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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Childhood Entertainment

Mr. Green Jeans & Captain Kangaroo

  • Captain Kangaroo is an American children’s television series which aired weekday mornings on the CBS network for nearly 30 years, from October 3, 1955 until December 8, 1984, making it the longest-running nationally broadcast children's television program of its day.  In 1986, the American Program Service (now American Public Television, Boston) integrated some newly produced segments into reruns of past episodes, distributing the newer version of the series until 1993. The show was conceived and the title character played by Bob Keeshan, who based the show on "the warm relationship between grandparents and children." Keeshan had portrayed the original Clarabell the Clown on The Howdy Doody Show when it aired on NBC.  Captain Kangaroo had a loose structure, built around life in the "Treasure House" where the Captain (the name "kangaroo" came from the big pockets in his coat) would tell stories, meet guests, and indulge in silly stunts with regular characters, both humans and puppets.- Wikipedia
  • Howdy Doody the character first came to life from the creative mind of Bob Smith, who created Howdy Doody during his days as a radio announcer on WNBC (AM). At that time, Howdy Doody was only a voice Smith performed on the radio. When Smith made an appearance on NBC's television program Puppet Playhouse on December 27, 1947, the reception for the character was great enough to begin a demand for a visual character for television. Frank Paris, a puppeteer whose puppets appeared on the program, was asked to create a Howdy Doody puppet.

My early years were enhanced by a magical gadget called imagination (imagine that).  Children of my generation were raised without the benefit of iPods, iPads, iPhones, or computers, matter of fact for the longest time not even color television.  Who remembers the multicolor see through cellophane paper that was marketed for taping over the television screen to give the appearance of color images?  Our television entertainment consisted of very basic level production.  At the time for us, that was “the thing.”  There was nothing for us to compare it to.  We were in the pioneer age of television.

If we were lucky we would get the reception from the three basic networks.  Typical of Murphy’s Law, your favorite programs were on the station with the weakest reception (thus the most snow).  My favorite two shows were Howdy Doody, and Captain Kangaroo, except for the nostalgic value, they didn’t come near the production quality that today’s children are exposed to.  Back then, however, the option was for someone to read you a story out of a book, or from memory.  I still remember that bed time was fairly early because the test pattern on the television set would come on at various early hours as time progressed.

I still remember the arrival of Flash Gordon to television:

  • Space hero Flash Gordon and his crew of the Galaxy Bureau of Investigation patrol space, battling space monsters, power-mad alien dictators and other threats to the stability of the universe.

I recall how we all talked at school about the programs we watched on television.  Only a small percentage of households had television sets, and I was fortunate we had one of the first Philco television sets to come out for model year 1957.  I used to invite some of my favorite friends from school to come over and watch television at my house (didn’t hurt the popularity).

Think about your favorite programs and enjoy a trip through Memory Lane.  The best is yet to come….

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