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Another icon of my youth kicks the bucket

You younguns had your Ernie and Bert and the guy with the sweater to educate you in all the ways your parents couldn't because they were busy throwing cocktail parties and buying day-glo furniture.

I didn't have all those colored puppets and magic choo-choos and whatnot. I had the black and white stylings of Captain Kangaroo.

And now, let us bow our heads in a moment of reverence for the newly deceased Bob "Captain Kangaroo" Keeshan.

The Cap was a simple kind of guy. He spoke in soft tones, in a voice that made you believe he was talking only to you and you were his very favorite child in the whole world. Platonically speaking, of course. He wore this really ugly jacket with wide lapels that were embroidered at the edges so he looked like a cross between a carnival barker and a train conductor. I suppose it was the goofy hat that gave him the train conductor look. I know, I know. Captain. It was a captain's hat. I was three or four. Maybe five. I hadn't quite figured out that whole logic thing yet.

I tried to summon my memories of the captain's show without Googling it and came up with vague recollections of ping pong balls and treasure. At least I think that was Captain Kangaroo. It could be one of those sordid high school memories I try to keep supressed.

What I remember clearly is Mr. Green Jeans, who I used to call Mr. Green Beans. Either the show swtiched to color after a while or my father coughed up some cash for a color television, because I clearly remember seeing Mr. Green Beans in green clothes. He would bring live animals on the show and teach us all about the care and feeding of farm animals and I swore that some day I would be a farmer and raise pigs and cows and chickens until it dawned on me that most of my dinners came from those animals. After that, any time Mr. Green Beans brought a farm animal onto the show I would automatically start drooling and chant mmmmmm.....sides of beef.

The Captain also entertained the kiddies by showing a great cartoon called Tom Terrific. Tom was a swell, super boy who had a great imagination and could turn himself into anything he wanted. He wore a funnel on his head for some reason. When I was older I remarked that it looked like a boobie with a really big nipple. That went over well. Anyhow, Tom had a goofy looking pink dog (maybe I never did watch the black and white version) who never seemed to do anything but hang around while Tom transformed himself into superhero after superhero. I remember thinking that Tom's power would be a great thing to have because if I had to go to the bathroom I could just turn myself into a toilet bowl. And then I realized that meant I would have to piss on myself so I concentrated on becoming Superman instead.

Hold on. I was eulogizing Captain Kangaroo, wasn't I? Well, the captain hails from Long Island, which made him a big hit in our house because my mother, even though she was originally from Brooklyn, has this weird Long Island pride that causes her squeal in delight everytime an actor or sports person from the Island shows up on tv. And then she'll say it over and over again, each time: Did you know he's from Long Island? Sigh. Yes, mom. We know.

I often wished that Captain Kangaroo was my grandfather. Who wouldn't want a grandpa like that? Cool mustache, charming demeanor, great storyteller, patience of a saint and his friend Mr. Green Beans brought him animals each day that he could keep and then when the show was over he would kill them and serve them for dinner while he told funny jokes, unlike my real grandfather, who drank too much wine and every night told us the same story about how he met Jimmy Rosselli. Then again, I'll miss grandpa more than I'll ever miss Captain Kangaroo. There's a lesson in there somewhere. Probably something along the lines of "Captain Kangaroo wasn't a real person, jackass."

I'm still not sure what I learned from Captain Kangaroo. I don't think it was the alphabet or numbers or the capital of Wisconsin. Ok, so I learned how to love meat. And I learned that a man who perpetually looked like a grandfather will cause much surprise when he dies at the age of 76, almost 40 years after you thought he was already 86.

Farewell, Captain.

