Memories of Casey Jones 2

Tom McNally on Casey:

What a thrill remembering some of those old Casey Jones and Roundhouse spots. Thank you for bringing back so many fond memories. I used to watch him every noon, coming home for lunch from Burroughs grade school in south Minneapolis with a friend (we had egg-salad sandwiches once in a while, and cheese sandwiches — not just peanut butter and jelly). One of my fondest memories back then was when my mother took a bunch of us to his show for my birthday. We got to see the old cardboard train set, watch Roundhouse Rodney do his front hand-springs on stage in front of us, and get the treat bag (or whatever it was called) for being on the show, and of course being featured on camera during the famous Happy, Happy Birthday song. What a thrill!

This was sometime in the early sixties, or maybe late 50’s. Who knows. Who cares. Everything was black and white back then anyway. But I’ll always remember how much fun it was watching him then and even later, when my younger brother was growing up. The stuff they’d get away with on that show!

Several years ago I listened to Roger Awsumb on the WLKS radio at the family cabin, while spinning the old 40’s swing songs, or hosting that godawful Saturday morning auction show. Still what a great voice and wonderful personality. It’s too bad that Axel, Carmen the Nurse, Clancy and Casey and Roundhouse aren’t available for my kids. Let alone coming home for lunch. A simpler time, I guess.

Paul Krebes remembers Casey and others

Wouldn’t miss Lunch With Casey, grew up in a way because of the show. Always wondered if the opening film was shot behind the old Channel 11 studios near Lake Calhoun in the Calhoun Beach Club building (tracks ran right behind there–we lived a mile or two away.) Another song I remember Casey and Roundhouse singing was “Blue Water Line” “Blue water, blue water, blue water line…” with video of a train I always assumed was traveling along the North Shore. Casey and Roundhouse always sang it with the hint of a tear in their eyes, and it was much later I became aware of the “Disappearin’ railroad blues” we have suffered in this nation.

We were at the old Ice Center along Highway 12 (now 394) (now owned by Blake School) and Lynn Dwyer (Roundhouse, of course!) was there in street clothes skating away like the champion he was. My little sister was brave enough to go up to him off the ice and say, “Hi, Roundhouse!” He smiled and quietly said “Hi” back. We respected his privacy the rest of the time there, and I don’t know if anyone else recognized him.

I say the show kind of helped me grow up because at first I thought the cab of the steam locomotive Casey sat in was real. Slowly I came to see it was a painted flat. Occasionally the set would sway in the breeze; eventually I quit looking for my name on the Birthday List because you had to send it in…but by then came to appreciate the corny names that sometimes appeared there, got the “in” joke about Casey “arriving on track eleven,” etc.

So many of your contributors try to remember Roundhouse making his hat. I recall he soaked a man’s felt hat in water, possibly overnight, then shaped it over the end of an upturned football. I was saddened when the news came of his sudden death–the price some athletes pay for their robust health and beefy muscles.

Never would miss Axel if I could help it, either. When I was very young, John Gallos had a show called “Commodore Cappy”, which ostensibly took place in a submerged submarine. Loved that show–was sorry when it went off the air. ….have many good memories of Clancy…the clown called the “Watermelon Man” who would incredibly keep producing such giant frouit and many other smaller objects from his huge black overcoat with a long drawn out ‘Wowwwwwwwwwwwwwww’ and an armless man who could light a cigarette (kid TV in the 60’s! Imagine if the PC people had seen that one!) and flip it into his mouth — correct end out! (To this day, to save my back I attempt to pick things up with my toes on occasion, and when some incredible thing or object comes my way I bug my boys by saying, “Wowwwwwwwwwwww.)

Clancy’s (John Gallo’s) daughter Nancy went to our high school (Minneapolis Washburn) The opening night of the annual talent show, one in which she appeared, — this would have been October 1969– he came backstage where we seven stage crew guys were getting things ready and in a theatrically professional, nice guy way, wished us all a “good show” We all knew who he was, and politely thanked him without saying more…(If I’d been brave enough to ask Nancy for a date, I might have more to contribute here. Oh, well!!!)

Also, Axel would always do a bit called “Birdie with the yellow bill,” only two of which I remember:

“Birdie with the yellow bill, hopped upon my windowsill, cocked a shining eye and said, ‘What did you do to the light–sock it?'”

and “Birdie with the yellow bill, hopped upon my windowsill, cocked a shining eye and said, ‘What’s that in the road–a head?'”

Please send us your memories about the Casey Jones show