Flintstone days

In the local real estate news (from NBC Bay Area yesterday), “‘Flintstones’ House in Hillsborough Listed for $4.2M” by Tamara Palmer and Ian Cull:

Hillsborough’s most recognizable piece of real estate has hit the market.

The home at 45 Berryessa Way, though relatively small by the town’s standards at 2,730 square feet, is seeking a big price tag of $4.2 million


A story that will take us through several twists and turns of pop culture.

From Wikipedia:

The Flintstone House is a free-form, single-family residence in Hillsborough, California [not far south of San Francisco] overlooking, and best seen from the Eugene A. Doran Memorial Bridge on Interstate 280. It was designed by architect William Nicholson and built in 1976 as an experiment in new building materials, in the form of a series of domes. It was constructed by spraying shotcrete onto steel rebar and wire mesh frames over inflated balloons. Originally off-white in color, it was repainted a deep orange in the early 2000s. The house contains three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Known popularly as “The Flintstone House”, it derives its name from The Flintstones, a Hanna-Barbera Productions animated cartoon series of the early 1960s about a Stone Age family.

The home is also known as “The Barbapapa House,” deriving its name from “Barbapapa”, a character and series of books created by “Annette Tison” and “Talus Taylor” in the 1970s.

Now to the Flintstones and Barbapapa, with a digression on Dick Clark, and then on to Shmoos.


The original Flintstone House

From Wikipedia:

The Flintstones is an animated, prime-time American television sitcom that was broadcast from September 30, 1960 to April 1, 1966, on ABC. The show, produced by Hanna-Barbera, fancifully depicted the lives of a working-class Stone Age man, his family, and his next-door neighbor and best friend.

The show’s continuing popularity rested heavily on its juxtaposition of modern everyday concerns in the Stone Age setting.

The show is set in the Stone Age town of Bedrock. In this fantasy version of the past, dinosaurs and other long-extinct animals co-exist with cavemen, saber-toothed cats, and woolly mammoths. Like their mid-twentieth century counterparts, these cavemen listen to records, live in split-level homes, and eat out at restaurants, yet their technology is made entirely from pre-industrial materials and largely powered through the use of animals. For example, the cars are made out of stone, wood and animal skins, and powered by the passengers’ feet.

– Fred Flintstone is the main character of the series. Fred is an accident-prone bronto-crane operator at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company and the head of the Flintstone clan.

– Wilma Flintstone is Fred’s wife. She is more intelligent and level-headed than her husband, though she often has a habit of spending money

– Pebbles Flintstone is the Flintstones’ infant daughter, who is born near the end of the third season.

– Dino, a prosauropod dinosaur, is the Flintstones’ pet who barks and generally acts like a dog.

– Barney Rubble is the secondary main character and Fred’s best friend and next door neighbor.

– Betty Rubble is Barney’s wife and Wilma’s best friend.

– Bamm-Bamm Rubble is the Rubbles’ abnormally strong adopted son, whom they adopt during the fourth season

– Hoppy is the Rubbles’ pet Hopparoo (a kangaroo/dinosaur combination creature), whom they adopt in the beginning of the fifth season.

The main cast (Hoppy, Wilma, Pebbles, Fred, Bamm-Bamm, Barney, Dino, Betty:


(All very symmetrical: two married couples, each with one child and one extraordinary pet. The men are best friends and the women are best friends. The kids are of opposite sexes, the pets are of different species. Everybody’s hair is color-coded and contrasted: the spouses have different hair colors, the best friends have different hair colors, and the kids have different hair colors. Fred and Wilma are strongly contrasted in temperament, as are Fred and Barney.)

The opening for the show:

(I haven’t posted systematically on the show before now, though I have posted on The Jetsons, which premiered in 1962 as Hanna-Barbera’s Space Age counterpart to The Flintstones.)

[The Dick Clark digression. The Hillsborough house (from 1976) was the first, but radio and tv personality Dick Clark came along in 1988 to have another, much more stylish, Flintstone House built for him on top of a hill in Malibu (in southern California):


Clark put this house on the market in March 2012 (a month before he died), with an asking price of $3.5 million (stories in many places at the time, for instance in the Daily Mail, here); it has huge glass windows in every room, giving amazing views of the nearby Pacific Ocean, Channel Islands, Boney Mountains and Serrano Valley. After it was on the market for nearly three years, Clark’s widow finally sold the house in 2014, for $1.778 million (again stories in many places at the time, for instance in Curbed LA, here, with lots of photos).]

