Sunday, May 31, 2015

Take short steps

"Ships come, ships go. Who know what happen, suh? Sometimes man go. Never again see. You take short steps, suh."

From The Warrior's Path, by Louis Lamour. Perhaps this expression was not original with Lamour, but it is very apt regardless. "Take short steps." Be very careful.

Slavery in perspective

Even the poor of Europe lived lives but little different from those of slaves, and in many cases they were worse off. Slaves were at last fed and clothed by their masters, and the poor of Europe had no such care.

(from The Warrior's Path, by Louis Lamour)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Doc Gamble as a gangster

I was listening to the 1950 episode of The Saint radio program entitled "The Peculiar Payoff," and thought I heard a voice that sounded familiar. Sure enough, it was Arthur Q. Bryan, who played Doc Gamble on Fibber McGee and Molly. Here he was a bumbling gangster.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The evil days

The book of Ecclesiastes speaks of old age as "the evil days," and then goes on to give a detailed description of them. All you have to do to understand the truth of this verse is to live to be old.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A country music group you may have missed

Hopalong Hathaway and his Pasadena Prune Pickers (from The Smiths of Hollywood radio show)

How could we have overlooked this private eye?!

Llewellyn Snavely Gray, know as the Masked Muskrat, with his assistant Cedric Wehunt. From the Lum and Abner radio show. "Hi, ho, Muskrat!"

Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons

One of the longest-running radio programs of the Golden Age of Radio was Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons. While it was a fairly good detective/mystery progam, it certainly was not nearly as captivating as some of its competition. The title role was that of an elderly gentleman whose personality was not dynamic nor his methods spectacular. Still, the show ran for 17 1/2 years. They must have done something right.


Perspiration shirt

In the radio program It's Higgins, Sir, the very proper English butler makes some comments about the garb of the son of the house, calling his attire a "perspiration shirt." It took me just a minute to get it.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A snappy retort from Fred Allen

I'm not given to indulging in acrimonious banter with any self-styled venomous upstart who sees fit to slap my cheek with a gloved preposition.

Making money as a child in the good old days

My mother would pay us a penny for every ten flies we killed on our carport, which actually was great fun. Being the shrewd businessmen that we were, we would sprinkle sugar on the floor to enlarge our "market." Daddy would pay us a penny for every 100 bitterweeds we pulled out of the pasture. I can assure you that the taste when we accidentally licked our fingers was awful!


Fat is a needful thing

"What I hoped for was a fat bear, and what I came up with was a skinny Indian." That is how Louis Lamour began his novel, The Warrior's Path. He goes on to explain why he needed fat. "When a body lives off the country around, fat is the hardest thing to come by. Fresh meat was no problem, but it was lean, mighty lean."

The Bible refers to "a feast of fat things," and perhaps this refers to the same principle. Leanness is generally associated with poverty, and when we walk close to God, our souls feast well and grow fat on spiritual food.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Patience or resignation

I am not always sure which it is. Have I learned to bear with difficulties and frustrations, or have I just decided it is not ever going to get any better in this life, and so I have given up expecting improvement? Patience is a virtue; I am not sure resignation is.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Want to be the sensation of the season?

If an administration and band director wanted to be the talk of the season, switch out the marching band for bagpipes and drums. There wouldn't be anyone leaving the stands at halftime!


I don't think I have any Scottish blood in me, but I declare that sound gets right down amongst me!

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Reading exercises the mind in a way that merely watching cannot. Reading, the mind must construct the action and the scenery, and thus much more of the brain is used.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A light in the window

Have you ever seen a lighted window flickering through the rain of a lonely land? Have you ever known that sudden gush of great-glowing warmth at such a sight? There is no other such feeling.

(from Here Ends the Trail, by Louis Lamour)


Friday, May 22, 2015

Stay out of jail!

"Night in Bastille not exactly bed of roses."

(Charlie Chan, from The Shanghai Chest)


Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Johnny Dollar quip

"This case was developing more suspects than garlic breath in a crowded elevator."

Beethoven on old radio

In the episode of The Fat Man entitled, "The Lost Penny," the case is solved by Brad Runyon by knowing that a Beethoven rondo is commonly known as Rage (called Fury by Runyon) Over a Lost Penny." Pretty good knowledge of classical music by a flatfoot, I thought.

Incidentally, the theme music for this program features a tuba - probably the only instance of that in old time radio.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sleepy time

I hate it when I get into the habit of growing drowsy at a particular time of the day, usually the afternoon. That is a bad habit that is SO hard to break.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sounds a lot like Louis Lamour

"Lanyard, whose traning had taught him how to listen, hadlearned that the nocturnal hush of each and every house has its singular cadence, its own gentle movement of muted but harmonious sound in which the introduction of an aalien sound produces immediate discord, and to which, while at his work, he need attend only subconsciously since the least variation from the norm would give him warning." (from The Lone Wolf, by Louis Joseph Vance)

This is very interesting, because it is almost exactly an urban transcription of what Louis Lamour said more than once in his western novels about frontiersmen becoming familiar with the night sounds before they went to sleep, so that anything out of the pattern would awaken them.

