It was one of the most popular locally produced children’s programs in NPT’s 50-year history, hosted by arguably everyone’s favorite host. On Mrs. Cabobble’s Caboose, Fran Powell (Mrs. Cabobble) and her cast of characters taught basic music concepts such as melody, rhythm, harmony, and families of instruments through active participation in a variety of musical experiences. The programs invited children to sing individually and in groups, to move rhythmically, and to play classroom rhythm instruments. Although only 28 episodes of the show were created in 1986, it continued to run on some PBS stations into the early 2000s. It struck a chord with young viewers then, and remains etched in their adult minds now. Over the years, we’ve gotten multiple requests to rebroadcast the show or make it available on DVD. Now, on the occasion of our 50th Anniversary, we’re happy to present Mrs. Cabobble’s Caboose: The Fran Powell Collection.
To put the collection together, we asked Powell to help us select episodes that she thought best represented what made the show so popular. Her response is a great example of what made her and the show so special.
“I can’t just recall the “favorite” shows,” she wrote us in an email from her new home in Florida, “but since the set design for Mrs. Cabobble’s Caboose is what gave Wayne White his career ‘jump start’ with Pee Wee Herman’s show, I think it would be good to pick shows that really focused on the use of the set ‘characters’ that ‘came to life’ and sang and participated in the show as the classroom children would do.
“Those wonderful set piece characters: Monica Moose, Hambone the Dog, Grumpy Old Pot Bellied Stove, The Treasure Chest … and of course Professor Picken’s and his Musical Chickens!… all had wonderful personas, and were all favorites with the kids in the classrooms!”
Mrs. Cabobble’s Caboose: The Fran Powell Collection includes seven episodes of the iconic show, as well as a few bonus clips. Episodes include:
- Making New Friends: A musical way to meet and greet new friends. Songs: “Mrs. Cabobble’s Caboose,” “How Do You Do?,” “Mister Banjo.”
- Rhythm and Rhymes: Gives students a chance to participate in singing rhymes and chants, clapping and hand-jive activities, and total-body movement.
- Keep It Movin’: Presents movement activities to enhance motor skills and rhythmic response. Songs: “Keep It Movin’,” “Brother Come and Dance.”
- Make A Wish: Presents the sound of harmony created by movement with the melodic contour in intervals of a third and invites students to participate in creative dramatizations of the songs. Songs: “Make a Wish,” “Ki-Yi-Yippee-Yippee-Yea.”
- Round and Round: Demonstrates independent singing skills and the combination of multiple sounds. Songs: “Are You Sleeping?,” “Little Tommy Tinker,” “Three Blind Mice.”
- Spook In The Pumpkin Patch: Presents two Halloween songs that demonstrate the difference between major and minor modes. Songs: “Pumpkin Patch,” “Spook.”
- Hoppin’ Down The Bunny Trail: Presents songs that call for rhythmic response, creative expression, and dramatization. Songs: “Hoppin’ Down the Bunny Trail,” “(But) That Pesky Rabbit Got Away!”
- Kids Say The Darndest Things
- Music is Timeless
- Jellybeans in Color
Mrs. Cabobble’s Caboose: The Fran Powell Collection is available on the Nashville Public Television support page as a thank you gift for a donation of $20. Supporters can also receive an NPT 50th Anniversary Mug or black Chico bag for a $50 donation or get all three for $75.
At just $20, Mrs. Cabobble’s Caboose: The Fran Powell Collection is sure to bring back great memories, and introduce your children to new ones. For fans of Wayne White, or White completists, it’s a great document of some of his earliest work and inspirations.