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