Do you remember those kiddy programs that would be broadcast from the local TV station every weekday afternoon when you were growing up? They were usually hosted by a local personality that kids adored, such as a clown, a Mister Rogers type, or in my case, a captain of a ship.
came on every afternoon at 4:00 pm and was broadcast from KENS-TV Channel 5 out of San Antonio. He had bright red hair, red mustache, would sit on this ship in the studio and begin the program with, “Ahoy there, little mateys!”
Cartoons like Popeye and Bugs Bunny would be interspersed with Captain Gus entertaining us “little mateys” throughout the hour.
Of course, my younger brother and I loved to watch Captain Gus. It was like kiddie crack.
Next to Captain Gus’s ship would be a dozen or so little kids sitting on bales of hay throughout the program. At one part, he would announce that we were going to “meet the mateys” and he would come around to each kid, one by one. Each “matey” would get to say their name, where they were from, and Captain Gus would usually ask them an interactive question or two.
At the end of each program, the good captain would let us know how we could be a matey on his show.
Oh my gosh,
I wanted to be a matey! The kids looked like they were having such a good time and I wanted to be one of them. More than anything in the whole wide world, I wanted to be a matey on The Captain Gus Show.
After begging and pleading, my mom or my dad did manage to get me a “matey reservation” on the program. I was SO excited. I was five or six years old and I think my younger brother was too little to be a matey.
So, we drove the 70 miles to San Antonio and my dad took me inside the TV station. I was going to be a matey!
I remember it like it was yesterday. We walked into the studio and there was Captain Gus’s ship, the bales of hay where the matey’s sat, the bright lights, the TV cameras. . . .
. . . . And I totally freaked.
I just lost it.
I wouldn’t let go of my dad’s hand. Tears and wailing ensued. I just couldn’t go through with it. It was all too much.
Maybe it never occurred to me that my dad would be in another room and I’d be alone with the mateys. Maybe I was afraid my dad wouldn’t be able to find me afterward and I’d be cast adrift on Captain Gus’s ship forever. Maybe the bright lights and big studio frightened me. Maybe I was shy and didn’t know any of these other kids. But whatever it was, there was no way I was letting go of my dad’s hand and sit on those bales of hay.
Anyway, I missed my big chance to be on TV. Afterward, I’d watch Captain Gus and his mateys with a pang of regret.
These were much braver kids than I.
Labels: Captain Gus Show, KENS-TV, San Antonio