Update: I forgot to mention that Bob Keeshan was on the school board in West Islip, Long Island and is pictured in my mother's high school yearbook. Just a bit of useless trivia. Or not so useless.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Another icon of my youth kicks the bucket:

» Mr. Green Jeans from Inoperable Terran
Captain Kangaroo is dead. Michele has the best eulogy I've seen so far. Go read every word. (Incidentally, I'm going to try for a No Politics Friday Afternoon, which means only non-political posts until the end of the day).... [Read More]

» SCORE - BOB KEESHAN from Amish Tech Support
Good Morning, Captain, how are you today? *sniff* *sniff* *ewwwwwwwwww* Better start digging a grave, Mister Green Jeans. Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo and Clarabell the Clown, is dead. He was 76. (Alert via ABC News) He's best known (and least... [Read More]

» And Bunny Rabbit Mourns from Your Guess Is As Good As Mine
Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo, died. Later... Michele had a good "obit".... [Read More]

» Around The Horn On A Lazy Friday from DiVERSiONZ
My New Year's Resolution was to read more blogs (and some people consider cutting back--HA!) so before I go off [Read More]

» Why the long faces? from Bloviating Inanities
Captain Kangaroo may be gone, but we still have Cap'n Crunch! [Read More]

» Two down... from Rocket Jones
Many have already written about the passing of Captain Kangaroo. I grew up watching him (and Romper Room with Miss Maryann, and Beanie & Cecil). He was my first best friend. Also, the incredible Ann Miller has left us. In... [Read More]

» SCORE - BOB KEESHAN from The Dead Pool
Good Morning, Captain, how are you today? *sniff* *sniff* *ewwwwwwwwww* Better start digging a grave, Mister Green Jeans. Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo and Clarabell the Clown, is dead. He was 76. (Alert via ABC News) He's best known (and least... [Read More]

Comments

ooh nooo!

Like you I fondly remember watching the Captain, altough only in color. What I found most interesting was he was 27 when he started the show. As a child I always considered him to be a grandfather type, but when I was watching in the late 60s he was only about the age I am now. I admired his post-Kangaroo work against tobacco advertising and in various child advocacy roles. I know I feel a whole lot older today, knowing he is gone.

Dang. Here's you you cap (empties forty out on office floor).

What was the name of the moose? I watched the Captain religiously. Damn.

Memories fade so much after time, but wasn't there a hand puppet named Mr. Bunny or Mr. Rabbit or Mr. Bunny Rabbit on the show? I do remember getting up to watch it at around 6 AM (MST) when I was about 5 or so.

It was Mr Moose who dumped the ping-pong balls on the captain. And Bunny Rabbit who stole the carrots.

I remember he was always pitching Wonder bread, you know with the red, yellow and something balloons on the package.

Thought he died years ago. RIP, Captain.

Although I enjoyed Mr. Moose, somehow that Bunny Rabbit caused me no little distress. Perhaps it was the way he would communicate by impatiently banging his face on the desk; not to mention the fact that he stole those carrots (but the Captain must share the blame -- you should only be fooled by a bunny puppet once). I remember fighting with my big brother over whether the Treasure House was a real house or just a set (I guess he was right after all). I never cared for that grandfather clock with the freaky looking face (worse than the sun-baby in tele-tubby land).Ah... so many memories.

My mommy promised me that she would marry the Cap'n.

Long time ago, in a land far away, when children were talked to quitely, respectfully, and innocently--when they were encouraged to play nicely, to read, and sit at attention when an adult, who spoke barely above a whisper, had their undivided attention.

More than the Cap'n has gone from the world.

Wow..I'd forgotten about Tom Terrific and Grandfather clock. I loved Mr. Moose and the ping-pong balls. I too was confused by the Mr. Green Jeans thing, since we only had a B/W TV.

So long cap'n. We need more guys like you for todays kids.

Dancing Bear -- anybody remember Dancing Bear?

Wasn't his face flat? I always had trouble recognizing him as a bear because of that. Yogi's face wasn't flat.

...Bunny Rabbit caused me no little distress. Perhaps it was the way he would communicate by impatiently banging his face on the desk

I can see that (giggle). It must be some memory left from early childhood.

I was in Canada as a tot... Anyone remember some saturday/sunday morning little kids show with some of the people who were later on SCTV.

I have a vague memory of a vampire.

Those who don't know SCTV should look it up, it was sort of a Canadian wing of Saturday night live, but with a very different format (no audience for instance).

By the way, can any of you name Tom Terrific's pet? I can because I'm old. Mail me if you know or want the answer. Or, if you meet me at the BABB tonight, I'll tell you in person.

