Tuesday, August 9, 2016
A Wondrous Time Abandoned, A World Lost To Us
There's was an actual time when there was local children's television programming. Here in Philadelphia it was populated by characters such as Sally Starr, Chief Halftown, Gene London, Pixanne, Uncle Pete, Willie the Worm, Bertie the Bunyip and Captain and Mrs. Noah who inhabited a magical arc.
The shows were gentle, caring and taught kids good values. They stressed sharing, kindness, faith, respect for elders, love of family and good citizenship.
This was a time when children were actually encouraged to be children and childhood was embraced and supported as a wondrous time of innocence, unstructured play, imagination and unfettered discovery. These hosts and their guests lived in that magical land of childhood.
If you grew up during this time (or an even earlier time of Howdy Doody or Captain Kangaroo or Kukla, Fran and Ollie) you are lucky, indeed. You have all those wonderful memories of your distinctive, loving TV friends and role models.
So many of these great TV legends are now passing on. In fact, we've just received news that W. Carter Merbreier, known for decades to children's television audiences as Captain Noah, has died at the age of 90.
Merbreier, who was an ordained Lutheran minister and former chaplain for the Philadelphia Police Department, created and co-hosted the long-running syndicated children's television series "Captain Noah and His Magical Ark," which aired on 6abc (WPVI-TV) in Philadelphia for 27 years.
At its peak in the early 1970s, "Captain Noah and His Magical Ark" was broadcast in syndication on 22 television stations throughout the United States and attracted a larger local Philadelphia audience than both Captain Kangaroo and Sesame Street combined. Carter and Patricia Merbreier jointly decided to retire and end the show in 1994 after co-hosting approximately 3,600 episodes.
Goodbye, Captain Noah -- and thank you!