A long time ago, it seems, America had quality children’s television programming. Long before political activism took over the “education” of children, we had Captain Kangaroo.
It was one of the longest-running children’s programs, airing from 1955 to 1984. When I was a child, I eagerly looked forward to 8 am, Monday through Friday, and I would sit for an hour with the Captain, Mr. Green Jeans, Mr. Moose (and the ping pong balls he would drop on the Captain’s head), Bunny Rabbit, Grandfather Clock, Dancing Bear and Magic Drawing Board. They would tell jokes, sing songs, have drama (“the Town Clown”), teach history (this was where I first heard of Leonardo DaVinci and Thomas Jefferson), show us a creative cartoon (“Tom Terrific”), and tell me fascinating true stories about nature, science and technology, and foreign lands and cultures.
Captain Kangaroo taught me how to teach. If I were at home due to sickness, or we had a holiday during the week, even when I was in high school or college, I would watch Captain Kangaroo. No kidding! I would watch and take good notes on how he and his team would teach children. If you can teach a six year old truth about history and science, you can teach anyone.
Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo), and Hugh “Lumpy” Brannum (Mr. Green Jeans) believed that children had good taste, and knew when something was silly and stupid and valueless, and when something was of good quality and had lasting value. They did not believe in indoctrinating children; they were truly edifying, equipping, and educating children with meaningful truth.
If you remember the old shows as I do, then you know what I’m talking about. If you are too young to remember, see if you can find some episodes online or on CDs…compare them with “children’s entertainment” today…and you will see the contrast.
What a wonderful foundation the Captain and his friends at “The Treasure House” gave me. I smile every time I think about those days.