Barbapapa.From Wikipedia:

Barbapapa is both the title character, and name of the “species” of said character, of a series of children’s books written in the 1970s by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor, who resided in Paris, France. The books were originally written in French (barbe à papa – literally “Daddy’s beard” – is French for cotton candy or candy floss), and were later translated into over 30 languages.

… The main characters in the books are the Barbapapa family, who are most notable for their ability to shapeshift at will. In their native form, Barbapapas are blob-shaped, with a distinct head and arms, but no legs. Male Barbapapas have rounder bottoms, whereas female Barbapapas have a more slender form. Each Barbapapa can adopt any form they choose, but they remain easily identifiable by always retaining their faces and their distinctive colour.

Barbapapa himself is a generally papaya-shaped, pink shapeshifting blob-like creature who stumbles upon the human world and tries to fit in.

… After various adventures, Barbapapa comes across a female of his species (more shapely, and black-coloured), named Barbamama. They produce four sons: Barbidur, a sports fan (red), Barbibul, a scientist (blue), Barbidou, a nature enthusiast (yellow) and Barbouille, a painter (black and furry), as well as three daughters: Barbalala, a musician (green), Barbabelle, a beauty queen (purple) and Barbotine, an intellectual (orange).

The family:


And the original Barbapapa House, in cross-section, from Barbapapa’s New House (1978):


In the book, Papa becomes the mold for the Barbaplastic the Barbapapas use to create a new house for the family. The delights of shapeshifting.

Shmoo. Americans coming across Barbapapa (and the Barbapapas) are likely to think of him as cousin to Shmoo (and the shmoos) — a creation of cartoonist Al Capp (previous posting on Capp here) in a vein of utopian satire.


From Wikipedia:

The shmoo (plural: shmoon, also shmoos) is a fictional cartoon creature created by Al Capp (1909–79); it first appeared in his classic comic strip Li’l Abner on August 31, 1948.

A shmoo is shaped like a plump bowling pin with stubby legs. It has smooth skin, eyebrows and sparse whiskers — but no arms, nose or ears. Its feet are short and round but dextrous, as the shmoo’s comic book adventures make clear. It has a rich gamut of facial expressions and often expresses love by exuding hearts over its head. Cartoonist Al Capp ascribed to the shmoo the following curious characteristics. His satirical intent should be evident:

  • They reproduce asexually and are incredibly prolific, multiplying exponentially faster than rabbits. They require no sustenance other than air.
  • Shmoos are delicious to eat, and are eager to be eaten. If a human looks at one hungrily, it will happily immolate itself — either by jumping into a frying pan, after which they taste like chicken, or into a broiling pan, after which they taste like steak. When roasted they taste like pork, and when baked they taste like catfish. (Raw, they taste like oysters on the half-shell.)
  • They also produce eggs (neatly packaged), milk (bottled, grade-A), and butter—no churning required. Their pelts make perfect bootleather or house timber, depending on how thick you slice it.
  • They have no bones, so there’s absolutely no waste. Their eyes make the best suspender buttons, and their whiskers make perfect toothpicks. In short, they are simply the perfect ideal of a subsistence agricultural herd animal.
  • Naturally gentle, they require minimal care, and are ideal playmates for young children. The frolicking of shmoon is so entertaining (such as their staged “shmoosical comedies”) that people no longer feel the need to watch television or go to the movies.
  • Some of the more tasty varieties of shmoo are more difficult to catch. Usually shmoo hunters, [shmoo hunting is] now a sport in some parts of the country, utilize a paper bag, flashlight and stick to capture their shmoos. At night the light stuns them, then they can be whacked in the head with the stick and put in the bag for frying up later on.

Two extraordinary houses (NoCal and SoCal), a link to Dick Clark, an animated cartoon on tv, a series of illustrated children’s books, and a fabulous creature from the comic strips.

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