Do You Remember These?

Do You Remember These?


By Elton Camp


            Unless you are around my age of seventy years, it’s highly unlikely that you will have heard of the radio and television programs described in this article.  Just the same, some younger people will find this interesting and informative.  So keep an open mind and give it a try.  Read about Big Jon and Sparkie and then Captain Video. 


            During my younger childhood days, there was a weekly radio program that I made sure never to miss.  It was named Big Jon and Sparkie. Big Jon sounded like a man and Sparkie seemed to be a boy, but with a squeaky voice, like some type of fantasy creature.  It was never explained, so each child had his own version of the duo.  The two (actually one man doing both voices as I learned decades later) talked back and forth after the introductory song, “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.”  The delightful child’s song went like this:


If you go out in the woods today You’re sure of a big surprise. 

If you go out in the woods today, you’d better go in disguise.  

For every bear that ever there was will gather there for certain because

today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic. 

Picnic time for teddy bears, the little teddy bears are having a lovely time today.  Watch them, catch them unawares and see them picnic on their holiday. 

See them gaily dance about.  They love to play and shout. 

And never have any cares. 

At six o’clock their mommies and daddies will take them home to bed because they’re tired little teddy bears. 

If you go out in the woods today, you’d better not go alone. 

It’s lovely out in the woods today but safer to stay at home. 

For every bear that ever there was will gather there for certain because

today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic. 

Every teddy bear that’s been good is due of a treat today. 

There’s lots of wonderful things to eat and wonderful games to play. 

Beneath the trees, where nobody sees, they’ll hide and seek as long as they please.  Today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic.


            For sure, it’s not great writing, but I’d take it anytime over something like “Scooby Dooby Do, Where are You?” from television that entertained my daughter when she was that age.


            Each Saturday Big Jon and Sparkie announced that children were having birthdays, but only rarely mentioned a name and then with a disclaimer that it wasn’t normally done.  I assumed those few were children who were in imminent danger of death.  The associated song that went like this:



            Today is a birthday I wonder for whom. 

            I know it’s for someone who’s right in this room. 

            So look all around you for somebody who

            is smiling and happy. 

            My goodness, it’s you! 

            Happy birthday friends, from all of us to you. 

            Happy birthday friends from mommy and daddy too. 

            We congratulate you and pray good luck follows through. 

            Happy birthday friends. 

            May all of your good dreams come true.


            Why didn’t they just use the familiar song, “Happy Birthday to You?”  For the same reason that restaurants won’t allow employees to sing it to customers, but make up their own song.  That universally-known tune is under copyright and will remain so until at least the year 2030.  Any time it is used in a radio or television program or any other commercial enterprise, it has to be credited and a royalty paid.  Of course, it isn’t likely the authorities will close in on anyone singing it in a private home at a child’s party, but hey, you never know!  I hope that the songs I quoted above aren’t still under copyright or if they are, that this constitutes “fair use.”  If not, the copyright holder can let me know and I’ll delete the story.  I’m sure not making any money from it.


            The only other radio program that I liked was Captain Video, which later moved to television.  It was exciting and I eagerly looked forward to it each Saturday.  I can’t recall any of the story lines, probably because the far more dramatic television version has wiped them from memory. 


            It was from the TV Captain Video that I first learned about hyper light travel (called “high lin”), space helmets, and force fields.  His space ship was called the “Galaxy.”  It landed on planets, tail downward in an exciting blaze of fire.  Of course, it reversed the process on takeoff.  Wimpy transporters hadn’t yet been imagined.  The crew was only two–Captain Video himself and Ranger, his young assistant.  Ranger was only several years older than I, so I identified with him.  The program didn’t try to stick to reality as to the size of the Milky Way.  Both Captain Video and aliens regularly and quickly traveled among galaxies. 


            The space helmets that the actors wore when they were depicted as being in an airless environment were originally based on the idea of a “force field” keeping in oxygen and out the cold of space.  That way, their heads and faces were always visible.  Then came an abrupt change to small, tight enclosed helmets with clear plastic across the face.  The new equipment was worked into the story line and described as far better than the former arrangement.  I thought they looked terrible.  A short while later, the real reason for the change emerged.  The helmets were for sale to viewers.  I was young, but not stupid.  The cheap trick repelled me so much that I had no desire to buy one of the contraptions. 


            The films for the entire set of science fiction episodes were later destroyed to obtain their silver content.  The only survivors are scattered episodes of the very earliest years when it was cheaply made and silly, not a serious science fiction show.  When it abruptly vanished, without warning or explanation, I was terribly disappointed.  For weeks, I tuned in at the regular time with the hope that it would somehow reappear. 


            So, if you read this far, I wonder what you think.  Was it worth the time?  These programs are part of the history of early programs for children.  It would be a shame if they come to be entirely forgotten.  Maybe this story will help perpetuate memory of them. 

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Big Jon and Sparkie from radio and Captain Video from radio and then television.