Kareem's Memoir & Bio

1976

Kennedy Manor
I remember living in a townhouse development known as John Fiztgerald Kennedy Manor. Around the community, it was known as "The Manor" or "Kennedy Manor". These homes were generally three story buildings which housed low income people. It was Kennedy Manorhome and we had fond memories of it here as well. We lived on the second story. I recall having water gun fights with the family using these unusually small translucent water pistols which came in virtually every color. I attended day care at the Manor. I recall once when a bullet struck a window at our day care classroom while we were all sitting on the floor. The glass shattered but didn't break out. The teacher told us that it was a BB gun. My brother found a garter snake and introduced it to me and from that point, I was hooked on animals and any other kind of critter.

Late 1976 (School time)
I vaguely remembered entering Kindergarten at Riverside Elementary School in San Pablo, California. I recalled walking down the loooong hallway of that school and saying "...boy, I'm six years old!" I was so proud of my huge milestone accomplishment!

Well, I was a true little sagittarian, curious about everything and wondering why and how things worked. As wonderful as this seemed to me, it also kept me into trouble. Things like peeking under the dress of my day care teacher while she was teaching is just one thing I did as a curious kid. I also enjoyed doodling or sketching. It's what kept me calm and out of everyone's hair. I often found myself drawing pictures of things I saw. My drawings were rich in color and detail. I favored drawing images of the the popular rock group KISS. I loved drawing Gene Simmons with his amazing make-up and costume. My kindergarten teacher, Miss Burch, noticed my talents and later enrolled me in an art program at the Richmond Art Center. Later, I was enrolled in a class for the Gifted and Talented Education, today known as GATE. I worked with a teacher, Miss Lewis, who today teaches at Hanna Ranch Elementary School in Hercules.

Primetime and Cartoons
If you were into TV watching, this would have been the time to watch a lot of it. My little sister Alexis, my older brother George, and I frequently enjoyed episode after episode of TV shows like, the Bionic Man and

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The Bionic Woman, CHiPsGood Times, Land of the Lost, Gong Show, Shazam, and my favorite show CHiPs.

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My brother was most fortunate. Being a older than I was, he was allowed to stay up later than me and watch the late TV shows like Creature Features, which was hosted by Bob Wilkins.

Bob Wilkins also secretly became the host of a kids' show called Captain Cosmic & 2T2. Captain Cosmic was one of the last (and sort of nostalgic at the time it was on too) hosted shows for children. The show was on every weekday at 4pm on KTVU Oakland (Channel 2) and would introduce various science fiction related television shows like Star Trek (the animated series), Spectraman, Ultraman and many others. Along with his robotic host, Wonder RCaptain Cosmicobot 2T2, Captain Cosmic kept people up to date with interviews of science fiction enthusiasts. He would also announce conventions and other special events. There was even a Captain Cosmic club to join. All you had to do was send a self addressed stamped envelope and you would get a numbered membership card back. On the back of the card was the Captain Cosmic Secret Crypto Code.

Every Friday Captain Cosmic, who wore these awful red-glittered tights, would read a secret message that the viewers at home could decode. Usually the messages were long but conveyed a simple statement like "Have a great weekend", or "Have a happy Thanksgiving". The opening segment (which I must have viewed well over 600 times) always stuck in my head. It sort of had a Superman like feel to it. It had some narration by KTVU's announcer voice saying how powerful the captain was.. "Faster than a speeding BART train," while a video clip showed the Captain running along side of a BART train as it departed from the station, "stronger than the entire Oakland Raider Football team!" showing a picture of the Captain lifting a obviously chroma keyed Volkswagen over his head, and "able to leap over tall buildings with a single bound", showing a picture of a chroma keyed Captain flying a little too close to the top of the Transamerica pyramid building and a sound effect of ripping pants. Here's the memorable audio of the Captain Cosmic Opening Theme.

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News Events, Fads, Toys...
Well, yes many things happened during this year... CB radio was popular. "Breaker-breaker 1-9 This is hot stuff...." Apple Computers were invented, although we didn't have one. The Alaskan Pipeline was completed. Mutual Omaha's Wild Kingdom,

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was another favorite TV show and was hosted by Marlin Perkins and we bought our first Rubics Cube!

Did you have a metal lunch pail and a matching thermos. I had the Spiderman set. The thermos was always leaking inside the lunch pail leaving you with a soggy sandwich for lunch. My sister and I had to be reminded to clean our lunch pails everyday or else the metal pails would rust from the previous spills of Koolaid or milk.

 

I also had my very own Stretch Monster which was introduced by the toy manufacturer Kenner. It came out right after Stretch Armstrong. It was a rubber doll which could be stetched to crazy lengths due to its beingStretch Monster toy filled with a thick purple gel. I know this becauseI eventually tore mine open to see what was making it become so stretchy. The gooey stuff adhered to everything. It became a mess. But I really enjoyed my Stretch Monster and it accompanied me everywhere.

Being a bug lover, and thanks to Mattel®, I discovered another cool toy Creepy Crawlers Box called Creepy Crawlers. It was basically a box set of plastic molds of insect shapes and the magic formula "goop" to use in those molds. You could create your own creature. And since each plastic container contained a different color of formula, you could mix the colors creating cross hybrids of rubberized creepy crawlies. You could trade the creepies with friends and play with them. They were so cool.

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