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Editor's note • In this regular series, The Salt Lake Tribune explores the once-favorite people and places of Utahns, from restaurants to recreation to retail.

"Romper bomper stomper boo / Tell me, tell me, tell me do / Magic Mirror, please tell me today / Did all my friends have fun at play?"

For thousands of children who grew up in the 1960s and '70s, those words are magic.

And for kids in Utah, those words came from Miss Julie on "Romper Room," a nationally franchised TV show filmed locally at KSL-TV.

The Utah show was made from 1953 to 1981, with Edna Anderson-Taylor — aka Miss Julie — as "Romper Room's" teacher for more than 17 years.

Decades later, Utahns still remember what came after the rhyme — the chance that Miss Julie would "see" you in the Magic Mirror.

"I see Bonnie and David and Robin and Edward, and there's Mark and Rachel. And I see Caroline," she would say, looking into the camera.

"It was so special when your name was called on TV," said Michael Gray, an actor who grew up in Salt Lake City.

"I remember thinking, 'Please, please, please say my name,' " said Anne Ibach, who grew up in Ogden. "It was like magic. It would've been me she was talking to."

Becoming Miss Julie • Dozens of TV stations across the country taped their own versions of "Romper Room," each with its own host. Utah's first "Romper Room" host was Miss Nancy, played by Jackie Nokes, followed by Miss Barbara, Barbara Weggeland.

But for most of the show's run, it was Anderson-Taylor who appeared inside children's homes, not just in Utah, but also in Wyoming, Arizona, Idaho, even Alaska.

When Anderson-Taylor called to put her name on the audition list, the receptionist told her, "There are so many women here, dear, I wouldn't bother to come."

She went anyway. Of 175 women, she was third from last, but made it through several rounds of interviews.

With five women remaining, the national "Romper Room" team asked to meet the candidates' husbands. Their justification?

"You don't know how famous your wife is going to become," they told John "Jack" Anderson, Anderson-Taylor's husband. "All across the country, we don't have problems with the 'Romper Room' teachers. We have problems with the husbands. They can't [handle] being Mr. Miss-Somebody."

On hearing that, Jack "threw back his head and just guffawed," said Anderson-Taylor. "'If the time comes I can't compete with a bunch of 4-year-olds, I better toss in my towel,' he said."

There were indeed several occasions, she confirms, when her husband was called "Mr. Julie."

Live from Salt Lake City • Each show began with the Pledge of Allegiance. Popular songs and segments included "Punching Ball" ("Punch, punch, punch the ball / Punching's so much fun"), not to be confused with "Bounce Ball" ("Bouncing, I'm bouncing, see me bounce the ball / It's not hard at all!"). There was "Bend and Stretch" ("Bend and stretch, reach for the sky / Stand on tippy-toe, oh so high"), "Posture Basket" ("See me walk so straight and tall / I won't let my basket fall / Eyes ahead and don't look down / Keep the basket off the ground") and of course, "Do Bee" ("I always do what's right / I never do anything wrong / I'm a 'Romper Room' Do Bee / A Do Bee all day long").

Anderson-Taylor often read stories and played word games with the children, and before refreshments, the children prayed: "God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food."

The classroom of six was refreshed each week with three new children, who stayed for two weeks at a time. By the time Anderson-Taylor left "Romper Room," the waiting list was three years long.

Polly Smith grew up in West Valley and was on the show as a 4-year-old in 1965. She remembers singing "Posture Basket" on the show, and still sings "Romper Room" songs to her children and grandchildren. She even credits the memories of being on the show to her decision to become a preschool teacher.

"I used some of her techniques in my teaching," Smith said.

Broadcasting live TV with six preschool-age kids was "like sitting on top of a keg of dynamite with a lit match in your hand," Anderson-Taylor said.

During one segment, a giant tortoise was brought on. When the show went live, "it just sat there and didn't do anything," Anderson-Taylor recalled. "We didn't know which end was which."

She knocked on its shell and said, "Mr. Tortoise, do something!" And it did.

"It let fly with waste," she said. "The kids were gasping at me, 'Miss Julie!'"

Another time, after being injured in a skiing accident, Anderson-Taylor donned a wig on the show. She noticed one young student staring at her.

"I could just hear the cranks in her brain going. Finally, she said, 'Do you gots a wig on?' If I denied it, she would've pulled, so I said 'Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.'"

'"Romper Room" was mine.' • One morning in 1973, Anderson-Taylor was driving to the station when a radio announcer said a prominent businessman had gone down in a private plane. She had just kissed Jack goodbye a few hours earlier, before he boarded a flight to Idaho.

"It was all over the airwaves because of our notoriety," she said.

Jack's death, at age 38, is still a "hole in my life that never goes away. Everything in my life was permeated with Jack," Anderson-Taylor said. "But 'Romper Room' was mine. I could go there and forget. It was a life-saving thing for me."

In 1981, Anderson-Taylor was a single mom putting two kids through school and needing more income than "Romper Room" paid.

She moved across the KSL-TV office and became an advertising agent. That same year, she met her current husband, Jerry Taylor.

Anderson-Taylor went on to become a community advocate and philanthropist. She has served on the board of the Assistance League of Salt Lake City and is a contributor to Head Start.

"Romper Room" ended its 41-year run nationwide in 1994. Decades after her appearances on Utah's show ended, Anderson-Taylor is still greeted by people who recognize her and cry, "You never saw me in the Magic Mirror!"

She was at a convenience store in St. George recently when a stranger told her she looked just like Miss Julie. After learning Anderson-Taylor was the beloved teacher, the woman "wrapped her arms around my neck, put her head on my shoulder and sobbed,"

The woman told her that she had a terrible background, and that when she was growing up, "all I heard was all the things I couldn't do. And every day you told me that I could, and that I mattered. Every day you told me that I counted and that if I would work at it, I would be somebody."

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