what Jim’s work means to them can do so by e-mailing them to Playhytone@aol.com or by sending them to the Playhouse P.O. box. These comments will be posted on the playhouse web site.”
Did we do to our little minds, lo these forty years ago, to play those stories over and over and over to ourselves? What other works of literature, music, art or architecture do we know as well as the stories of Miss Goggins and Mr. Hippity? The Bible? The Declaration of Independence? I suppose that there are a few creations in the world that are as familiar to me as the chuckle of Mr. Hippity. My consciousness is more shaped by them than that I see or hear them. Can any of us see the Eiffel Tower for the first time? A few simple lines can recreate the whole. The least change would jump out at me. Take the radio tower off of the Empire State Building, like it was in its first few years when it had a zeppelin dock on top, and it hardly looks like the same building. So familiar is the Empire State Building as we have known it in the past fifty years. The Taj Mahal is so known to me that I can not imagine it being different. I can hardly imagine a world without The Gettysburg Address. Or the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth or the melody of the Ode to Joy. There can’t be more than a dozen or two moments of creation or images that are elemental like this. The Acropolis. The Mona Lisa. Armstrong stepping on to the moon. Jackie in her pink pillbox hat. Mr. Hippity on the park bench with his first balloon.
I do not propose to be cosmic or even global in my speculations. I am sure that I could walk down Hennepin Avenue asking people to give me the next word in this verse: “I had a little doggie and his name was Mr. _”and not more than one in four or five could give me a correct answer. For myself, though, the stories on that scratchy old Jim Copp Tales record are as fresh in my mind as if I had listened to them this morning during breakfast. Phrases come back to me unbidden. During a Vikings game last year, one I was watching with LeRoy, an opposing defender blitzed Cunningham on a pass play. A lineman stayed at home and put the linebacker on the ground. Pleased with the performance and without a thought, I said out loud in a nasally voice: “I never allow linebackers in my back field. Whoever you are, go away.” LeRoy looked at me without comprehending. I shook my head, dismissing his query. The explanation would have been too long. I am a child of Jim Copp.
We moved into a new house in 1963 and found that the previous owners had left their copy of Jim Copp on a player in the hall. It was our introduction to Jim. As a consequence, our seven children have memorized those recordings and sometimes recite them – along with their children – in immediately recognizable style. When the tapes and recordings again became available we gave each of them a new tape of their own. Jim Copp is a treasured memory for all of us.
How sad to learn that Jim Copp has died. He just brought to children and adults alike such unique stories and music. I remember many of his tales and my children and I especially liked the one about Miss Goggins and also the one about the animals having a picnic in the middle of a California freeway, wondering why cars were speeding past them. He was a marvelous man and fortunately my 3 children, now adults, have the CD’s of the magical world he created for all of us. A posthumous thank you, Jim, for what you gave to so many.
Miss Goggins and the Gorilla
We first discovered Jim Copp Tales in a military Base Exchange near Tokyo when my three children were quite small. We loved the stories and music at once and soon recited many of the scenarios at the slightest provocation. The favorite of all was, of course, Miss Goggins and the Gorilla and we would gleefully repeat “Threeeeeeeeeeeee Hours After School”.
Needless to say we began to purchase all the records and brought them back to the USA with us when we returned in 1966. Now we had the great fun of introducing them to our new neighborhood friends in Ohio; The Glups were their favorites.
The grand finale to this story came many years later as I was teaching a night class here at Florida State University. I became aware of snickers from my graduate students as I was rambling on about information formats of one sort or another. I turned to see what was causing the students to giggle and saw………..a gorilla coming into the classroom!
I immediately reassured my students that they need not worry, it was only the principal in a gorilla suit! [actually students had rented the costume for a presentation and thought it would be a great joke to scare me; little did they know, I had been well prepared many years ago for just such an occasion!]
