Tuesday, May 27, 2014

An informative interview with author John T. Hetherington

JIMBO - Mr. Hetherington, thank you so much for doing the interview. In the Preface of your book, you tell the story of your youth, lying in bed with headphones on, listening to old-time radio.  I did the same thing, in the same era you did (but on a different station, and in a different part of the country.)  Reading this, I felt a strong connection with you. The memories of those days - especially during the Winter when darkness came so early - my mind escaped into whatever the radio chose to play.  None of my friends or family listened to these shows.  Was it the same for you?

HETHERINGTON - Absolutely! Listening to those programs was something special, they transported me and captured my imagination in a way that television never had. I know exactly what you mean about darkness; I think it maximized the effect by helping to block out all of the distractions. In the dark I could be alone in this new world; one that, even though I had never directly experienced, I was, at least for that moment, living in. Like you, I didn’t know anyone who was listening to these programs and I think I liked it that way. It reinforced the feeling that I was entering into my own private little world when I listened to them.

JIMBO - You don't mention in the book how you came across the audio portion of Vic and Sade.  Do you remember how and when that happened? 

HETHERINGTON - I do remember, though, regrettably it isn’t the most interesting of tales. Vic and Sade was a relatively recent discovery for me. I actually came upon it back in 2000 when I was reading a book called The Serial: Suspense and Drama by Installment by Raymond William Stedman, and he was fairly rapturous about Vic and Sade. The humor he described sounded very close to my own, so I downloaded some episodes from a database that existed at the time. The first episode I listened to was the January 2, 1939 episode about Vic’s lodge regalia being on loan, while I liked what I heard, the program had been hyped so much by Stedman and others that it seemed a little anticlimactic to me. However, by the time I had finished listening to the episode in which Vic is dragged to the double feature in Hopewood – the second episode I listened to – I was sold!

JIMBO - You mention in the book that people either love Vic and Sade or they hate them.  I'll go a bit further - I think they either "get it" or they don't.  You fell in love with the show, as I suspect all who are reading this did.  What do you think it was that you found so enticing?

HETHERINGTON - I think that’s an excellent way to put it. I loved the way that Paul Rhymer injected so much irreverence and even absurdity into what were otherwise very mundane, everyday incidents. His sense of humor very much reflected my own, which some get and others do not. All comedy, after all, is subjective. I think I really identified with Vic who, like me, can be rather cantankerous but at the same time can be quite silly. I also loved the fact that Paul Rhymer populated the series with a full range of well-developed characters and entertainment. For example, the idea of having the adventures of a fictional character like Third Lt. Clinton Stanley compete for attention with the everyday events being depicted was brilliant! It was both true to life and also a reflection of the way the media—including Vic and Sade itself—compete with real life for the audience’s attention.

JIMBO - Perhaps the most surprising and refreshing thing about this book is the fact that were able to garner so much new material.  You obviously went to the Wisconsin Historical Society's library.  Could you tell us about your experience there, how much time were you able to spend there, were you able to photocopy documents, etc?  Also, what was it like to be handling Paul Rhymer's own notes?  Did you feel like you were in a library or did you feel like it was more like a museum?

HETHERINGTON - Although I did have somewhat romanticized ideas about the WHS before visiting, I really was conscious of the fact that I was in a library. I realized after the first day of my first visit that the collection was just too immense to sit and revel in, so I determined that my time and effort would be best used copying as many scripts as I could so that I’d have them to refer to rather than having to make do with hastily written notes. So, on the several trips that I made there, I really spent most of my time at the copy machine. That said, they do have an utterly fantastic collection of papers and scripts related to not only Paul Rhymer and his work, but also NBC radio and the library is housed in a beautiful building! Being able to handle Rhymer’s own notes is an honor and a privilege, and seeing his work and the handwritten marks and corrections creates a real feeling of connection to Rhymer and the past.

JIMBO - Early on in the book, you talk about how sad Sade was in the first week of the show.  I've always associated Sade with sadism (for clearly there are certain times that she enjoys torturing her husband mentally), but your book makes it occur to me that Sade is also associated (at least in 1932) with sadness, maybe even depression.  Can you talk a bit about this?

HETHERINGTON - Sade is definitely not a happy or secure woman in the earlier episodes. She is lacking the self-assuredness that I think we all take for granted in her. This is a woman who seems to feel very inadequate as a wife and homemaker as was illustrated in several episodes related to Mr. Ruebush coming to dinner in which she is so certain she will embarrass herself and Vic that she literally turns herself into a basket case! 

