Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Captain 11

“Captain 11. Today’s man of the future. One man in each century is given the power to control time. The man chosen to receive this power is carefully selected. He must be kind. He must be fair. He must be brave. You have fulfilled these requirements; and, we of the outer galaxies designate to you the wisdom of Solomon and the strength of Atlas. You are Captain 11!”

Don't ask me why I've jumped from Grandma Phoebe to Captain 11. I guess I was looking back at people who inspire others and I had the words above saved in a file. I met Captain 11 when I was 5 years old and in the hospital. He came to the children's ward giving out balloons. Mine was red and it floated for ages in our toy room in the basement until it sank and shriveled up into the corner.
Captain 11 was on KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, SD for over 40 years running from March 1955, to December 1996. Anyone who watched the children's program remembers, "Wave one hand, both hands, then both hands and jump with both feet." Then he would say "freeze" and pick a lucky "crew member" out of the audience and lift them up as a frozen statue.
I saw Dave Dedrick as an adult a few years ago at a distant cousins funeral visitation and part of me became that child in awe of "Captain 11". I didn't feel it was appropriate to approach him at the funeral home but did get his e-mail from a relative and wrote him telling him my memories of him and the show and that I was now an art teacher. Dave Dedrick a.k.a. "Captain 11" wrote me back:

October 2005
Dear Diane,
I am flattered that you remember. I am also amazed at how frequently I am contacted by former Crew Members. Letters, phone calls, emails....all recalling some special thing we shared.
In retirement I can honestly say the rapport that exists between Crew Members and the Captain is most gratifying. Three generations of little people in four states have found a few moments for a flicker-flashback setting of happiness and carefree times.
That is most obvious when someone sees me in a restaurant or a hardware store and I stand in awe as I observe them staring intently before they point and ask," Are you Captain 11?"
"I used to be"
Then the metamorphoses sets in and they revert to being a little child as they rattle off their recollections of childhood memories. It is a wonder to behold. I just love it.
Thank you for writing and sharing...take good care of my little friends...

Here are the Johnson kids back in the days when we were avid Captain watchers. We're on vacation at Paul Bunyan Land in Bemidji, MN in 1963. Trivia question - What is the name of Paul Bunyan's dog? Left to Right: Debbie, Diane, Steve and Joe.

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