Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Big Giant Grin

That's what I got today when I happened upon the website to Captain Ernie's Cartoon Showboat. This year marks the Golden anniversary of the very popular local kids cartoon show that came out of WOC in Davenport, IA.

I was looking for images of paddle wheelers in Davenport, IA. What I am specifically looking for is website with vintage photos from around the Eastern Iowa/Western Illinois area. I had it bookmarked before I had to reformat my computer. I was looking for the photo that had led me to that site to begin with and instead I found my childhood.

I'm sure just about every broadcast area in the country had a local kids show with cartoons and a great character host. Sitting at school, watching the clock for the last bell so you could run home with your friends either to one of their homes or yours, piling on the sofa, the chairs and the floor to watch your favoritist show in the whole wide world. Ours growing up in the Quad Cities was Captain Ernie's Cartoon Showboat. The show ran the classic Looney Tunes, Hannah Barbara and Three Stooges and in between there was our beloved Captain Ernie. Oh how we were envious of those kids on the bleachers who actually got to be on the show.

Most of us got to go on the Captain Ernie show usually through our Brownie/Girl Scout or Cub Scout/Boy Scout troops. I was one of those lucky ones. How I hoped we would go on my birthday, but alas, it was not to be so. How I hoped he would pick me to talk to, but again, it was not to be so. I think he picked Marjorie and Lisa. I know for sure he picked Lisa Klemme for a photo that is on the website. It is Ernie Mims aka Captain Ernie with three Brownies. They are Lisa, for some reason I have never forgotton her after all these years, and I think Marjorie Majors and Michelle Muenster.

I remember my Aunt telling me that Captain Ernie lived down the street from her. Everytime we would drive over to her house I would scan the houses hoping to catch a glimpse, wondering if the front door with the anchor on it was his.

I was gutted when the last show aired on August 2nd, 1974. I remember what Captain Ernie said at the end of the show. That this was going to be the last for awhile, the Dixie Belle was going into dry dock for some repairs and we will be back some day. Thirty-four years later I'm still waiting for that some day.

Almost twenty years later I was having dinner with some friends at the Filling Station when Ernie Mims came in. I was a little girl again. I gushed to my friends, "Oh my gawd, it's Captain Ernie!" I had to quickly explain to them who he was because they did not grow up around the area, the one of my friends stands up and shouts over to Mr. Mims, "Hey Captain Ernie!" Mr. Mims turned around with a big grin, waved and said, "Hiya kids!" I nearly died.

Something I didn't know until I was reading the website was that Vern Gielow had been the Captain of the Dixie Belle previous to Ernie Mims. That floored me. Mr. Gielow had been a customer of mine at the various restaurants I had work in over the years. It had just never come up in the conversations I guess.

Happy Birthday to the Cartoon Showboat. Happy belated Birthday to Ernie Mims. Neither of you will ever be forgotten by the baby boomers that grew up in the Quad Cities during that era.

The website brings back so many other memories growing up in the Quad Cities and the local programming that I enjoyed so much. More on those later.

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