Saturday, March 07, 2009


Uncle Al died on Saturday February 28.

Boy am I sad.

For a kid born in the 1950's in the Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky area the typical weekday morning ritual began with getting a bowl of cornflakes and sitting in front of the 24" Sylvania console TV at 8:30 am watching Uncle Al and Captain Windy.

Uncle Al was just plain fascinating to a three year old.

This guy could do anything.

He could draw pictures. He could play accordion. He could sing. He could play guitar. He could play banjo. He flew an airplane. (He was a licensed pilot) Was there anything he couldn't do?

Plus his wife was Captain Windy. She could fly! Honest! And she wore a cape. (see my treatise on capes). My parents were great, but didn't play musical instruments, fly airplanes and my Mom couldn't even fly.

Not only that Uncle Al sold stuff. And he sang about the stuff he sold.

B-A-R-Q apostrophe S
That spells Barq's and it's the best.
Are you thirsty, well I guess,
it's B-A-R-Q-S root beer.


My good friends are Pat and Joe
Pat and Joe, Pat and Joe
My good friends are Pat and Joe
They'll save your Mommy dough.

and the best was the second verse:

Then we'll get some lollipops too
Lollipops too, lollipops too.
Then we'll get some lollipops too
They'll save your Mommy dough.

And of course,

Mommas little baby loves
Mommas Cookies
Mommas little baby loves
Mommas best.

Mommas little baby loves
Mommas Cookies
Mommas little baby loves
Mommas best.

Uncle Al and Captain Windy were joined by various folks. There was Uncle Al's dog, Pal the Dog and Lucky the Clown. The Merry Mailman brought mail every day. Yes, back in the day, mailmen used to be merry.

Patches was a clown of sorts that appeared on the show. Also Ringo-Rango was the token cowboy, his name from a song of the era.

The weather report was done by children after singing, "What is the weather today, today? What is the weather today? Will it rain, will it snow, will it sunshine tell us so?" after which a child would appear dressed up as a cloud or the sun or a snowflake.

There were some very real folks that appeared or worked behind the scenes, Mike Tangi, Bob Shreve, Tom McGreavy, Larry Smith and his magical puppets, Janet Greene and Jack Williams. Even Seymour Duncan, a fellow that has become world renown for his excellent guitar pickups had a brief tenure on the show.

The show ran from 1950 to 1985. There were aproximately 15,000 episodes and over 440,000 children were guests on the show.

We all learned how to dance the Hokey Pokey. The show opened each morning with a song from Walt Disney's Pinnochio called "Following The Leader" and in later years it closed with another Disney tune, "It's A Small World" with the children marching off the set.

Uncle Al's favorite story was of a lady that came up to him and confessed to being the little girl that tinkled in his accordian. Yep. Uncle Al had to send his beloved accordian back to Milwaukee to be repaired due to wee-wee in the bellows. He had a tough time explaining that to the manufacturer.

Uncle Al closed each show with a prayer. Try doing that on television today and you'd not only get letters, you'd have the ACLU on your back.

But Uncle Al was a Christian and every morning we all folded our little hands and said:

"Help me, God, to love you more,
Than I ever did before,
In my work and in my play,
Please be with me through the day,
Thank you for the friends we meet,
Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you, God, for everything!"

Uncle Al and Captain Windy retired to their farm in Hillsboro Ohio to retire and entertain their children and grandchildren. We baby boomers in this area grew up with him and will miss him very much. Those were special times and Al and Wanda Lewis were special people.

The funeral mass was said today for Uncle Al, but I am told there were some wonderful additions to his service.

The Channel 9 Logo from the 1950's was displayed. Commercial jingles were played for those in attendance and everyone danced the Hokey Poky. The service concluded with the voice of Uncle Al reciting his shows closing prayer.

Uncle Al and Captain Windy made a difference. May God bless his soul and give his family comfort.

Uncle Al also has a message to pass along to Colton, Hope, Benjamin and Trevan. He used to sing this song:

"Put your toys away,
don't delay.
Then when you want them,
you can find them right away.
Put your toys away,
don't delay.
Help your Mommy have a
happy day."

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