My Picture Was on Captain Noah When I Was a Kid

Captain Noah died yesterday at the age of 90. For a kid growing up in Philadelphia, he was a TV star you could almost reach out and touch.

Captain Noah - promotional photo

Captain Noah promotional photo via WPVI

I was in first grade, and I was furious at Captain Noah.

At the end of every Captain Noah episode, the camera scrolled through a series of children’s drawings. When I was very little, about 5 or 6, I sent in a photo of my work to the man legally known as W. Carter Merbreier. His show, Captain Noah and His Magical Ark, was just a weekend program by the time I was a kid. But I felt like a celebrity when my crappy drawing aired on his program.

So I tried again, my second shot at local television glory. And it never aired. I watched Captain Noah for months, waiting to see if they’d show my second photo. I remember being angry at Captain Noah. Why wasn’t I good enough to get two drawings on his show? I’d seen other people’s artwork twice, I swore.

I don’t like this memory, because it makes me sound bratty and I like to think I wasn’t much of a brat. Who cares if you can’t make it onto Captain Noah twice in your childhood? I feel stupid now, but I was kind of hurt.

That’s just how big Captain Noah was. Noah, who once with his wife drank Philadelphia magazine’s Victor Fiorillo under the table, died yesterday at the age of 90. Captain and Mrs. Noah — as they called each other in their personal lives — hosted a children’s television program from 1967 to 1994 in Philadelphia.

By the time I was a kid in the late 80s, it seemed dated. It was slow. It taught children facts and Christian-based life lessons with puppets and Captain Noah’s light humor and direct addresses to the camera. It wasn’t anything like the other shows I liked as a little kid: Muppet Babies, Garfield, Captain N, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or WWE Superstars. It was very much not of the ’80s.

But I didn’t care. The show was fun, and it was local. Captain Noah seemed much more hip than the other options on local TV when I was a kid, Al Alberts, Chief Halftown and Larry Ferrari. Captain Noah was the pinnacle of weekend local children’s entertainment. You had a chance to almost be on the show with your drawings. Captain Noah made me feel like a big deal when he showed my picture on TV. (I also attended a live taping of The Bozo Show around this time too. I coulda been in pictures!)

Captain Noah was a huge part of a many Philadelphians’ childhood entertainment for decades. He was even the godfather of the Phillie Phanatic! Surely Captain and Mrs. Noah had an entertaining conversation with the almighty about the ethics of baptizing the weird man-beast that is the Phillie Phanatic. A tip of the captain’s hat to him.

Follow @dhm on Twitter.