Dear Playhouse Records,
I am saddened to learn of Jim Copp’s death. Having grown up listening to his and Ed Brown’s work, I believe he is really part of who I am. I bought a complete set of the tapes and have been giving them to my young nieces at Christmas and on birthdays. They are now old enough to enjoy them, too.
I am glad to know that Playhouse Records will live on and that the recordings will continue to be available. Most excellent.
One of the most uplifting coincidences of my life happened while I was a college student at Oberlin. I was having breakfast in the dining hall on one particularly gloomy Ohio morning. Two girls whom I did not know were sitting at the same table. I overheard one of them saying to the other in an unmistakable tone, “Sure looks like rain.” I turned to her and said, “Oh pshaw, hit ain’t gonna rain!” Here, two perfect strangers found they had something in common. While I can’t go on to say that we were married six weeks later and have been ever since, it was an amusing encounter for both of us.
Nowadays, whenever I get together with my brothers and parents, something from Jim Copp comes up, whether it be me playing a familiar tune on the piano or singing it (my favorites are the ones from The Cow and the Kittycat and the one from the wicked brother’s party), or switching the lights on and off in rhythm, or just testing one another to see how much of a certain piece we remember by heart. It’s great art, and like all great art, it remains fresh and amusing each time one listens to it. I never get tired of it.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered that Playhouse Records still existed and that the recordings were still available. I was overjoyed when I found a phone listing in a record catalog. Imagine my surprise when I called and a gentleman answered, “Hello.” A few seconds later I realized I was speaking to Jim Copp himself. Over the coming months we exchanged notes and magazine clippings and carried on a pleasant correspondence. He couldn’t have been more gracious.
Jim Copp, you have touched many lives and you will be missed.
Ruskin K. C.
I forgot to mention in my earlier E-mail that when I got my first college teaching position (teaching piano at Davidson College), my parents presented me with a desk bell. An obvious reference to Miss Goggins. It sits on my desk, and whenever I feel like it, I ring it and think of Miss Goggins.
Ruskin K. .C.
Jim Copp’s are the only children’s stories/songs on the market that I can stomach. They have provided me and my grandchildren with many hours of pleasure. Jim Copp tales are part of a special bond between me and my first, Stephanie Merucci. I am sad that he is gone. He will be missed.
I had Miss Goggins and the Gorilla memorized and I could entertain my slackjawed friends forever, but they just thought I was out of my mind. I grew up to be Miss Goggin’s other persona, I’m a teacher now…When I get frustrated and vengeful I just replay in my mind, “You are stupid, unruly, disobedient and vi-tu-pri-tive.” I feel like I am Miss Goggins sometimes, but its just an antidote to the saccharin view that people have of teachers of young children. I really don’t act on it.
Jim Copp is very close to my heart, and always will be. He provided an outlet for my total disgust of the adult world, and at the same time showed compassion and honesty toward his target audience. thank you Ted Leyhe for keeping the torch burning.
PS When my husband wanted to surprise me and ordered cassettes from the ad in the New Yorker, he told me he just called Jim Copp. I was so jealous but way too shy to actually call him myself. I was touched but not surprised that the man ran the business himself, and even answered the phone.
I was sorry to hear about the death of Jim Copp. I loved listening to Jim Copp tales and the Glups go to San Francisco. My brothers and I would spend hours listening and imitating the records. One of our favorite characters was Miss Goggins. I have since become a teacher myself but I am not a Miss Goggins. I recently introduced my son to the tapes and he enjoys them too. Keep up the good work so we can continue to enjoy these records for years to come.
I was sorry to read about the death if Jim Copp. I have enjoyed many of his recordings as a child. My favorite character was Miss Goggins. My brothers and I would mouth the words to the records and laugh. I was so happy to discover that I could order all of my favorite recordings. I introduced my son the these records and he loves them too
Hi. Thanks for the package of truly wonderful material. I will let you know when I play it on CBC on Basic Black. But for now, I am playing it on my local radio show here in Victoria and it is already generating some interest. I hope my listeners that called order the CD’s. I love Little Claude and can’t wait to play more, I am a fan.
