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Children's Show Hosts

Casey Jones - The showbiz nickname of Roger Awsumb, a Minnesota-based children's show host who starred on "Lunch with Casey" from 1953 through 1973 on Channel 11, then called WTCN.

Robert Awsumb as CASEY JONES

Wearing striped overalls and railway cap, Casey entertained children with cartoons, animals, and a special "Happy Birthday" song (he routinely read the names of birthday girls and boys on-the-air). Also appearing was Lynn Dwyer who played Casey's sidekick, Roundhouse Rodney.

Happy, happy birthday, to every girl and boy,
Hope this very special day brings you lots of joy.
Hope the birthday presents you get from mom and dad,
Will make this very special day the best you ever had.
-- Lyrics to Casey Jones' Special Birthday Song

Each program Casey tooted his train whistle on his makeshift cardboard locomotive, and loudly proclaimed "Hi gang, its your old buddy Casey Jones."

From time to time, Casey invited special guests like dentists, mechanics and even beekeepers to explain their occupations and educate the kids with new ideas.

Over time, Casey added a morning show "Wake Up with Casey and Roundhouse" and an afternoon show, "Casey and Roundhouse at Grandma Lumpit's Boardinghouse."

Roger Awsumb as Casey Jones

When low ratings eventually forced the program off the air 1972, Ansumb had logged more that 8000 shows and by his estimate had eaten some 16,000 peanut butter sandwiches during his Lunchtime interludes with the kids in the Twin Cities viewing area.

Although off the air, Awsumb's popularity was still high and he continued to make personal appearances and commercials as Casey. In 1982, he had a brief revival with "Breakfast With Casey" that aired on Channel 29 until 1985.

Before his death at the age of 74 from a heart attack on Monday July 15, 2002, Awsumb had enjoyed a second career at KLKS Radio in Breezy Point, Minn., where he talked sports, weather and cafe specials and played easy-listening music for retirees. He died at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd, Minnesota. His former sidekick, Lynn Dwyer died in 1976.

A native of St. Paul, Awsumb had studied speech and radio at Macalester College. His funeral services were held at his alma mater's Weyerhauser Memorial Chapel. Some 250 people were on hand to pay their final respects to the favorite railroad engineer. See also "The Cannonball Express"

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