The Golden Age of TV Sitcoms
Zoo Lou of St. Paul: “Subject: The Evolution of Lumpy Rutherford.
“They say you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Unless, that is, you’re Clarence ‘Lumpy’ Rutherford, one of the main characters on the popular sitcom ‘Leave It To Beaver,’ which ran from 1957 to 1963.
“In one of the episodes during the final season, Wally Cleaver (Tony Dow), who has always been a good student and athlete, learns his application for a college scholarship has been turned down. Then Wally finds out that Lumpy, usually portrayed as a terrible student and inept, clumsy athlete, has been awarded a four-year athletic scholarship.
“Suddenly, Lumpy, who calls his father ‘Daddy’ and is forever acting like an overgrown child, is the big football star, one of the toughest guards in the state and dubbed ‘block of granite’ by the newspaper. To me, the ‘block of granite’ moniker should apply to Lumpy’s head rather than his athletic prowess.
“Case in point: Lumpy and the obnoxious Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond) once attempted to cheat on a history test by hiding the answers in the bathroom. The teacher discovers the answers, but Lumpy and Eddie think Wally stole them and call him a double-crosser and dirty rat. Some best friends! This attempt to cheat could easily have led to a suspension and been a black mark on Lumpy’s record when it came to getting the scholarship. But it seems to have been quietly swept under the rug by the show’s creators and writers.
“At a party given by Wally, ever the nice guy, to celebrate Lumpy’s scholarship, Lumpy gets a call from his overbearing father, Fred (Richard Deacon), who calls him a big, stupid boob because he got a D in math and won’t be getting the scholarship. Lumpy is heartbroken, but Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont) calls a friend at the college, who suggests if Lumpy can raise his math grade in summer school, he’ll get the scholarship.
“Despite his checkered past, I felt real sympathy for Lumpy, especially the way his dad treated him. Thanks to Ward’s kind gesture, I found myself hoping this ‘sow’s ear’ would evolve into a ‘silk purse.’ And maybe someday, everyone would just call him Clarence.”
The highfalutin displeasures
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Coyote Syndrome.
“If you spend any amount of time on the Internet, it’s a cinch that you will be bombarded with health-related warning signs. Today it was how my fingernails look, and yesterday it was about what certain itchy body parts are trying to tell me.
“If there really is ‘a sure-fire sign that all liars give themselves away with,’ would we have televised political debates?
“I’ve got enough to worry about without getting these red flags while I’m trying to concentrate on Kanye, Kim, J. Lo., and Alex updates.
“I feel like I’m standing under the boulder in a Road Runner cartoon when I go online. (And with my tinnitus, I hear enough beeping already.)”
Vive la difference?
Plus: The kindness of strangers
A pair of dispatches from Rusty of St. Paul: (1) “Here is another example of how women are different from men.
“Last week, my wife made a Goodwill run with cast-off clothes of hers. I did an inventory for tax-deduction purposes. Included were five belts and five pairs of blue jeans, all in great condition. The box was so heavy, I had to carry it to the car for her.
“My wife has multiple belts in many colors. Leather ones, plastic ones. A cloth one and a woven one. Thin ones and wide ones. A leather one that has been leather worked. If she has a thin white plastic belt with a black buckle, then she needs a wide white plastic one with a black buckle, too. She is hopeful to locate a colorful beaded one like she had in college.
“I have two belts. One is dark brown and one medium brown in color. One is too big, so when I cinch it up, there is a long tail of extra leather hanging down. The other is a two-layer belt, and I have had it so long that segments of the inner layer have broken off. That makes it difficult to feed through the loops, but hey, it still functions fine to hold my pants up.
“Two brown belts are plenty for me. I used to have a black belt, and I do have a newer pair of black hiking pants that are smart-looking enough that I could wear to a funeral. Due to putting on the COVID 19 (pounds, that is), those pants are tight enough that I don’t even need a belt. I wear my shirt untucked, and no one is the wiser. I do have a pair of suspenders for backup, but no one wears suspenders anymore except for Don Shelby.
“I have two pairs of blue jeans. One I got at the thrift shop, as I needed a larger waist size. The legs are too short — floodwater pants. The other pair, I bought new, and the legs are too long, so I have to roll them up. I have the black hiking pants. I inherited my late dad’s khakis that are made out of some kind of material I have never heard of. If I run my nails down the leg, they make a terrible noise. I have a pair of dress pants for nice occasions, but they don’t fit anymore. I keep them, as someday I might fit them again. Excuse me. I am back now. I had to pause from typing for a minute to laugh my head off. I also have a pair of wide-wale corduroys hanging in the closet from 25, 30 years ago. No one wears corduroys anyone. Not even Don Shelby. But I hear if you keep something long enough, it comes back in style.
