Traumafessions :: Reader FatherOfTears on U.N.C.F.’s “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste”

OK, WAY back in the early ‘70s I was a little kid who, of course, grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons and “Wonderama” on Sunday morning (I’m in my early 40’s and I live in the NY, NJ, Conn Tri-State area). After school on weekdays it was, after homework of course, BUGS BUNNY, THE LITTLE RASCALS, FELIX THE CAT, and various PBS kids programs. I was allowed to watch some prime time T.V. ‘till it was bed time (around 8 PM). Here in the late afternoon/early evening I caught various programs.

My favorite prime time show was EMERGENCY (see, I’m an old geezer!) and also at the time, I got to see syndicated re-runs of THE AVENGERS. Good times! However, also at that time in the early ‘70s there were various public service advertisements that aired. Some were the classic “Cross at the green, not in between,” an anti-smoking add that had a dolphin jump out of a tank to pluck a lit cigarette out of a man’s mouth, the famous crying Indian in an anti-pollution ad, plus there was another one that was about, if I remember correctly, racism that showed a chain that was unwound and stretched till it began to crack.

Very effective.

There was another one that was out that freaked me out and it came out in 1972. It was a P.S.A. for the U.N.C.F.. There were several out and they always ended with the tag line “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Well, this one featured a man, who may, or may not be either BILLY D. WILLIAMS or CARL WEATHERS (he does resemble them), sitting in a chair in an empty room staring out into space. We hear the sounds of a city in the background, a baby crying, a radio being tuned and a clock’s chimes going off. After that we just hear the sound of water dripping out of the tap. A narrator then comes on and he gives a speech about the importance of education and how one can do world changing things like fighting injustice, becoming an artist, making peace and curing diseases. He then goes on to say that this cannot be possible if one does not get an education.

This is good BUT something is happening as the man talks: The guy in the chair is LOOSING HIS HEAD!!!! It’s slowly vanishing!


Now this is doing a good job of proving that point especially as it ends with the classic “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” but as a then 5-year old, I found this VERY UNNERVING!!!! The guy’s head disappears!!! That quiet part with him staring and looking worried with the water drip helped set that mood and then his head slowly vanished! VERY disturbing indeed! That image would stay in my mind for many years! That image would be replaced in the summer of 1977 by even something worse but that has been covered already!

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