Corny and funny

Some comedy acts are merely sappy or corny - not really funny. To me, Martin and Lewis fell into this category. Others are consistently genuinely funny. Abbott and Costello had both elements in their radio shows. Sometimes they made you wince because the jokes were so bad, and then the next minute you would be forced to grin.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The town sheriff?

On an episode of the old radio show The Six Shooter, I heard, for the umpteenth time, a character referred to as the town sheriff. Town's do not have sheriffs. Counties have sheriffs. Towns have marshalls.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The three great gangster faces

Image result for george raft gangster
George Raft

Image result for james cagney gangster
James Cagney

Image result for edward g robinson gangster
Edward G. Robinson

As good as music ever got

Drag the indicator over to the 16:51 mark, and listen to 18:16 for a minute and a half of the absolute apex of music. And Beethoven was deaf when he wrote it! Watch Daniel Barenboim when they get to the high note. Can you imagine what a thrill it must have been for those kids to have sung this great work in a setting like that with such a distinguished conductor?


Not much of a recommendation for taxi drivers

"Why are you dressed that way? Is it a disguise?

"A pretty good one. But in point of fact, it's the national livery of my present station in life."

"What do you mean by that?"

""Simply that, out of my old job I've turned to the first resort of the incompetent: I'm driving a taxi."

(from The Lone Wolf, by Louis Joseph Vance)

Saturday, May 16, 2015


Not sick enough to be in bed, but not well enough to be doing anything. A tough day. But they do happen, and about all you can do is buck up and endure them.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Texas Rangers on Romance radio show

Some of that well-traveled music from Tales of the Texas Rangers shows up on the Romance radio program - as well as in a lot of other places.


Sometimes words will come to my mind that cause me to wonder if they have ever been used as a given name. “Magenta” was the candidate today. Colors have frequently been used in that capacity, so why not Magenta. It has a nice sound to it, after all. So . . . I looked on one of the genealogy websites, and sure enough, there have been quite a number of Magentas. I guess it was not all that unique, after all.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Granny Clampett's connection with Fibber McGee and Molly

Irene Ryan (Granny Clampett) and her first husband, Tim, were in vaudeville at the same time as Jim and Marian Jordan (Fibber McGee and Molly). According to Wikipedia, it was Tim Ryan that suggested to the Jordans that they include more patter and comedy in their show, which led to the creation of the Fibber McGee and Molly act.

Tim and Irene Ryan

Chief Gates on People Are Funny

Actor Ken Christy portrayed Police Chief Gates on The Great Gildersleeve radio show. The show People Are Funny was hosted by Art Linkletter, and on the program he assigned people to do various stunts, most of which had some twist to them that made them entertaining. On this particular program, he had an engaged couple leave the studio, pose as if they were eloping, and stop at a house, claiming that their car had broken down and could they spend the night there. Christy then was to come along later, bang on the door, and claim that he was looking for the low dog that had run off with his daughter.


Steve Mitchell's quick departures

I listened to parts of two Dangerous Assignment radio shows on the way to work today, and in both of them the Commissioner calls Steve Mitchell into his office, gives him his assignment, and tells him that his plain leaves in an hour. Presumably the office is in a major metropolitan area, where trips to the airport can be hindered by traffic problems. Getting to the plane was not as big a problem in those days as it is today, but it still took some time. I guess Mitchell carried a full set of traveling items with him at all times? Maybe he got a police escort to the airport? I don't know, but it seems like the Commissioner habitually cut the margin awfully fine.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Charlie Chan must have been a Scout

"Must gather at leisure what may use in haste."

(from Docks of New Orleans)


Monday, May 11, 2015

Barry Sullivan as The Saint

Old radio fans are well acquainted with Vincent Price as Simon Templar, a.k.a The Saint. On at least one occasion, when Price was unavoidably detained elsewhere, Barry Sullivan filled in for him in the role, and did a good job.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

I love my mother and my wife

and my daughters; and I appreciate every woman who is a diligent and conscientious mother. They are one of the greatest gifts of God to the welfare of society. What would we do without them?

Now, having said that so there is no mistake about my attitude, it still is an irritation that merchandisers have imposed a day upon us when we must go through certain ritualistic observations or be thought to be cads and bounders. If I never express my appreciation to these wonderful women, then I am indeed a cad of the worst sort; but it irks me that I am forced to do at a particular time that which I try to do routinely, or be thought to be something that I am not.

The birds are singing to bust a gut this morning

This is a great time of the year for them, and consequently, for us.

Saturday, May 09, 2015


I love it when we have dogs of undetermined origin. Maybe one breed shows through a little bit, but the rest remains fruitful fodder for speculation.


Friday, May 08, 2015

"Boggle" is an ancient word

It is amazing how ignorant I am of the English language. I have heard the word "boggle" used for years, usually in the expression, "That boggles my mind." I had just assumed it was some modern slang expression. However, tonight I ran into it in the Bible Commentary by the English theologian John Gill, who died in 1771. So, I looked it up in Skeat's Etymological Dictionary and found that it means "to start aside, swerve for fear," and probably had its origins in Welsh words meaning "a spectre," "a scarecrow," "a threat," and "to scare."

