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johnny dollar's vault

retro pop culture and various local observations and ramblings.

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Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
johnny dollar's vault resides in the basement of stately dollar maisonTM, amongst the wine cellar, tiki bar, and finicky electrical panel. from time to time i will unearth various artifacts from either there or from the random crevices of my mind.

please visit the new and improved pig cookin' post!

NOTE: this blog will NOT deal with any recent pop culture (i.e. since about 1990) or topical issues, so if you're looking for discussion about britney baracko jacko flacco, look elsewhere, lol

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

a tale of two captains: chesapeake and 20

i grew up in the dc area, and my cultural knowledge of baltimore was fairly dim until later on. I do recall, though, that occasionally, when the atmosphere was just so, we could pick up channel 13 or maybe 45. it was like something beamed from the moon, fairly static-y and grainy on our old black and white tv. so imagine my surprise, when i realized that balmer had their very own local captain. dig if u will the similarities:

captain chesapeake: on channel 45 in baltimore (wbff)
captain played by george lewis, from1971 to 1990

the show began with the ditty:
"a shipwrecked sailor found himself in a plight.
lost at sea he was really a sight.
he swam and swam 'til he thought he'd die,
when a wonderous sight appeared to his eye.
a derelict boat that saved his life
and put an end ot his watery strife."

adjunct puppet pals included:
mondy (pronounced moan-dee) the sea monster
bruce the bird
andrew claws the lion
little mo'

kids could get "crew members" membership cards. by 1973, he had registered his 50,000th card-carrying crew member.

shows played included (this is not a list from personal experience, mind you:
rare instances of johnny sokko
speed racer
marine boy

us weird old geezing nostalgia freaks have the following resources:


captain 20: on channel 20 in washington dc (wdca)
captain played by dick dyszel, from 1972 to 1987

puppet pals included:

milton m. milton
chef combo
howard huge
fruitsy tootsie (“eat fruit for a snack”)

from 1975 to 1978 kids could get "channel 20 club cards,” of which 250,000 cards were handed out

shows played included (from personal tv-braindamaged memory):

kimba the white lion
marine boy
johnny sokko
speed racer
little rascals
ultra man

tha best


view it here! you'll be glad you did (it's in realplayer, [buffering], sorry)

again, weird old geezing nostalgia freak resources:


conclusions? i think i grew up in a kind of parallel universe to many of you local yokels. we all had our captain. screw the media conglomerates that set them adrift >:(


Blogger operator number nine said...

oh my god, captain 20! he went to my church when i was a kid and i always was completely dumbfoundedly star struck around him. i remember making chef combo recipes involving peanut butter and celery. not too complicated. he always instructed us to use plastic knives. you just hit my way back machine HARD. :) -mary alice

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnny$!!! Captain Chesapeake was totally the kewlest!!! I watched him everyday at 4:00. I, too had that space age connection with yer guy Captain 20. My parent's old black and white would occasionally manage to get in DC stations if the rabbit ears and aluminum foil were arranged jusssst rite! Thanks for the walk down memory lane :-))) *meow!!!*

5:34 PM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

glad you enjoyed, mary alice and kitty.

remember when you could get the 3-d glasses at 7-11 for the channel 20 broadcast of "creature from the black lagoon?" they were sold out when we went... >:(

6:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved Capt. Chesapeake, but Mondy was my favorite. I never understood why he was never wet though. Wasn't he a sea monster?

Thanks for a trip on the wayback machine. Great entry!

11:17 PM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

thanks anghang, it was fun doing the capt. chesapeake research ~ maybe someday some footage of him will show up.

6:24 AM  
Blogger Mr. Mephistopheles said...


When I was about five or six, my oldest brother drove me to every 7-11 between Bowie and Seabrook looking for a pair of the 3-D glasses for "Creature From The Black Lagoon". We must have stopped at about six or seven stores before giving up. I cried until my neighbor came over with an extra pair- just in time for the show. HOORAY!

Bloggers who aren't familiar with Baltimore children's TV have always asked me about my screen name. Thanks to you, I shouldn't have to answer that question as much.

Did you ever notice that Mondy sounded like he was from Dundalk?

