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Bob Lind, Published January 05 2014

Neighbors: 'Captain Jim' announced 1950-60's children's show

Koly Speer, Ulen, Minn., had a question in December for Neighbors’ readers: What was the children’s show on a local TV station weekdays in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and who was the station’s announcer who was featured?

Tim Pederson, now of Fargo but who grew up in Arthur, N.D., promptly wrote that, “It might have been ‘Captain Jim,’ with Jim Rohn, on KXJB.”

Well, it not only might have been Jim Rohn, it was. That was made clear by many others who wrote in.

Among them:

Ann Romsdahl, now of Brandon, S.D., who grew up in Alice, N.D., and attended high school in Enderlin, N.D.: “The only local show I can remember from that time frame was the ‘Captain Jim’ show, and it was Jim Rohn, I think, who hosted it.”

Gale Bergee, Ada, Minn., who then lived in Halstad, Minn.: “ ‘Captain Jim’ on KXJB; Jim Rohn was the host. He was the weatherman. The name of his ship was the ‘Sink Knot.’ I was a guest on the show along with my fellow Cub Scout den mates in the early ’60s. It was a blast!”

Clarice Kadry, West Fargo: “Jim Rohn, captain of the Sink Knot, was someone I watched after school in the ’50s.”

Larry Nordick, Lynchburg, Va., formerly of Moorhead but who lived on a farm near Foxhome, Minn., when he watched “Captain Jim”: “He showed cartoons as part of the show. He wore a yacht captain’s cap. Very cool guy. Calm demeanor. Great voice. Fun show.”

Denise Heiser, West Fargo: “Kids with birthdays could come to the show with their guests. The birthday kids would each go in turn to be interviewed by Captain Jim on board the SS Sink Knot, which was a plywood cut-out of a tug boat bridge. At the end of each interview, the child would ring the ship’s bell however number of times his/her age was and then be presented with a few gifts from area businesses. Capt. Jim would also interview other kids in the audience.

“I went twice, once as the birthday kid, and another as a guest of a birthday kid. One of the prizes often given out were admission tickets to Bud’s Roller Rink.

“There would also be guest presenters. A frequent one was the person who ran the pet store in north Moorhead who would bring different animals to talk about.

“The show took place at the Channel 4 studios in the rounded-roof Quonset-type building at 1805 Main Ave., West Fargo, now the Jemco building.”

Scott Schrader, Woodbury, Minn: “The set was one of those cardboard ship thingies. The cartoons were basically Popeye. Rohn later went on to manage the Alexandria (Minn.) TV station, and is a member of the Minnesota Broadcasters Hall of Fame, maintained by the Pavek Museum in the Twin Cities.”

Steve Doyle, Hastings, Minn., formerly of Fargo: “It was common to be in the audience for a friend’s birthday party. Cartoons were one of the show’s big attractions for after-school viewing. Thanks for sparking a happy childhood memory.”

Jim Peterson, Oak Park, Ill.: “I remember going down to the studio on my birthday, when I was 5 or 6. Jim Rohn was a neighbor of ours on 24th Avenue North in Fargo.”

Larry Cunningham, Fargo: “Jim Rohn played two characters on the show, a space pilot and a sea captain, both name Captain Jim. I appeared on his show as a kid.”

Earl Williams, Fargo, retired from WDAY: “The 1950s kids show was called ‘Captain Jim,’ hosted by Jim Rohn on Channel 4 at 4 p.m. Jim was also the TV weatherman for many years.”

Craig Flaagan, physical education department chairman at Carl Ben Eielson School, Fargo: “I remember going to the show and ringing the bell on my birthday.”

Pat Connor, West Fargo: “Captain Jim (also) would read letters from viewers. Some of the letters to Captain Jim would tell a viewer to look somewhere at home for a birthday present.”

Kevin Korsmo, Spokane, Wash., writes, “In October 1962, when we were living in Forman (N.D.), I remember going to Fargo for the 6th birthday of Steve Kenward (then of Forman and later of Fargo) and all of us kids were to appear on Captain Jim’s show. But alas, we were pre-empted by President Kennedy addressing the country; I imagine it was the Cuban missile crisis that took center stage that day.”

But “Captain Jim” had more than kids as fans. At least one adult was, for good reason.

She is the former Sharon Sullivan, Moorhead, who worked at Minnesota State University Moorhead for many years and was its director of academic support programs when she retired in 2000.

She was never on the show. But she had a classmate at the Interstate Business College, Fargo, who was working part time at KXJB and who gave Sharon and another friend a tour of the station one day while the “Captain Jim” show was on.

During a break in the show, Sharon’s classmate introduced her to Mike Ferris, who was running camera during the show and who eventually would be the station’s production manager until he retired in 2000.

And you can cue in the romantic music, even if it’s not for kids, Captain Jim. Because Sharon and Mike went on to become wife and husband.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com