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OCTOBER 2021

John Buttram.Thought I’d start with a tad o’ levity to raise your spirits. John Buttram, front and center. I see you’re wearing Levis. John claims they don’t have Groundhog Day in Texas...they have Possum Day. Yup, ol’ Mr. Possum comes out of his cave, blinks, and if he sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of dieting. Buttram sez next best thing to fish for memory food is possum...you eat a possum, you never forget it. A fellow Texan asked John to tell him about possum. John told the feller to look up possum in the encyclopedia under “p”. Well, the feller did so, but he couldn’t find it. Out of frustration, he bleated “O, Possum, where art thou?”

Hey, John Buttram, here’s a gag, right back atcha: Finnegan’s saloon of a late, sultry afternoon. Three gents stand at the bar nursing their Watney Ales. An Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman. “Barkeep!” the Brit growls, “A bloody fly flew into my brew! Kindly remove the blighter!” The bartender deftly flicks said fly high into the air, only to have it land with a dainty splash into the Scot’s brewski. Well, our Scotsman is an accomplished bagpiper, so with one mighty WHOOSH he sends the pesky bug, foam and all, into the Irishman’s tankard. Huh! The Irish chap surveys the situation from all angles. Precisely, he picks up the fly by the wings, turns the fly upside down over his mug, and commands, “Spit it out! SPIT IT OUT!!!”

Wayyy back in the early 20th century, my mom, Ella Jane Webber, captained the San Jose High School girls’ basketball team. Their uniforms? Middy blouses and bloomers. They played all challengers, including the Stanford U. ladies’ team. Mom and team beat ‘em all. That year, the San Jose Hi gals’ basketball team won the California State championship. Period! TA DAAA!! Let’s hear it for this year’s Stanford Cardinal gals’ basketball team! Their thrilling 54-53 victory over fellow PAC 12 team, the Arizona Wildcats, made ‘em the NCAA National Champeens...the first in coach Tara Vanderweek’s 29 years there. Bravisima! As for the gents, previously undefeated Gonzaga U. of Washington took the fall to the champ Baylor Bears. That eerie groan from the void comes from the Gonzaga U. alum, Bing Crosby.

Allison Joseph begins her pithy poem “Elegy For The Personal Letter” thusly, “I miss the rumpled corners of correspondence, the ink blots and crossouts that show someone lives on the other end, a person whose hands make errors, leave traces.” When I bring in the papers and mail (magazines, ads, promos, bills), if I spot a hand-written letter, I drop all the other stuff on the floor and hungrily tear open the envelope and savor each delicious word. Babs’ world of communication ranges far wider than mine, what with her trusty iPad and laptop...she grinds ‘em out. Takes me quite a spell to turn out a missive with my goose quill.

Dolores Hart, Jan Shepard and Elvis on the set of "King Creole".Two of my favorite pards o’ the pen are Jan Shepard and her hubba hubba hubby Dirk London. Jan writes about working on “King Creole” with Elvis. They met cute...she was in the doctor’s waiting room for a Paramount insurance check-up. Suddenly, raucous laffs in the hallway. Then, enter The King and cronies. Silence. Elvis freezes and gazes at Jan. He wears a maroon plaid jacket...Jan wears maroon plaid slacks. Elvis blurts, “Honey, either I’m going to have to give you my jacket, or you’re going to have to give me your pants!” And folks, that’s much more fun than an invoice! Danger, Jan Shepard...is your typewriter a Corona?

Will Hutchins as "Sugarfoot".Blessings to Bob King and Carol Peterson for the April 2021 issue of CLASSIC IMAGES and its nifty article on ol’ Sweet Toes. A deep bow of gratitude to y’all...now, if you’ll just help me up! And hefty elbow bumps and hearty handclasps with surgical gloves to David Greenland for pennin’ the puppy, “Golden West—The Enduring Appeal of Sugarfoot”...AKA Tom Brewster. Dr. Dave brings ol’ Shug back to life, sorta like Boris Lugosi. The two page article features five (count ‘em...5!) fine photos, two with lovelies Dorothy Provine and Merry Anders, two with shootin’ irons, one with a long sprig of straw (I sign it “Dig the crazy dental floss”). Doggies, there were close to 200 TV oaters back in the hayday...Brewster and I are proud to be remembered. Mr. Greenland lauds my show more than I do. “Everyone to his own taste,” said Aunt Matilda, as she kissed the cow. After reading Greenland’s Brewster-Booster, Babs and I repaired to our TV set and watched a couple of “Sugarfeet”. This called for Babs’ sacrificing a viewing of “Wagon Train”, starring her heart-throb, Bob Horton. Thanks to good gent Greenland, I found new insights into our show. We didn’t do the same sorta story week after week and our leadin’ ladies had a lot more snap, crackle and pop than was usual back in the day. Made me recall workin’ with the great John Qualen. At shoot’s end, we shook hands and he told me, “John Ford would like you!” One of my favorite compliments, along with my mom’s and my grandparents’...but you know how they are.

 

 

                                        —Adios