Phil Luciano: One more cruise for Salty Sam

Phil Luciano

It's time for one more performance by Captain Jinks and Salty Sam.

After all, you demanded an encore.

Readers have been pounding me with e-mails and calls since last week's columns on Salty Sam. The real-life George Baseleon lies in an unmarked plot at Springdale Cemetery, a fact only recently discovered by his kin and graveyard personnel.

The family can't afford a tombstone. So readers have been clamoring to help out, pledging to send anywhere from $10 to hundreds of dollars.

I loved this one, from a reader named J.J.: "Count me in on Salty's stone. I am currently unemployed, but I can give $25. His service, his joy in his work and his life deserve much more."

For many Peorians, the "Captain Jinks Show" wasn't just another kiddie program.

"This is an iconic show for people who grew up at that time," says Mark DeSantis, general manager at WEEK-TV, where the show made its home. "It defines their childhood."

DeSantis has taken a little flack from people wondering why the station hadn't stepped up to take care of Salty Sam's grave. But like the rest of us, DeSantis had no idea about the first mate's final resting place.

DeSantis was one of the first readers to call in last week with a contribution. WEEK is putting in $350 to cover the estimated cost of a tombstone.

But here's where things get better. Callers keep topping one another and adding into the mix.

For instance, Knapp-Johnson Funeral Home in Morton is donating a headstone. Abel Monument in Pekin is donating the foundation.

So where does that leave us with the WEEK gift? It gives us the idea to do more and have a party.

WEEK and the Journal Star will be promoting a fundraiser helmed by "The Markley & Luciano Show." We'll be doing our typical program, 3 to 6 p.m., next Thursday at Kelleher's Irish Pub, 619 SW Water St.

The event might include an appearance by WEEK kingpin Tom McIntyre, who used to hang out with the seafaring cartoon hosts. McIntyre says he used to marvel at the way the two would needle each other mercilessly, on and off camera.

"The total intent of the show was to amuse themselves," McIntyre says.

Word on the street has it that Mac and Mike Dimmick might host the 6 p.m. newscast live from the event - dressed as Captain Jinks and Salty Sam. However, that rumor might not be true, because I just made it up. But you never know.

Meanwhile, for the event, WEEK will haul out some "Captain Jinks Show" memorabilia, including photos and even parts of the S.S. Albatross. The public is invited to bring their souvenirs of the show and promotions. Pub owner Pat Sullivan says he will award door prizes to visitors who bring the most interesting items.

But the most important thing to bring are your memories to share. And don't forget your checkbook. The Salty Sam Fund will earmark up to $1,000 toward the grave marker, which we'd like to include images of both Salty Sam and Captain Jinks (the latter of whose ashes were scattered over Peoria via plane).

Any money over $1,000 would be donated to the St. Jude Midwest Affiliate. After all, it was a kids' show, so why not help children?

If you can't come, you still can help. The Community Foundation of Central Illinois, which maintains charitable donations, will manage the money. Send contributions to the Salty Sam Fund, 331 Fulton St., Suite 310, Peoria, IL 61602.

As for the rest of ya: See ya Thursday, mateys.

Phil Luciano can be reached or (309) 686-3155.