It's funny how things pop into your head for no apparent reason. I was walking through the house this morning when I suddenly remembered how, as a child, I used to listen to the Argonauts Club six days a week at 5:00 PM along with thousands of other children. In the days before television the wireless served as the main source of outside entertainment in the home. Between music, news and informative programmes there were serials mostly for women in the mornings and for children after school morphing into family shows in the early evening with more adult drama in the later time slots. I still remember with a shiver listening to a play about swamp creatures surrounding a decaying mansion somewhere and killing off the residents. Sadly I can't remember who wrote it or its title but I'm fairly sure no movie could ever be as frightening as my imagination made it.
But back to the Argonauts Club. This was part of the ABC Children's Hour, an immensely popular children's programme. Presented in my day by "Mac, "Nan", "Jimmy" (also called "Little Jimmy Hawkins") and I think "Judy" the Children's Hour had something for everyone. There were segments on music, stamp collecting, art, nature, poetry, Greek myths and legends - probably where I gained my fascination with such things now I think about it, books, birds, photography and much else. Ruth Park contributed an ongoing drama called The Muddle-Headed Wombat which eventually became the much loved children's book series. There were regular singing segments which ranged from opera to nonsense songs - and was where I think I first heard about the dragon with thirteen tails who "would feed with greed on little boys, puppy dogs and big fat snails." The final segment was a dramatised serialisation of a book. So something for everyone.
The Club itself was open to any child between 7 and 17 although, I suspect, that like me most drifted away once we got beyond our early teens. When you joined you were given a Ship Name and number which entitled you to send in contributions of writing, poetry, art and music for which you received certificates and I think there were other book prizes. Part of the Club sessions always included lists of members' achievements but always under the pseudonym of Ship name and number, not real names. Although I joined I never plucked up the courage to send anything in but I was always fascinated by the achievements of others.
Although it didn't strike me at the time I've wondered since why they settled on the Argonauts as the basis of their club. When I look at the legend of the Argonauts Jason was definitely a less than admirable character but I suppose it fitted the ideas of the times where a group of men went out and succeeded despite incredible odds and all the others who were damaged along the way were just what armies now call collateral damage. The hero's successful quest was what mattered.