Channel the entity "Jeff Parker" from beyond the Ether

Friday, January 23, 2004

Captain, My Captain 

A few hours ago I heard on NPR that Bob Keeshan had died. Instantly I was in my childhood, sitting too close to the TV screen as Captain Kangaroo read me a story. Usually Mike Mulligan, sometimes it would be Curious George, which really made me perk up. He was the Walter Cronkite for my age group, and there was no one I trusted more.
I watched way too much television as a kid, but I wouldn't take back any viewings of the Captain's show. Kids today are hammered over the head with screaming characters on shows that are barely distinguishable from commercials. The Captain spoke to me in quiet, reasoned tones as if I were an equal. I would even empathize with him when Mr. Moose went into one of his knock-knock jokes, thinking "Aw c'mon, Moose, give him a break with those ping-pong balls", though I was always fascinated by the sheer number of balls that would fall on his head.

Like many children I thought of farms as magical places, and Mr. Greenjeans would show me all kinds of neat aspects of them. Especially animals. And he'd explain how things worked -- he was okay in my book too.
Everything else on the show, puppet or costume, was handled by Gus Alegretti, who must have been a creative workhorse. Besides Grandfather Clock, he was the character that made for the most surreal interludes, Dancing Bear. As I remember it, the Captain might be talking to Mr. Moose and Bunny when music would start up, and Dancing Bear would come out unannounced and do a little number, sometimes with instruments. The bear would finish and leave, and everything returned to normal.
Most things pushed were all creative in nature, like Etch-A-Sketch and Play-Dough (with Tom Terrific on the cardboard can). Schwinn Bicycles was a big sponsor, too. Ads that parents could actually feel good about. I liked that there weren't many kids on the show ever, so it felt like it was directed at me.
Bob Keeshan had a soothing voice that always gave good advice and never sounded pedantic. He truly respected children, and we could tell.
That sea of stability and calm Captain Kangaroo created started my day for years, the most formative ones of my life. Thanks for being an important part of my mornings, Captain.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com
Site Meter