by David Galassie
On a Sunday morning in the early 1960's, Dad brings in the newspaper from the front stoop and returns to his favorite easy chair.
Seeing a pensive little face across the room, he pulls the paper from his lap and begins to thumb through the sections.
"Do you want the comics?''
The young boy leaps out of his seat, leaving the reverie of his morning cartoon show on the old black and white Zenith.
"Popeye can wait, huh?!"
Grabbing the four-color supplement from his father's outstretched hand, he hurriedly moves back to his seat, but then thinking better of it, finds a sunlit corner on the living room floor.
He sits down cross-legged and quickly turns the pages. Where is it? There, in the middle of page four, with Nancy and Sluggo above and Marmaduke below is Cappy Dick and his call to order: "Hey Kids! Try for these wonderful prizes!"
Cappy Dick was created in the late 1930's by Robert Cleveland, editor of Chicago's Southtown Economist newspaper. Cappy was an old seaman, depicted with a yachting cap, flowing white moustache, and pipe.
The fiction was that Cappy, on his long sea voyages, created and devised all sorts of fun activities to pass the time, and now, with the help of the Chicago Sun-Times syndicate, he could now share them with America's children through the affiliated newspapers.
This crafts and games feature for children thrived in the World War II years, so much so that it spawned three successful compilations- The Cappy Dick Fun for Boys and Girls Book, The Stay-at-Home Book for Boys and Girls, and Cappy Dick's Pastime Book for Boys and Girls.
For over forty years, Cappy appeared in the nation's daily comics pages as "Young Hobby Club" by Cappy Dick.
Perhaps tucked on one side of the page under the crossword puzzle, or located in some other entertainment section, each day the Young Hobby Club provided an activity for the younger set- maybe a game Cappy invented, complete with rules and directions on how to create a game board and tokens, or a craft activity- decorating a jar with colorful stones or marbles, or creating a charm out of acorns from the yard perhaps.
Sundays were a much different story. Appearing in the color comics supplement and depending upon the newspaper's space, Cappy's feature contained three to five different activities- a "You and Your Pets" tip sometimes and a number of craft ideas, drawn in a one-panel cartoon format.
More importantly, though, was his contest! Next to the jolly Cappy and his logo was the featured prize for that week and immediately below, a contest picture or puzzle to complete.
The premise was simple- solve the puzzle or color the picture, mail it to the newspaper by midnight Tuesday and by the end of the week, the paper would publish the ten names of the local winners.
The weekly prizes were small- a zippered pencil case, a magic trick, or even a packet of collectible stamps or coins, but the local winners were then "automatically entered" in a drawing for a "national" prize! Typically this was a World Book encyclopedia but occasionally he offered a large toy like a slot-racing car set.
What kid would pass up his chance to win one of those? Thousands of children across the country religiously sent in their entries to Cappy Dick each week, yours truly included.
And while I was never lucky enough to win, I always had high hopes each Sunday morning.
As for the activities, many a rainy day was spent learning new ways to have fun by trying Cappy's arts and crafts ideas. Mom sure liked that!
The young boy suddenly gets up and turns off the TV. He races up the stairs and returns with a 24-count box of Crayolas. Holding up the comic pages, he stands in front of his father.
"So, Dad...are you done with these? I've got some coloring to do."
About the author: David Galassie is a human resources specialist in Columbia, SC. When not writing in his free time, he pursues genealogy, Wisconsin history, and comic book collecting. A frequent contributor to Rewind the Fifties, he has been published online in The Comic Book Electronic Magazine, Long Story Short, and in print in Good Old Days Specials magazine.
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