Monday, May 18, 2009

I Was a Captain Chesapeake Crewmember

My Most Treasured Membership Card

"A shipwrecked sailor found himself in a plight. Lost at sea he was really a sight. He swam and swam 'til he thought he'd die, when a wondrous sight appeared to his eye. A derelict boat that saved his life and put an end to his watery strife."

Hey, I recently posted some pix of some of my most treasured ID cards, but no one is closer to my heart than my Captain Chesapeake Crewmember card. Captain Chesapeake sailed the placid seas of Loch Raven Reservoir with his crew of Bruce the (invisible) Bird and Andrewclaws the Lion (who eventually ran away "Downy Ocean" - to Ocean City, MD) from 1971-1990 until passing away at the age of 74 in 2000 at his (landlocked) Timonium home. Captain C's afternnoon TV block on Baltimore station WBFF-TV (Channel 45) gave me my education in the history of low-brow populist entertainment. It was thanks to him that I got my daily fix of Batman, The Three Stooges, Crusader Rabbit, Cisco Kid, Our Gang/The Little Rascals, Felix the Cat, and all those Hanna-Barbara cartoons, especially my fave cat-and-dog-strange-alliance cartoon Ruff and Ready (featuring Professor Gizmo and with voices by Daws Butler and Don Messick!). Needless to say, in the pre-Internet, pre-cable, pre-On Demand Seventies, Captain Chesapeake was a Godsend to high school and college stoners everywhere; it was always "4:20" when you heard the Cap'n ring his bell!

And it was thanks to the nepotism of George Lewis, who portrayed Captain C (as well as Ghost Host and before that "Steamboat Bill" - a W. C. Fields reference, of course - when he was kiddie host in Huntington, West Virginia) that I first got exposed to his niece, future Maryland Lottery Ball Girl Katrina Owens. Unfortunately, appearing on "Captain Chesapeake" was probably the peak of her television career - I'll never forget the night the lottery ball machine malfunctioned and Katrina had to ad-lib live for 3 minutes, her smooth "That's the number 6, as printed on the ball" delivery interrupted by a sudden short-tempered aggravation fit; her "career" never recovered, even when she later started dating Orioles).

Capt. C. Intro, set to the Three Suns tune "Stumblin'"

Later in life I met Capt. C's sea monster "Mondy" (pronounced Moan-dee), who was sort of a Grade-Z Loch Ness Monster (or rather, a Loch Raven Reservior Monster), working as a cameraman for a local news station. When I told Mondy that I was a fan, he replied, "Oh God, that's a part of my life I was hoping to forget!"

Phooey, Mondy! As Capt. Willard said in Apocalypse Now, you're either on the boat or you're off the boat. So be proud and don't abandon ship!

So long crewmembers!

Captain C links:
Captain Chesapeake Intro (video)
A few minutes with Captain Chesapeake (video)
Capt. C Obit

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

He was also ghost host.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Katrina was not related to him, so no nepotism there. There were many people who wore the "Mondy" suit, including kids, interns, etc.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Crewmember Jonathan said...

He did have daughters that appeared on the show. "Be somebody important be yourself!" RIP Captain...

8:21 AM  
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3:11 AM  

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