There are some aspects of daily life that become so ubiquitous that we forget individual examples of those aspects. We remember being a child, but we only remember a very few specific details of our childhood. That period of our lives seems mostly to be a big blur.
Television programs exemplify this quite well. I think one of the best ways to think of this is to remember what we used to view on television when we were very young. I remember watching the “Captain Kangaroo” show nearly every single morning. This habit began nearly 50-years-ago. As I write this paragraph, I shudder to imagine how long ago that was.
There is one sound that makes me think of Captain Kangaroo, that is the noise that a keyring makes if someone is jostling a batch of keys. I have a wristwatch with a mechanical kinetic feature that sounds like a very quiet version of a keychain when I move my arm a particular way. While drinking my coffee this morning, the watch triggered the Captain Kangaroo theme song in my head.
I decided to grab a notepad so I could jot down the features of the program. The first detail I remember was one that I learned well after I outgrew the show. The Captain was played by Bob Keeshan. It is my opinion that Mr. Keeshan genuinely loved children.
If I recall correctly, his character’s name was derived from his tunic equipped with very large pockets. He kept his large keyring in one of those pockets. He jingled the keyring before unlocking the doors to the “Treasure House”. Hence my mental association with jingling keys and the Captain Kangaroo theme song. The other regular item stored in the pockets were carrots for “Bunny Rabbit”. I had a love/hate feeling for “Bunny Rabbit”. He seemed like a creepy, surreal puppet. I always knew “Bunny Rabbit” was a puppet. I think the eyeglasses really put me off. He also looked like taxidermy gone haywire.
The same for Mr. Moose. But Mr. Moose seemed to be more benign and simply weird in a friendly way. Another surreal character was “Grandfather Clock”. I don’t remember if the clock was used in time telling lessons, it probably was. The face looked like something out of an old fashioned children’s novel. Looking at a photo of “Grandfather Clock” I think whoever designed the face was smoking hallucenagenics or had a warped sense of reality.
In fact, I think not only Captain Kangaroo, but his characters and the series specific cartoon, “Tom Terrific” came from some nearly unspeakable place in an alternate universe. The same is true for nearly all of contemporary children’s cartoon shows.
The big reality check was Mr. Greenjeans. I liked him almost as much as the Captain. Mr. Greenjeans presented educational vignettes with actual living things like small animals. Mr. Greenjeans really grounded the entire show with his funky, no- nonsense appearances. About the time I’d had more than enough of “Bunny Rabbit”, Mr. Greenjeans walked onto the set to save the day.
Captain Kangaroo also had a Saturday show. I rarely saw it though. My siblings and I always wanted to watch the Saturday morning cartoons. I guess we just needed a break from the weekday routine.
The Blue Jay of Happiness still has nightmares about “Bunny Rabbit”.