I think that, in many regards, the arrival of Rush helped to, among other things, give Sade a sense of security and confidence. At the very least, it took her mind off of obsessing about Vic and whether or not he was losing interest in her, which comes up early on.  In that sense, she stops being “Sad” and becomes the Sade we know from later on.

JIMBO - If Rush hadn't been added, how much longer do you think that boring drivel between Vic and Sade would have been allowed to go on?  I can't imagine anyone listening and liking that. 

HETHERINGTON - Ha! That’s an interesting question. The early scripts certainly weren’t the lively excursions that we tend to think of Vic and Sade as being, but at same time when the show first began, daytime radio wasn’t terribly entertaining, so it might have managed to hang on for a while. After all, on the day the show premiered, listeners to daytime radio in New York City, for example, were treated to Beauty Talk, Food Talk, Southern Authors and Poets, Graphology Talk, and Hillbilly Songs. By contrast, even a conventional drama might have been useful counterprogramming to all the talk shows.

JIMBO - You do not say this in the book per se, but you insinuate that the arrival of Bill Idelson as Rush completely overhauled the show.  You may not be able to answer this with any authority since we do not have any audio of those early days, but do you feel like the true hero here is Idelson and his acting or is it simply his character, Rush and the dynamics he was able to add to Rhymer's ability to write?

HETHERINGTON - Certainly the arrival of Rush invigorated things immensely! It didn’t just give Vic and Sade someone new to talk to, it opened up a whole new world of situations and, via Rush, new characters. It also helped to make them much more well-rounded individuals. It’s very difficult to answer the second part of your question. I don’t think any of us can imagine anyone else playing Rush; Bill Idelson was brilliant! However, short of casting a complete dud of an actor, the simple fact of giving Vic and Sade someone else to talk to and play off of couldn’t help but change the dynamics of the show.

JIMBO - How long did it take you to write the book?

HETHERINGTON - A lot longer than it should have! The book was written over the course of the last 3 ½ years, though I wasn’t able to work on the book continuously the whole time due to work and other obligations. Of course, I spent a good long while pouring over scripts and doing research into both program and the various cultural and historical topics that are examined, so the prep work took a long time just to get the material to figure out what to write about.

JIMBO - Why did you choose focus on culture of the times?  Did you consider other avenues to focus on and if so, which ones?

It struck me that Vic and Sade did an incredible job of both reflecting and critiquing popular culture of the period. This was a topic that I explored in 2007 in an academic journal article called “Critiquing Culture in the Small House: How Vic and Sade Brought the Mass Culture Critique to the Masses” in which I looked at some of the same areas I cover in the book, such as movies, leisure, and reading. In the article, I only had the recordings to work with, and that’s when I got the idea that I could expand it into a book if I examined the scripts and the broader context. And that helped to guide some of the choices I made in writing the book—while it does cover Vic and Sade, it looks at particular areas of interest and concern to the era’s intellectuals and culture critics, not necessarily the subjects most frequently discussed in Vic and Sade, to show the connection between art, culture, and criticism.

JIMBO - Do you think a combination Vic and Sade devotee and psychologist could write an interesting book about the dynamics between Vic and Sade?

HETHERINGTON - Oh, definitely! But I’m not sure how accurately Vic and Sade reflect specific psychological theories. After all, Paul Rhymer was first and foremost writing an entertainment program and a comedy. To that end, much of what we hear on the show is heightened and exaggerated for comedic effect. That said, there is definitely an interesting set of dynamics related to Vic’s self-perception as the smart one and the head of the family contrasting against Sade’s self-perception as unworldly and practical.

JIMBO - I've often spoke of the lack of affection between the couple.  Many have disagreed with me.  How do you feel about that?

HETHERINGTON - I can see why you would say that; they weren’t a couple who were terribly emotive, well, at least not in what would conventionally be described as affectionate. While they don’t go for mushy proclamations of love – which really wouldn’t have been that funny – I do think we can see a good deal of affection between the two. In the early episodes this affection seems to be reflected in Sade’s persistent worries that Vic will lose interest in her and, presumably, abandon her in favor of one of those “heavily bathed and greatly agitated” women that Vic suspected were after him. If there hadn’t been genuine love between them, I don’t imagine that Sade would have been all that bothered by the (perceived) flirtations of the women at the plant with Vic, and I definitely don’t think that she would have ever agreed to have participated in the Exalted Big Dipper Day rituals which were, frankly, rather demeaning. The same can be said for Vic, who yields to Sade’s will even when he probably doesn’t have to. Personally, I think there’s great affection every time he calls Sade “kiddo.”

