What a Mouse and a Kangaroo Taught Me About Life

My Real Memoir

Apart from Mommandad and a few unusual friends, my first introduction to Life with a capital L came from a tiny black-and-white screen. And by “Life,” I mean storytelling, which virtually defines me today; some subtly-inserted values, which I’ll also cop to regularly doing; and humor, which runs a close second to storytelling in my universe.

When I was around age six, two classic kid’s shows, The Mickey Mouse Club and Captain Kangaroo, made my world a little bigger.

And funnier.

“Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me? M-I-C-K-E-Y  M-O-U-S-E. Mickey Mouse!” (Donald: “Donald Duck!”) From Mickey I learned kindness and humility (alright, I’m still working on those). And from Donald I got my first taste of funny. I’d shout, “Donald Duck!” in my best duck-voice, and bust myself up. It was a while before I learned to bust anyone else up.

The Mouseketeers taught me:

  • Romance – My first crush, along with every other kid in America, was an Italian-American girl named Annette Funicello, who, by the 60s, would look even hotter (but still virtuous) on a surfboard. I also had kind of a thing for Betty Boop.
  • How to Entertain – The Mouseketeers had talent! Host Jimmy introduced me to the guitar, which would later become my instrument, and the Mouseketeers taught me to sing and dance! Years later, I would do my first post-high school musical under the direction of one of the original Mouseketeers, Dennis Day.

Captain Kangaroo, a lovable guy with a Beatles haircut long before the Fab Four, taught me to accept everyone for who they were. I mean, the guy’s best friends were a Dancing Bear and a yokel named Mr. Greenjeans. But most of all, he taught me to be wonderfully, gloriously…


My first effort at public silliness was problematic, however. I’d decided nonsense words were the funniest thing ever. So, on one of my earliest visits to a screen much, much larger than our TV (and in color!), I delivered my first official punchline!

The old Paramount Theater in Los Angeles was spectacular. Along with its classic movie palace architecture, it was landmarked by a giant neon “P.” Which stood for Paramount, of course, but I didn’t care about that. All I knew was that, amid a thick crowd of people, I’d just thought of a funny-sounding word. “What’s that stand for,” I shouted, so everyone could enjoy the quip, “Penis?”

After dragging me away, Mommandad quietly explained that the word I’d just “made-up” actually meant (quick glance downward), that.

“Oh!” I said. But honestly? I thought it was even funnier after that. So I giggled all they way through the movie. I still had a lot to learn…

About some of life’s finer points.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to What a Mouse and a Kangaroo Taught Me About Life

  1. Pingback: What a Mouse, a Duck, and a Kangaroo Taught Me About Life – Culgrin d mayor

  2. anitashope says:

    Such a fun reminder of fabulous TV. When life seemed and was much kinder.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mitch
    When I was eight, Annette at 12 was my first crush as well!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. M.B. Henry says:

    Betty Boop! Can’t blame you there! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. For girls of a certain age, the crushes were Spin and Marty!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s. I don’t remember watching “The Mickey Mouse Club” much on TV, but I did have a record of “The Mickey Mouse Club,” the original cast with Annette Funicello.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I watched “Howdy Doody” as a kid. It’s “Howdy Doody” time. All funny shows to watch now, but we loved them as kids!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I just finished watching the “Annette” series two weeks ago on YouTube and loved it. What stands out to me about shows in the past, was that it always focused on teaching a life lesson. Loved this post!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Some funny stuff there. One of my grandsons went through a phase a few years ago when he would make up silly words. His parents would have to stop him because some of the words he thought he was making up were real words, and he would get in big trouble if he said them in school.
    On a different note, the actor who played Captain Kangaroo was from my current hometown, Lynbrook, NY. They should pay him more homage than they do. Maybe they should require the mayor to get a haircut like his.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I LOVED Captain Kangaroo!!! Was it the rabbit who tortured the moose with the unexpected release of ping pong balls?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am the proud owner of a Mickey Mouse Fan club pin Identical to Image you posted.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pam Webb says:

    What? No Soupy Sales!?!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Russell Brown says:

    I love it! Those were some of my early mentors also. In fact, if you are lucky enough to see photos of the woman I am married to now, you will notice an uncanny resemblance to Annette Funicello. My dream has come true!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. kathy says:

    I loved those shows, too! Thanks for the memories! M I C KEY, MOUSEEE!!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Don’t forget Spin & Marty and Grandfather Clock! 😄😊

    Liked by 1 person

  16. lilyofthevalley777 says:

    I remember in elementary school, when the teacher stepped out of the classroom for a few minutes, we would try looking up naughty words in the dictionary….on the heartthrob note, all the handsome cowboys on the various western programs in the 60’s were my make believe boyfriends. I had a crush on each one, dating all the way back to Rawhide. + Kurt Russell. Ye haw!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. lilyofthevalley777 says:

    Did you know that Dennis Day lived here in my town in Southern Oregon in the 1980’s? He became a theatre directer, most likely at the Shakespeare theater in Ashland. However he passed away in 2017, July. 😔

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Eva Hnizdo says:

    That sounds such fun. I grew up in a communist country. All children programs were rather seriously educational ( and full of propaganda). So I learnt about these things from other people, not TV. When we emigrated with my young sons, I loved Sesame street. Fun, kind and educational. My sons got lucky by our emigration.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. K.L. Hale says:

    Crack me up, Mitch! My twin (poor Momma) and I grew up in the 70’s. I watched Captain Kangaroo and because of Dad, every western I could (and still to this day). My friends find me a lost hope that I watch Little House and The Walton’s. And then I’ll quip to my Dad, “Hey Dad, I think this episode of The Rifleman is a new one!”. Dad, at almost 80, says, “if only….”. I live in a world that was made for me as a young child. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I try and live in the present and soak in all the “luxuries” of today. But alas, I feel I lived in a time far away from today. My Momma says us twins had a lot of made-up words; our own language. And we had some doozers! Thank you for the laughs today-much needed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      My pleasure, Karla. Good to learn a little more about your past. Our two daughters also had (and still do) a “language” of their own. Ah, creative people.

      Liked by 1 person

      • K.L. Hale says:

        Creative….I like that. It sounds more positive than ornery. But we remain unapologetically silly at times. And our dark humor so perfectly presents itself at the most inappropriate times. We have to laugh right, Mitch? 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Jennie says:

    This was a walk down memory lane. Yes, all the good I learned came from those shows, too. Super post! BTW, I’ve scheduled a reblog of my guest post for tomorrow. Many thanks!!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. What a trip down memory lane! Thank you for this delightful share!

    Liked by 1 person

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