Edmond O'Brien - the most realistic Johnny Dollar?

With most people I have questioned, Edmond O'Brien is at the bottom of their lists of favorite actors to portray old radio show insurance investigator Johnny Dollar. However, he actually might be the most realistic of them. O'Brien's manner was gruff and matter-of-fact, and since an investigator is, after all, not an actor, the Dollar he gave us may have been the soundest of all.


Thursday, May 07, 2015

Charles Russell, an underrated Johnny Dollar

Except for the original audition episode, Charles Russell was the first of the radio actors to portray the well-known insurance investigator on Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. His style was somewhat different from the others, with a strong hint of sarcasm that gave it a nice cutting edge. If you find copies of the program, grab them.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Floyd the Barber on The Lineup

Howard McNear (Floyd the Barber on The Andy Griffith TV Show and Chester on the Gunsmoke radios how) was a regular on The Line-up radio program. He frequently was one of the criminals who appeared in the lineup which was a feature at the start of every episode. His voice was so distinctive that you have no problem knowing who the actor was.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Titus Moody's cow had insomnia

The bags under her eyes got so big he couldn't tell which end to milk.

(from the Fred Allen radio show)

The Scarlet Pimpernel - a famous, what?

He was not a spy, because his mission was not to get information, at least not normally. He was not a guerilla, because he did not carry out combat activities. He was not a secret agent, because he was not an agent of the government, but a private individual. He is a little hard to pin down.


Explain that, Evolution

Can you explain the instrument above? Dare you contend that it is merely a product of a fortuitous concurrence of atoms or that it is the product of Survival of the Fittest? Is there any possible way you can explain it?


Or, Evolution, perhaps you can explain this instrument? Is its operation any less amazing than the first one? Why, then, do you contend that one is mere happenstance while the other must be the result of intelligent design? Hmmm?

Monday, May 04, 2015

The sad girl who sang at assemblies

At the public school I attended we would have general assemblies one day each week. Usually there would be announcements/reminders, and perhaps some little speech or something by someone from the faculty. Occasionally someone from outside the school would address the student body.

Once or twice a year we would have a sort of talent program. Anyone who wanted to could participate. Several times there was a girl from Sugar Grove who would sing as her participation. Sugar Grove was a very poor community south of town which was somewhat of a standing joke because of their toughness and lack of culture, through no fault of their own. This girl sang a country ballad a cappella, and because she stood alone on the stage and sang, it was somewhat awkward for the audience, since it seemed very pathetic. However, looking back on it, I seem to remember that she had a strong, clear voice and sang well. She wanted to sing badly enough that she was willing to endure the embarrassment to do it. She never won any sort of a prize, but she probably should have.

Historical characters in old radio shows

One of the interesting features that occasionally pop up in old radio shows is the introduction of real historical characters into the fictitious stories. This was particularly true in those that dealt with western themes. For example, Wild Bill Hickock came to Dodge City a time or two in Gunsmoke, and in the episode of Have Gun, Will Travel entitled "You Were Dead," Paladin holds a conversation with the famous Indian chief Red Cloud.

Tangibleness and memory

There is a connection between the tangible and memory that, at least in my experience, virtuality does not have. If you want to know the meaning of the word, for example, look it up on the internet. If you want to remember the meaning of a word, look it up in a physical dictionary - in a book.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Rainy Paris

It was raining monotonously, with that melancholy persistence which is the genius of Parisian winters; and the paving of the interminable strange streets was as black glass shot with coloured lights.

(from The Lone Wolf, by Louis Joseph Vance)


Washington or Hollywood: which is sleezier?

That is a good contest. Both are working hard to win.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

How Robin Hood saved a composer's life

(From the IMDB website)

Erich Wolfgang Korngold was invited by Warner Brothers to come from his native Austria to Hollywood to see the film with a view to scoring it. He initially turned down the chance as he felt that his musical style was ill-suited for adventure spectaculars. However, while in Hollywood, he learned that the Nazis were about to invade Austria and, feeling he had to secure a source of revenue in the United States, he accepted the assignment. He would go on to win the Oscar. For the rest of his life, Korngold, grateful of how this successful assignment allowed him to stay in America and safe from the Nazis' murderous persecution would playfully quip, "Robin Hood saved my life."


Holy ground

God told Moses to take off his shoes before the burning bush, because the ground where he stood was holy ground. We are afflicted with a national irreverence today - about most everything. We just do not have any respect, and the affects of that attitude have been ruinous.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Joe's Bar and Grill

The proverbial Joe's Bar and Grill actually appears a few times on a flashing sign in the movie Strange Impersonation. I guess the movie makers had either a good sense of humor or virtually no imagination. I wonder how many establishments with that name are in the United States.


The Chinese Detectives

Mr. Wong, Mr. Moto, Charlie Chan. Three great series of movies. No, there were no cinematic works of art among them, but together they form one of a distinct genre of movie history. To those of us who love old movies, they are GREAT. If you are not familiar with them, you are missing a lot of fun.