Heck, from time to time Sade even allowed herself to be “playful” with Vic. In the October 9, 1933 episode, for example, she sits on Vic’s knee and tickles him in an effort to get the newspaper from him! I’m sure that they were up to shenanigans like that all the time; they just weren’t offered all that frequently in the short snapshots of their lives that we were given.

JIMBO - How do you feel about the lack of physical affection toward Rush and Russell from their adoptive parents? 

HETHERINGTON - Honestly, I’m less bothered by the lack of physical affection – which would be difficult to depict on the radio – than I am with the fact that Sade is generally unwilling to listen to either of them for more than a couple of seconds without either brandishing a dismissive “ish” or ignoring them to talk to Vic about something completely different. To tell the truth, this has always been my biggest issue with Sade and something that has caused me to grit my teeth and clench my fists on more than one occasion! That aside, I think both Vic and Sade do demonstrate their love for both boys in other ways, like the myriad nicknames Vic has for Rush and Russell or Sade’s sometimes over-the-top mothering.

There are, of course, times that we do see the boys receiving genuine affection from both parents, especially upon their respective arrivals at the Gooks’ home. Sade, for example, is particularly tender to Russell in his first two appearances. When he first arrives at the Gook house Sade wipes the tears streaks from his face and is quite maternal, despite being having initially felt that Bueller foisted Russell on them.

That said, I’m reminded again of the tickling episode I previously referred to. As Sade sat on Vic’s knee, Rush decided to join in the fun and hop on his other knee only to be rebuffed by Vic who informed him that sitting on his knee was a “privilege granted only to a select few. You get off” (10/19/33, p. 7).

JIMBO - The boys escape into their books - which is understandable, but then they often escape into the very mushy movies as well.  Does the fact that these films are (for the most part) on the overly romantic and dramatic side tell us a great deal about what they see lacking in their own home?

HETHERINGTON - Possibly, but to be honest I really think it made for some good humor to have the boys refer to these films. Having Rush bemoaning Donna Dreamerson movies as her “struttin’ around with no back on her underwear” (1/1/35, p.4) is good stuff!  Besides, it made them well-rounded boys, for that period of time. After all, in those days, movies had broader audiences, and people of both genders could be found at different types of films since they were a major source of entertainment. Presumably, Sade got to choose the film the family would see as often as Vic. Rhymer, of course, also knew who his audience was and that the largely female audience would be interested in humor based on the types of movies they were familiar with.

JIMBO - When dealing with WW II, you simply skipped over the fact that Idelson joined the Navy.  To me, that was definitely a way people spent their time, albeit, not exactly for entertainment.  I realize he has his own book(s) about the subject, but I do believe you missed a golden opportunity there to add to your book.

HETHERINGTON - My book focuses on the content of the program rather than the lives of the actors, but I do mention that he left for military service and even include a photo of him in his Navy uniform. However, Rhymer decided that he did not want the War to play a major role in Vic and Sade, and this is something that I address in the book. Rhymer was forced by NBC and the Office of War Information to include War messages in the show, but by and large he tried to keep Vic and Sade as an escape from the largest and most all-encompassing issue of the era. In the book, I discuss the tension this creates and how Rhymer made use of the characters on the show to create effective propaganda messages about the responsibilities of people on the home front.

JIMBO - You obviously tried to stay focused on the subject of your book, but you are bound to have come up with facts you uncovered that did not fit your subject.  We'd love to have those tidbits.  Care to share those?

HETHERINGTON - Considering that within every episode of Vic and Sade there are tons of very clever and funny things, there were lots of great little bits that didn’t make it in: Rush’s idea for shoes that work like an electric icebox (June 14, 1933); Rush planning a “fruit party” for his teacher with rotten fruit because it was less expensive than fresh fruit (November 17, 1933); Vic rhapsodizing about the “world of ecstasy” the word “beans” implies and prophesizing that he will be playing “beans, beans, beans” on his harp when he goes to meet his “reward” (February 9, 1934); a very charming scene between Sade and Rush at the animal house at the city park (February 13, 1934); the drama of Sade being subjected to a clerk at Croucher’s who was too chatty; all four of Fred Stembottom’s tires simultaneously blowing out (June 2, 1940); and many, many other things.