I won’t forget the day when I spotted the small ad with that drawing of the strange little armless fellow in the New Yorker Magazine…My heart soared as I recognized the “Jim Copp guy”! The stories of Jim Copp and Ed Brown were a deeply important to me during my childhood, and now I knew that my own children could come to know them also. They, too, have enjoyed the bizarrely charming world of these two artists tremendously. And now Jim Copp has passed on, perhaps to join Ed Brown, his partner in genius, in a wonderful heaven somewhere. Thank you Jim and Ed for Teeny Tiny, Mr. Hippity, Mrs Goggins, the Pot who Skipped, Dick Milligan and all the rest.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
I am sad to learn of Mr. Copp’s death. It’s been comforting since I first encountered his wonderful wit and imagination through his recordings to know he was still making these available to an appreciative public. I first encountered his children’s recordings in a feature on National Public Radio. I was enchanted by them and thought about that feature for several days. I finally called NPR and asked for a phone number to find out more about these wonderful stories and songs. When I called I was delighted when Mr. Copp himself answered the phone. He was so warm and friendly and genuinely happy that younger generations were hearing about and responding to his work. I ordered a complete set of recordings. I thank you Mr. Copp for your special gift to my son’s and to children everywhere.
Oak Ridge, TN
I was so sad to hear about Jim Copp’s death. I first heard the LP “Jim Copp Tales” at the home of a music instructor in college about fifteen years ago. We were having a sort of wake to commiserate with another instructor who had learned that he wouldn’t be getting tenure, and the atmosphere was pretty grim. Then our host put Jim Copp on the stereo and things perked up considerably. By the time the record was over, we were actually rolling on the floor laughing. Our hosts, who had grown up with Jim Copp’s recordings, finished the evening with an impromptu piano performance (four hands, if I remember correctly) of the theme music.
Ever since then, I’ve been a true fan and have been delighted occasionally to come across others who know and adore Jim Copp’s work. As long as his recordings survive, he will continue to live — and crack people up.
I heard the tribute on NPR. Before then I had sadly never heard of Jim Copp. But I was instantly won over. I intend to mail copies of his work to my brothers who have children.
Thank you very much
Benjamin S., AIA
I was given Fidgety Frolic for my sixth birthday (31 years ago). That Christmas I received Schoolmates and later A Journey to San Francisco With the Glups. Forever after in my family, certain expressions from those albums are standard responses: “Aaah’m tired”, “Gauche!”, “What’s that comin’ toward us?” and many others. In college, hanging around with some new friends for some reason I quoted a line from Schoolmates “Oh yeah? ya wanna fight or something?” And one girl stared incredulously – “You know those records?” We were immediately fast and hilarious friends. Another year in college I heard someone say “Gimme that chicken”, and made another friend. Now my own children love these recordings, and I can say “I don’t know WHAT is the matter with you CHILDREN this morning.” and “Please sit down at the table, and REMEMBER your MANNERS.” And the vocabulary I learned! “Please calm yourself. You’re acting like a megalomaniac!” “An inauspicious sight was he in shorts and raveled sweater…” “I’m the socially prominent Mrs. Blodgett!” “Oh HO! You underestimate me!” I have absolutely loved these records since day one. They have enriched my life and honed my sense of humor. Thank You, Thank You Jim Copp.
JIM COPP: OFF ON A LENGTHY TRIP
Ed: “Oh, Mr. Copp, are we in Flumdiddle yet?”
Jim: “Why, no. We’re in a forest, East of Flumdiddle.”
