The Ohioana Book Festival, Coming Soon

Those who like books — and who could be more erudite than the hardy handful of readers of the Webner House blog? — have a treat in store.  The 2011 Ohioana Book Festival is coming to the Fort Hayes campus in Columbus on Saturday, May 7, 2011.  It’s going to be another great program — and it’s free.  What could be better?

If you’ve never been to an Ohioana Book Festival, don’t admit it to me because I’ll just lose respect for you.  Anyway, if you fall into that unfortunate category you’ve really missed some interesting stuff.  At the Book Festival, you get to meet Ohio authors, listen to them give readings or address topics of interest, and ask them questions.  I’ve enjoyed the individual presentations by certain authors, where they talk about what inspired them or how they came up with their ideas.  I’ve been fascinated when writers who pursue different disciplines get together and bring their different perspectives to bear on a particular topic.  And I’ve relished meeting the many enthusiastic bibliophiles who call Ohio home and who proudly claim reading as their passion.

One of the best things about the Ohioana Book Festival is the variety.  This year, in the roster of featured authors alone, we’ve got mystery writers, a poet, a comic book artist, a crime fiction writer, a writer and an illustrator of children’s literature, and the author of a book called Cakes To Die For.   What more do you need to know?

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Captain Penny And Barnaby

For a little boy growing up in the Cleveland, Ohio television market during the early 1960s, there were two must-see TV shows:  Captain Penny and Barnaby.  Oh sure, there was Romper Room with Miss Barbara, but no self-respecting kid over the age of 3 who had figured out how to change the channel on the TV would watch it — although to this day I can still remember “Bend and stretch, reach for the stars . . . .  There goes Jupiter, here comes Mars . . . . ” But I digress.

Both Captain Penny and Barnaby were characters who read viewer mail, showed cartoons, and had their own catch phrases.  Captain Penny was a railroad engineer.  I’m not sure why he was called Captain — the title was as mysterious as that of the land-bound Captain von Trapp from The Sound of Music.  He showed the Little Rascals and the Three Stooges, told you about dogs that could be adopted from the kennel in a segment called Pooch Parade, and encouraged you to eat your vegetables.  At the end of every show, he told the impressionable rug rats who were watching to always remember:  “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool Mom.”  The Mothers’ Lobby no doubt appreciated Captain Penny’s ringing endorsement — and also appreciated that Captain Penny was a very effective babysitter.

Barnaby was harder to figure out.  He lived in the Enchanted Forest, and the show’s theme music was dreamy-sounding flute music.  Barnaby apparently was an elf, because he had pointed, Spock-like ears.  But he was fully grown and dressed like a character from The Great Gatsby.  This nattily attired sprite typically wore a blue double-breasted blazer, a kind of ascot, and a straw boater, as if the elves in the Enchanted Forest had emigrated from Newport, Rhode Island and still preferred their yachting wear.  Barnaby’s friend, Woodrow the Woodsman, was a somewhat dim-witted rustic who wore a leather jerkin.  Barnaby obviously was a gentle soul.  He called you “neighbor” and told you what a special person who were.  He also showed lots of Popeye cartoons, so after you would watch Popeye beat the snot out of Bluto and yoke him to a gigantic spinach-planting machine you’d get Barnaby’s sensitive act.  The message of the Barnaby show therefore was a bit mixed.

Is there even local TV programming for kids anymore?  If, as I suspect, there isn’t, that’s really a shame.  UJ, Cath and I loved to watch these shows.