JIMBO - Was it surprising to you that Rhymer chose to make Sade and Ruthie Stembottom feel a need to keep the Thimble Club 'exclusive' and keep people out?   And what does it say about Rhymer that in the same episode, he made Mis' Appelrot feel the opposite way?

HETHERINGTON - I’m not sure what it, if anything, this says about Paul Rhymer; however, I think that the reason Ruthie and Sade wanted to keep the Thimble Club exclusive is because it was actually important to them. They valued the group and its members, whereas Mis’ Applerot, being Mis’ Applerot, was likely only concerned with her image and status and likely saw some advantage to bringing in new members.

JIMBO -  Do you have a favorite script?

HETHERINGTON - It’s hard to pick just one, but one that springs immediately to mind was the August 3, 1936 script which was set in “a brand new place” – the Union Railway Station. I love the interaction between Vic and Rush as they wait for Sade’s train to arrive. Rush is captivated by what he perceives as the “romance” of the train station with its “weary travelers” while Vic sees it as a “pretty desolate location.” Rush conjures up a romantic view of the train station from material gleaned from dime novels and movies, and his excitement and enthusiasm really shine through. Vic joins in, somewhat reluctantly, and can’t help but find it amusing to see the mundane through Rush’s excited eyes.

JIMBO - Did you see any scripts that you found particularly surprising that you did not share in the book?

HETHERINGTON - I think the thing that was most surprising to me was actually not a Vic and Sade script but rather an unusual draft script for an episode of The Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air which I describe in the book. It’s a very dark and twisted take on Disney. In regard to scripts, I’m not sure that there was anything that was especially surprising, but there were some unexpected things like the fact that Rush had a job at Vic’s plant in 1935; I hadn’t been aware of that. In the end, one of the most surprising things is just how consistent and consistently funny and observant Rhymer was from the first episode to the last.

JIMBO - What is your opinion on the script that I call, "Vic Has a Sore Knee"?

HETHERINGTON – The episode is certainly unusual, and the opening does seem rather dark for a comedy. But death is part of life, and unfortunately in the Depression the death of a child was an all-too-frequent occurrence. Here Rhymer highlights some of the inappropriately humorous moments that arise even during dark times, particularly Rush’s misplaced efforts to be upbeat. The second half of the episode, dealing with Rush’s efforts to be kind to his friend Link and his brothers, reads somewhat uncomfortably for us today because of the terminology used—“colored,” “black giants” — and the stereotypes invoked about “lazy” black people. But for its time it is fairly progressive in that Rush more or less manipulates Vic into voicing acceptance of the African-Americans as fellow humans rather than as “colored” people. Paul Rhymer told interviewers that he got most of his details about daily life from his African-American maid Ethel, and perhaps this reflects Rhymer’s effort here to show Rush as more progressive and accepting than his parents.

JIMBO - What is your opinion about David Whitehouse as Russell?

HETHERINGTON - I liked David Whitehouse’s performance immensely! I think that some fans have been unfairly critical of him in their comparisons of him to Bill Idelson. I think that it’s important to keep in mind that Bill Idelson had been playing Rush for 5 years by the time of any of the existing recordings and, as such, must have been pretty comfortable in the role. Also, by the point I think that the character of Rush had had the opportunities to develop and grow, something that Russell really wasn’t afforded the opportunity to do. That said, I am very fond of David Whitehouse and his portrayal of Russell.

JIMBO - Did you attempt to contact Whitehouse for the book to seek his opinions? 

HETHERINGTON - I did exchange several emails with David Whitehouse and spoke with him on one occasion shortly before completing the book to get an update on what he’d been up to since Vic and Sade. I’ve sent him a copy of the book, but, as of yet, haven’t heard from him about it.

JIMBO - Is there any reason why there is so little written about Whitehouse in the book?  Why do you think it is that he is a 'forgotten figure' as his name is rarely brought up in the old audio interviews and he's virtually non-existent in the other three books on the Vic and Sade subject?

HETHERINGTON - It certainly wasn’t my intention to shortchange David Whitehouse. In fact, I didn’t write extensively about any of the individual actors as that really wasn’t the focus of the book. It’s probably very true that scripts featuring Rush were discussed more frequently than those featuring Russell simply because he was featured in so many more episodes.  I personally am quite fond of the character of Russell and think that he and David Whitehouse are well-deserving of recognition for their part in the series.