Jim Copp was a towering genius in the field of children’s records, and one of the greatest creators of entertainment for children ever to work in any medium. He is also inspirational to small press creators, as he released and distributed all his records himself. One fan, Henry Kaiser, wrote of Jim Copp:
When I listen to these recordings from my adult professional perspective, I realize that beyond their sentimental value and the hours of great entertainment I drew from them as a child, this is the work of an American original operating in a highly personal creative universe, comparable to such unique and diverse voices as Preston Sturges, Ken Nordine, Sun Ra, Max Fleischer, Dr. Seuss, Orson Welles, Raymond Scott, Matt Groening, or Daniel Pinkwater. Jim Copp has a sense of vocal and dramatic timing that equals Jack Benny or the Marx Brothers at their best. His lyrics and texts often equal in quality the finest children’s, nonsense, and cartoon writers: Lewis Carroll, Ogden Nash, Tex Avery… Copp’s success required mastering many modes of creative expression: musician, composer, actor, writer, recording engineer, tape editor and businessman. His skills as a self-taught recording engineer achieved miraculous results with minimal equipment. As a multi – instrumentalist, he created intense and expressive music that crossed idiomatic and stylistic barriers. The more closely I listen to these recordings, the more amazed I become.
Jim Copp, the son of a prominent Los Angeles attorney, studied political science at Stanford and creative writing in graduate school at Harvard. John Hammond, the legendary Columbia Records talent scout, discovered Jim performing as a pianist/comedian and booked him into Manhattan nightclubs., “Jim Copp and his Things” shared bills with such performers as Lena Horne, Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, and Billie Holiday. During WWII he commanded an intelligence unit in Germany. Returning to Los Angeles, he released a 78 r.p.m. recording of “Agnes Mouthwash,” the strangest (and possibly the funniest) recording of the 1940s, for which the world was not prepared. After submitting a demo to Capitol Records, he received an enthusiastic phone call from president Alan Livingston. A delighted Copp went to meet with Livingston, who said, “We love your stories, but we don’t want you to do them. We don’t like your voice. We want Jerry Lewis to do them.” Jim let Capitol have one story, “The Noisy Eater,” which was recorded and released by Lewis; Copp’s royalty came to a half cent a side. After this experience, Copp decided to handle every aspect of recording himself. Although he never received wide commercial success and suffered from spotty distribution, Jim would enjoy absolute creative autonomy and the devotion of his fans for the next forty years.
Copp, in the process of writing his society column, “Skylarking with Jim Copp,” which appeared in the Los Angeles Times, met retired steel executive and linguist Ed Brown at a party, and the meeting would change history. They went into business together. In 1958 Jim recorded a children’s LP, “Jim Copp Tales,” and Ed designed and marketed it. From then on, the records became an annual ritual. Jim would start writing in January on a Hawaiian beach, then return to Los Angeles to record in his parents’ house. Copp and Brown would record all the dialogue and songs, then Copp would laboriously add sound effects and music. Working with three Ampex tape machines, Copp created a one-man orchestra featuring piano, kazoo, autoharp, pump-organ, celeste, bongo drums, ratchet, tin whistle, &c, while Brown designed the album cover. Each October, the pair would release their new record and embark on a promotional tour. Copp and Brown, would then pack their grips and set sail for Hawaii again, to start planning their next LP.
When Jim’s father died, his sister wanted to sell the family home, so Jim moved into Ed’s house, where he retired from recording. Jim said recently, “Ed’s house was all carpeted, so the sound wasn’t live enough. And my tape recorders were all worn out, and I sold the microphone. I didn’t want to make any more records at that point, but Ed did, and he probably would have talked me into it if he had lived a little longer. He died on February 15, 1978. He had a pancreas thing.”
In the 1990s, Jim, although plagued by failing health, was able to enjoy the rerelease of several of his recordings on CD, engineered by a young fan, Ted Leyhe. I was fortunate to have the chance to talk to Jim on the phone many times, and always found him charming and gracious.
Jim recently explained how he chose the medium of children’s records. “I really did these things just because I liked them. I didn’t really do them for children. However, I thought that maybe that was the best way to sell them. I thought that if I did [songs] for children, they wouldn’t be at the whim of people who go for the latest tune. I thought potentially they might go on and on.”