2:29 PM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

ha! mondy i knew other kids had to have the same stressful experience.

sadly i never got to see capt. chesapeake... :C but feel free to ref people over to this post for background info...

2:52 PM  
Blogger tfg said...

I work with a guy who dresses up like Capt. Chesapeake. No fooling.

9:35 PM  
Blogger operator number nine said...

i didn't get to see the rollergirls, as i was confused and thought the bout was on saturday but it was on sunday and i had double booked myself. drat. definitely going to the next one. let me know if you are too! -m.a.

8:41 AM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

tfg: cool, and you haven't taken a picture yet to post it? down let me down bubbie...

malice: will keep the next bout posted info... although i think putty hill skateland is now sold. r.i.p.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm always interested to read about local kids show and horror-film hosts.

I grew up mainly in L.A., which had a huge number of these shows. Tisha Parti's site, Local Legends does a wonderful job of documenting them.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Malnurtured Snay said...

Captain 20? What was the concept behind the character, Spock on weed?

Here's an interesting fact: I don't remember Captain 20 at all, and I grew up right outside of DC in Adelphi. Chesapeake came in just fine.

12:24 AM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

thx mr balihi, & snay, yes, that is odd ~ that you couldn't get channel 20 from adelphi that is. the spock thing was pretty toned down by the 80s, but i do have memories of him wearing purple eyeshadow early on.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Malnurtured Snay said...

No ... I got Channel 20. I just don't remember Captain 20. I remember Capt. Cheapeake.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

i am looking for about 15 to 20 sec of the start of the Captin Chespeak tv show and the last 10 to 15 sec of the closing of the show when he says so long crew mwmbers.
i grew up on this show along with wounderramma
can some one please help me?
steve penrod

8:33 AM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

hi steve,

you might find what you're looking for at

(referenced at http://jjohnnydollar.blogspot.com/2006/10/holy-crap-more-captain-chesapeake.html)

i never saw captain chesapeake growing up but i did wonderama. i looked on youtube and there is no footage of bob mcallister hosting the show, but there is some abba footage (!) from wonderama.

let me know if you dig anything else up on wonderama, that was a freaky show!

thx, j$

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnny, I was a die hard fan of Captain Chesapeake. I still have my old crewmember card and an autographed photo. I spent quite a few years watching his show and playing Star Wars or GI Joe on the living room carpet.

I've seen the "moment with Captain Chesapeake" video but I want more! Someone has to have some old footage of the Captain somewhere.

It's great to know others miss him as well.

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm one of the lucky few who remembers BOTH Captains well! I'm a Baltimoron, but we got a passable signal for Channel 20...I fiddled around with the UHF aerial until the reception was about as good as it could get.

I remember the Ghost Host on 45 and the Creature Feature on 20, too, with Dick Dyszel (Captain 20 himself!) moonlighting as Count Gore De Vol.

I also fondly recall the 3-D movies on Channel 20. Our reception wasn't clear enough for the glasses to be very effective, but those 3-D TV events got a surprising amount of advertising even this far north. And although it wasn't in 3-D, my brother and I watched "Squirm" on Channel 20 just about every time it aired, which seemed to be a lot.

On the B'more tip, I have a signed letter from Captain Chesapeake (on official WBFF stationery!) around here someplace. Ahoy, crewmembers! It's eight bells...that means it's time for Scoooooooooooo-by Doooooooo!

And though he came on the tail end of the local kids' show host train, I can't forget to mention Commander Stu Kerr (of TV 54), who also had plenty of previous incarnations on other stations' kids' shows (most notably Professor Kool, who I got to see live once for a birthday party I went to when I was 6).

Ah, the good old days when there was still such a thing as recognizable local programming...

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One last thing...I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I once encountered a gaboon viper. It bit me...right on the ol' gaboon.

Thanks, Howard Huge.

11:26 PM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...


8:46 AM  
Anonymous tracy said...

To Johnny who said Mondy sounded like he was from Dundalk, have you ever noticed morning traffic Jimmy sounds awfully similair. Think about it...

9:31 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Remember miss Sally on romper room? Mr. Greenjeans and professor kool?

8:31 PM  

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