JIMBO - We know where Russell came from, but does the script that introduces him explain how his parents died?

HETHERINGTON - No, the script merely explains that Russell is Mr. Bueller’s nephew and that his parents were Chicago people. According to Vic, Bueller has taken “temporary charge of him until he can form definite plans.” And then he brought Russell there “because this is a medium size city with green grass and fresh air.”

JIMBO - Between the five characters, which is your favorite and why?

HETHERINGTON - That’s a tough one, but I I’d have to say Vic just because he’s a lot like me – kind of cantankerous, but with a whimsical side and can be decidedly silly at times. Vic responds to things in much the same way that I do.

JIMBO - Early on in the book, you hint that Vic associates his hat (in a very early episode of the show) with Mr. Ruebush.  In your opinion, is there any way that the whole Vic/hat thing (and the reason that Sade messes with him about it) all has to do with Ruebush?

HETHERINGTON - In the episode, Vic tries to tell Sade that Mr. Ruebush expressed interest in Vic’s hat, but Sade doesn’t let him finish. I’m not sure that there is an attempt to symbolize Mr. Ruebush as the hat, but there is an undercurrent that Sade sees the story as something associated with Vic’s work life and therefore sees it as less interesting to her than her own domestic concerns, which she keeps talking over Vic to bring up whenever he tries to start the story again.

JIMBO - After Idelson joined the Navy and eventually left the show, it seems several young actors were given guest spots for a week each, posing as his friends (we have two audio occurrences, for example, of Leland Richards at the Gook house.)  Did you see any other scripts with other of these friends staying at the Gook house?  If so, which characters were they?

HETHERINGTON- No, I didn’t. The only other guest part that I encountered, such as it was, was a brief speaking part for a Mis’ Wilcox on June 14, 1933. In that episode Vic has come home early and is hiding outside talking with Rush while Sade entertains the ladies inside. Rush has been avoiding Mis’ Wilcox for fear she would want to kiss him; however, his plan doesn’t work:
WILCOX: Your mother didn’t tell us you were out here. I came out in the kitchen to get a drink of water. Just happened to see you. My, what a big boy you’re getting to be. And cute, too. I just…
RUSH: My face is dirty, Mis’ Wilcox.
WILCOX: (LAUGHING) Oh, that’s all right. Here. (KISS) (LAUGHS).
RUSH: Thanks for the kiss, Mis’ Wilcox.
Interestingly, Mis’ Wilcox had several other lines in the script that had been crossed out.

JIMBO - In your estimation, what percentage of Whitehouse scripts are re-writes of Idelson scripts?  Are you aware of specific scripts that were re-writes?

HETHERINGTON- I’m really not sure of the percentage. I don’t think that there weren’t that many, though I did come across a couple. For example, one episode originally written for Rush circa 1939 about making time for homework as part of a scheme to get in his teachers’ good graces was reused with Russell years later.

JIMBO - Personally, I'm happy you focused on 1932-44 and avoided those horrid revival series. Could you tell us why you avoided "Series 2" and "Series 3"?

HETHERINGTON - I had originally planned to cover the entire scope of the series and I did sit down and dutifully make notes about the later episodes. However, the revivals were quite different in structure and content from the first run of Vic and Sade, and in many ways they were new, and less interesting, shows. I did discuss them briefly in the book, but as I noted, the inclusion of new characters with speaking parts and new situations really altered the dynamics of the show. In the modern sense, we might almost think of them like spinoffs—the Mayberry RFD or Joey to the original’s Andy Griffith Show or Friends.

JIMBO - Chuck and Dottie Brainfeeble.  Those names conjure up horror in most fans!  However, in an odd kind of way, they have become interesting to think about and discuss, because I know of no one who liked them.  Open up your heart and tell us what your feelings are about that whole time period there when there was such chaos on Vic and Sade, right after Idelson went into the Navy.

HETHERINGTON - I never identified with Uncle Fletcher as much as I did when he was forced to endure encounters with Dottie Brainfeeble. I cringed every time I heard Dottie or Chuck! It did make for an interesting dynamic in that particular relationship, though, since Dottie and Chuck seemed to be so oblivious to others in much the same way that Fletcher never seemed cognizant of how he was affecting others. I suppose it gave him a taste of his own medicine, but I’m not sure it was really worth it.

