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Writer Finds Slice of Childhood on Web
My brother P.D. and I have our rivalries. For example, there’s the great model tractor collection competition war which began decades ago and continues to this day, My collection is exclusively Oliver tractors, and his includes models of several makes, which means I am the clear winner, and my brother an obvious cheater.
But for all our rivalry (and the attendant revelry) there’s only one thing about my brother that I really, truly envy: He met Captain Kangaroo.
P.D. was working in Detroit and Captain Kangaroo – or Bob Keeshan, when he wasn’t wearing the jacket with the big pockets – was in Battle Creek, Michigan for a promotion at Kellogg’s now-defunct Cereal City attraction. Brother dear went there as a cameraman for one of the morning network news shows. My brother and the Captain struck up a conversation, which he later recounted to me in word-for-word detail. And that was the day I learned that excitement, pride and jealousy can hit with equal force at the exact same time.
This all came back to me when I got lost on the World Wide Web the other night. I was looking for something else and the search led me here and there -- clean sites, thank you very much, and shame on you for thinking I’d visit any other kind – when I found myself at www.tvparty.com, a wonderful site dedicated to the history and (more important) celebration of classic television shows.
There I found an entire page about the Captain – with video. I saw the Captain opening the door of the Treasure House. I saw him dusting that big table where he hung his big ring of keys and visited with Mister Moose and Bunny Rabbit. I saw Mr. Greenjeans and just a glimpse of Dancing Bear.
I was transported back to kidhood. Although I admit it’s a short trip for an overgrown kid like me. I couldn’t have been happier if I’d been sitting in front of our old Zenith black and white set again, in my cowboy pajamas with a big bowl of Sugar Frosted Particle Board Chips in my lap.
My online journey then took me to YouTube, which showed me even more video of Captain and his friends. And then I wound up at www.tvdays.com, Ira Gallen’s wonderful site (and store) full of old clips and shows and commercials enough to keep a Baby Boomer blissfully browsing for days. Which I did.
I came away with two thoughts: One, this is a wonderful gift, to go online and find a chunk of my kidhood waiting for me. This wouldn’t have been possible twenty years ago. And for that I am deeply grateful.
And two, I’m struck by how slow the Captain Kangaroo show seems compared to the shows, kiddie and adult, of today. The pace is relaxed, the dialog uncluttered and moderate. Today, even the most well-intended kiddie shows (and yes, I’ve seen them) move at a much faster clip. Something tells me Captain was doing it right, and we’d all be a lot better off if everyone, on TV and otherwise, would just get off the gas once in a while.
In that spirit, I will leave you now with the captain’s sign-off: “Be kind to one another, share what you can, and do remember your prayers.” Nice.
© 2007 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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