The reason I was allowed to watch Capt. Kangaroo is because people were referred to as Mr. So-n-So (Mr. Green Jeans, Mr. Moose, etc.) My parents had an odd thing about teaching me manners and actually expecting me to use them. I agree with Mrs. du Toit about a lot of things missing today. Too bad there isn't someone around like Capt. to encourage the good behaviors by his example.

Bill, it was red, yellow and blue baloons on tghat Wonder bread (I think it still is) and it helped build strong bodies 12 ways.

I completely forgot about Tom Terrific too. I loved the ping pong balls and the rabbit, but Mr Greenjeans was my favorite. My mom tells me I made up a song about him when I was like three and sang it every time he came on.

I always thought it was weird that Cap looked so old but was blonde, instead of grey. I have no idea why that bothered me...

I remember the ping pong balls best of all. And yeah, I remember the dancing bear and being a little weirded out by his flat face.

I liked the stories and the animal segments best, I think.

I don't really remember Tom Terrific except that the villain's name was Crabby Appleton, and he was rotten to the core. I think the dog's name had "Wonder Dog" somewhere in it and the idea was he made you wonder (because he didn't do jack...)

Also, when I was a kid (early to mid 70s) they also showed a cartoon called Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings. It was a British import, I guess, I still remember the little theme song and the accents of the characters. I still have a soft spot for the name Simon because of that cartoon.

It's funny, but I feel sadder over the demise of people like the Captain and Mr. Rogers than I do over most "famous people" deaths. I think it's because somewhere deep in a corner of my soul, there's a four or five year old who expects that the Captain and Mr. Rogers and Jim Henson will always be there, and is surprised to find that they are as mortal as anyone else...

Josh, are you talking about Count Floyd?

Tanya
YES!!!

Quote: I think it's because somewhere deep in a corner of my soul, there's a four or five year old who expects that the Captain and Mr. Rogers and Jim Henson will always be there, and is surprised to find that they are as mortal as anyone else...

Well said.
Dunno why, but this really bummed me out today. Prolly because all my kids have to look up to is "The Wiggles"...bleeech

Or maybe not. Floyd was SCTV.. Not sure what the character I'm remembering was called. I remember it was slow kinda boring, almost hard to watch. But it had the advantage of being wierd.

What about Clarabelle, people??? SHE died today too!

Tom Terrific's lethargic "wonder" dog was named Manfred.

YES!! Manfred the Mighty Wonder Dog!Excellent call CGH.

I'll have to ask my Dad if he remembers. Whatever this was was so short lived and forgetable that even Google can't find it - ie it isn't on the web.

"I remember thinking that Tom's power would be a great thing to have because if I had to go to the bathroom I could just turn myself into a toilet bowl."

Michele, if ya had Tom's powers ya could just change to a boy, then ya wouldn't need a toilet to pee.

Uh, Josh, you are not referrrin to Dark Shadows are ya?

We just ran a really good segment on The Good Captain on "All Things Considered". I'll send you a link so you can listen to it when the network posts it on our web page.

D

I seem to remember that Bob Keesahan also played Clarabelle the Clown on the Howdy Doody show, but despite the name, I thought Clarabelle was a he. The sex interest on Howdy Doody was Princess SummerFallWinterSpring.

RIP, Captain.
Take some comfort in the knowledge that you seriously kick Barney's ass...

Actually, it was Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog. And those villians that Tom Teriffic had to deal with...Musclehead, Isotope Feeny, and of course, Crabby Appleton!

My name is Crabby Appleton
And I am simply awful
It tittilates my funny bone
To do a deed unlawful!

Didn't the Captain also have the cartoons featuring Lariat Sam and his horse Francis? And the villain was Badlands Meany (with his side-kick "Bushwack")!

I liked the little people who lived behind the books in the book-shelves - the little mini-family who had a whole LIFE going on back there - whenever Captain would reach up and take a book down off the shelf. As a little girl, that was my absolute favorite.

Beautiful memoir-piece, Michele.

Thanks, Joe. I forgot about the building strong bodies 12 ways.

Does anybody else remember the Banana Man (on Capain Kangaroo)? Or was I a 5 year old on drugs?

The captain also had a dog running around the Treasure House. The dog's name was Phoebie.