“This past weekend, it was summer weather. My wife was lamenting that we are going to go from winter straight to summer and skip spring: ‘And I have ALL these cute spring clothes to wear!'”
(2) “On Easter, after we had risen and watched virtual church, my BW (Beautiful Wife — a term I just pulled from the Frank Deford memoir I am reading) and I went for a walk along Pigs Eye Lake. I knew of that area, but had never hiked there. We enjoyed it, other than a lot of trash from people’s camps, and it will be even nicer after the green-up (and spring clean-up, if there is one).
“We happen to drive a car of the make and model that is very popular for the local carjackers to ’jack. Because I am so certain this is going to happen when I drive it, I remove my driver’s license from my wallet, pocket it and leave my wallet at home. And we bring only one of our phones, so only one gets stolen. Sigh.
“I am a picture taker, so on our hike I used my phone quite often. The paved trail is really for bike riders, so we hiked it when we needed to and cut off on dirt trails when we could.
“In the last portion of our hike, we had just gotten off the paved trail when a guy less than half my age and his BG (Beautiful Girlfriend — I just made that up) biked by. He slowed, turn his head to look at me, biked a bit more, stopped, turned around and came back to the intersection of the paved and dirt trail. By then I was about 120 feet down the dirt trail. ‘Hey!’ he yelled. ‘Are you Rusty?’ I was flabbergasted. ‘Ah, yes!’ How did he know unless he reads Bulletin Board, though our images aren’t attached to our submissions?
“I could then see that he had a small object in his hands. ‘I found this on the trail,’ he said. My driver’s license, of course. I had had it in the pocket with my phone. I can’t be sure, but I think he backtracked to find me.
“I was beyond grateful to him, as I had just gotten this license two weeks ago. I had no cash for a reward, and I doubt he would have accepted it anyways. He just seemed like that kind of nice guy. He made my Easter. His BG is lucky to be with him.”
Till death us do part
Dennis from Eagan reports: “Subject: April Fools’ fuels.
“I hope everybody had a great Easter or Passover weekend!
“My wife and I trick each other annually around April 1. This year, I hid a mouse in the coffee jar, and she screamed loud (after finding it). She responded by covering my Zest soap bar in the shower with nail polish so that I wouldn’t get any lather.
“In previous years, I’ve done things like tape gummy worms on her shampoo bottle’s back side and mix in (M&M-like) Red Hots candy with her Reese’s Pieces box; she’s secretly hid my beer stash or our toilet-paper rolls.
“I’m wondering if fellow BB-ers have some good April Fools’ Day stories with friends or relatives to share?”
The verbing of America
St. Paul Pioneer Press Division
Ever Vigilant Former English Major: “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the headline in THIS newspaper on Saturday: ‘Most Americans are now unchurched, Gallup finds.’
“Alert the Anti-Verbing Patrol!”
The little treasures
Writes LeoJEOSP: “I am the kid with the red jacket. Looks like I am ready to defend my Easter basket.
“1962 was the date of this photo.”
The little treasures (responsorial)
Kathy S. of St. Paul writes: “As a genealogist, I see old pictures posted on genealogy sites by people trying to date them or identify the people — because so many folks didn’t write dates on pictures, or even (often) names. It drives some of us nuts.
“The clues start with cars. I remember when any family member who bought a new car would drive it around to show it off and give rides in it. I especially remember an aunt born in 1914 bringing her new car to our house in the 19(60s?). It had the biggest honking fins on it, which I considered ugly as Hades. And the tradition continued as my mom took a picture of me with each new or used car I got. My life chronicle could include a timeline of Kathy with her cars.
“Anyway, anonymous pictures may have clues in them, and the first rule is that they cannot be older than something in the picture. Cars give us a starting date; if a car came out in 1932, the photos of that car can’t be older than that. Fashions also give clues, such as the slender skirts during WWII (when folks were urged to conserve on fabric), or beehive hairdos. I have a professional outdoor picture from 1919, of my great-grandparents and their nine living children. Rose, the youngest daughter, wore white shoes and a dashing polka-dotted dress. Her oldest sister, Nellie, wore a shirtwaist and skirt with dark boot-type shoes that laced up her ankles — even though it was taken in the summer. So Rose’s clothing would give the most clues as to the age of this picture.
“And of course toys such as plastic Hula Hoops (1958) or erector sets (1913) can date a picture as being no older than that year.
“I wonder if anyone ‘back then’ could have guessed how closely we would study some of these old pictures.”
Band Name of the Day: The Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherfords — or: The Itchy Body Parts
Website of the Day:
Leave It To Beaver – S06E24 – Lumpy’s Scholarship from Joey Haim on Vimeo.