My name is Larry Iverson and I was selected as Casey Jones Junior and was a guest of the Casey Jones show and WTCN for one day somewhere in the 1956-1957 timeframe—the exact date lost in my memory archives.
On November 24 of 1956, a big event was scheduled. To help kick off the holiday season, Santa Claus was to land in a helicopter in the field at North High School. As part of the proceedings children were invited to enter the contest to be selected as “West Broadway’s Casey Jones Junior” and “spend a day with Casey and appear on the Casey Jones show”. Casey Jones and Joe the Cook were on hand to select the winners. Lo and behold, my name and another child’s were drawn from the proverbial hat by Casey and Joe. We were scheduled to spend a day with Casey and appear on the show. I did appear on one episode of the show, and spent some time with Casey on WTCN’s tab–they provided a train ride to St. Paul and a meal at a fancy restaurant; the “Driftwood Room.”
I also received a Casey Jones engineer outfit (that I had to wear to the show), and a Casey Jones doll in full engineer regalia which I still have. There was also a train schedule and some engineer notes, sadly lost over the years. The Casey Jones outfit that I received was also quickly lost to the washing machine due to repeated wearings and washings. I don’t recall too much more about the event except some disappointment that the inside shots of Casey in the locomotive were from a painted prop in the studio. It always strikes me funny as Casey and Joe would talk about eating healthy meals and the like, and just about every one of Casey’s meals was finished off with that most healthy of desert, a crème filled cupcake!
Enclosed is a snapshot of the Casey Jones Junior doll that I received as a momento when I was on the show. There was a red bandana and a matching jacket that went with it that have managed to disappear over the years.
I have a newspaper article, I just couldn’t get a good enough scan for it to be readible, so I have transcribed the text of the article below. On the reverse side of the Casey Jones Junior article one can see parts of ads from “Tile Mart” and “Laun-Dry-Clean” and and a house cleaning service all with old style two character “named” prefix phone numbers. There is also a snippet of a political article that makes reference to Sen. Hubert Humphrey and the possibilities of him being considered for Democratic candidate for President in 4 years. Fascinating.
4,500 North Siders See, Hear, Cheer West Broadway’s Flying Santa Claus
The air was crisp, the morning clear. And Santa came to the North Side by helicopter. A crowd of 4,500 packed the bleachers and hung on the fences of North high school’s athletic field last Saturday, Nov. 24, amused by the antics of Casey Jones. Promptly at 10:30 a dull, quick paced sound brought all eyes skyward as Santa’s helicopter hovered over the field. Old St. Nick’s bright red suit was easily seen through the plexiglass bubble on the front of the plane. Quickly landing, Santa was escorted to the stand by members of the West Broadway Business association as 4,500 people (most of them kids) made a bit more noise than you would have thought possible. After giving our junior queen and commodore a special hug, Santa begin to distribute the several hundreds of pounds of candy he brought from the North Pole. As the candy line formed, the 50 fortunate youngsters who asked WTCN’s disc jockeys for their free helicopter ride tickets were brought on to the field to await their turn. Taking the children in groups of three, the big plane darted quickly from the group, climbed to 500 feet in a graceful arch, danced lightly overhead, and then swooped down to the ground. As your Post reporter saw the kids leave the plane with big smiles, he swallowed his pride, reached deep in his pocket for the ticket he thought he’d never use, and patiently took his place in line. Yes sir, Santa has the right idea! If a man is going to fly, let him do it in a helicopter. Just about the time everyone had their fill of candy, a place escort brought Joe the Cook on to the field. After much bantering between Joe and Casey, the kids crowded around as Joe drew the name of a boy and a girl from a big barrel. With a handsome flourish he announced that Larry Iverson, 3438 Lyndale ave. N. and Linda Collier, 2231 4th st. N. were officially designated as West Broadway’s Casey Jones Juniors. These two kids will be given Casey Jones outfits, spend a day with Casey, appear on his television show, and be given pictures of themselves with Casey.