James Copp III has finally gone to join Ed Brown, somewhere in Flumdiddle. Or East of Flumdiddle. The world is poorer for the loss of a creative artist of extraordinary wit, imagination, humor, and integrity, but his recordings should live forever.
For anyone wishing to become acquainted with Mr. Copp, I recommend his two compilation CDs, “Agnes Mouthwash and Friends” and “Flibbertigibbets On Parade,” or the cassette tape, “Thimble Corner.” For very young children, I recommend “Jim Copp Tales,” the first tape James learned to enjoy. You can visit the Playhouse Records Web Site at www.playhouserecords.com, or call Ted Leyhe at 1-800-613-6968, or write Playhouse Records, P.O. Box 20547, Oakland CA 94620-0547.
My wife and I were so sorry to learn from the NYT that Jim Copp had died. We, and of course our three children, just loved his records when the kids were growing up in the 60′s and 70′s. Then we lost touch and feared the grandchildren would have a deprived, Jim Coppless childhood. We are delighted to learn that even though the creator has passed on his legacy remains. We are ordering the whole cassette collection today. God bless Jim Copp.
Bill and Louisa N.
I read today that Jim Copp had died. Fortunately the obit in the NY times carried the tidbit that the recordings are available. I am the only one I know who listened to those quirky recordings – I remember playing them over and over till I memorized the scratches in the records too. I can still hear pieces of the House on Thimble Corner. So I am delighted to find not only that I can share them with my son and niece (maybe she is also just a bit odd) and refresh my memory of them. We must have got them at I. Magnin’s, but I don’t know who would have bought them for me. All I can say is that I am glad to be able to bring them to the children in my life.
I would like to know what Copp productions are available on CD, and how I may order them. I bought “Jim Copp Tales” and “Thimble Corner” on LP in 1972: they are genuine masterpieces.
How sad I was to hear on NPR that Jim Copp had passed away. In his honor, this sophisticated-small-fry-adult played Flibbertigibbets on Parade all weekend. Hail Mr. Frogman! Your wonderful silly sense of humor lives on!!
Jenny Fu H.
What an inspiration it was for me to hear the music and lyrics of Jim Copps and Ed Brown, for the very first time; April 30, 1999. I have grandchildren and I will immediately order all Cd’s or tapes for them, but wondered why I had never heard of this man before, when my children were young. At least it’s not too late.
My childhood rich as it was, is poorer for not having heard these recordings. My son will know no such privation.
To whomever is now minding the store: I just want to say how very, very sad I was to read of Jim Copp’s passing. He lives on in my house, where my daughter, who is almost four, listens to Gumdrop Follies, Thimble Corner, and East of Flumdiddle over and over and over again. She adores those recordings as much as I did at her age–indeed, as much as I still do. I own all the cassettes–but is there additional material on the two “Best Of” CD’s? If there is, I’d like to buy them. Please let me know.
To whom it may concern,
Today Fri. April 30th, 1999 as I was working out in my home I heard on Fresh Air that Jim Cop died. Now I’ve never heard of this man’s work prior to today. However the tribute that was presented, moved me to tears. I plan to pass on the Cop/Brown mad cap audio onward. First to myself and then to the next generation of family members. Thank you for preserving their legacy in humor.
Even though it came at his passing, I’m so pleased to have found out about Jim’s brilliant work, thanks to National Public Radio’s program “Fresh Air” (April 30, 1999). I grew up listening to Stan Freberg, Spike Jones, Shel Silverstein, Flanders & Swan, and so on. I intend to fully educate myself about Jim, and pass it on to my children, as I did the work of the others. The world is a better place for all the laughter.
I was first exposed to Jim’s work today on NPR — I’m an instant fan. Sorry to hear about his death, happy to learn of his work. My condolences.