JIMBO - Fans will enjoy the many trivial bits you slyly wove into the book.  I know you are a true fan of the show, because you dropped these facts every few pages, such as what Nicer Scott's real name is, when the Daily Love Story (or as Sade often calls it, the 'Daily Little Love Story') began, how Willard is connected to Mis' Brighton and Sade, where the Crooper, Illinois talk came from, and more.

HETHERINGTON - Good! I’m glad my love for Vic and Sade shines through. Including little bits of trivia like that helps to connect readers to the show and also demonstrates how carefully Paul Rhymer thought out his fictional world, often down to very small details. But also, as in the case of Crooper, Illinois, it also shows how memories can get fuzzy and how what we think we remember about the show isn’t always the case. The identification of the Gooks’ hometown with Crooper apparently came from the 1957 television revival in a humorous reference to Sade’s gowns being provided by Yamilton’s of Crooper, but this caused some to misremember it as being in the original radio serial.

JIMBO - Speaking of Willard, I was so relieved to finally know who he is, as 'the Willard question' had bothered me from almost Day One.  Is this something that you were also curious about, or is it just a coincidence that you revealed this to us with the episode you provide?

HETHERINGTON - To be completely honest, I hadn’t really given Willard much thought until I saw the 1936 script written for the National Education Association that identified him as Mis’ Brighton’s brother. Sometimes it seems that there are too many characters to keep track of them all!

JIMBO - The series, as a reflection on small-town midwestern life, involved a lot of jargon.  Have you ever speculated, or identified, some of the odder references, like 'powdered rabbit' or 'beef punkles?'"?

HETHERINGTON - In many cases the references are intentionally absurd, combinations of various things that Rhymer stitched together to sounds both grounded and silly at the same time, like something you half-remember but are encountering in a new and funny way. In the specific case of beef punkles, the beef is of course real, but the punkles appear to be made up to sound like the kind of unfamiliar but vaguely plausible parts of the cow you might use to economize in a slow-cooked recipe.

JIMBO - Any idea how the book is selling?

HETHERINGTON - Not yet! The book was just released a few weeks ago, and it will be a few months before the publisher reports the first sales.

JIMBO - Was my website(s) at all useful to you in your quest to write the book?  If so, what parts of the website did you find the most useful?

HETHERINGTON - Indeed it was! You site has a wealth of information, including articles and scripts, and I perused many of the sections in doing background reading for the book. I’m sure you saw that I credited your site in the book for the 1936 script “Rush Brings Home a Dog” as well as Tim Hollis’s biographical sketch of Clarence Hartzell.

Monday, May 26, 2014

My interview with Anthony Doherty, son of Bernardine Flynn

Sometime last week, out of the clear blue, I get an email from Anthony Doherty, one of Bernardine Flynn's sons.  He's the little one in the famous photo on the right.

He was quite gracious and I asked him to answer a few questions, and he kindly did:

JIMBO - Thank you Mr. Doherty, for joining me and doing this interview, it's a pleasure to have you here.

ANTHONY DOHERTY - My pleasure.

JIMBO - It seems impossible that here you are doing this interview and you are the tiny baby in the famous photo with the family in the hospital bed! Do you know if they did a show in the hospital there?

ANTHONY DOHERTY - In the Chuck Schaden interview she said that they thought about it, but because Paul Rhymer was able to produce scripts with one or more characters absent, that’s what they did. Probably Sade went to visit her sister Bess in Carberry. There’s a script in the first of the two books that Mary Fran brought out (“Sade’s House Is Not the Way She Left It”), set after her return from a week away. It’s dated 1940, which doesn’t coincide with either my or my brother’s birth (9/8/37 and 10/9/41 respectively). I suspect the hospital was just as glad they did it that way.

JIMBO - We're obviously all big fans of your mother's work. We've heard from her in interviews. What was your mother like?

ANTHONY DOHERTY - She was basically a very normal person, the second of seven children. Her father had a clothing store in Madison WI, and I imagine the family life was typical midwestern middle class. An aunt and uncle of hers had a farm fairly close to Madison, I guess, and as a kid she spent some time there. I remember her telling me that her aunt baked a loaf of bread and an apple pie every morning for the farmhands’ breakfast. She remained close to all her siblings, and we enjoyed visits from them from time to time.

I think what she said in the interview about being unrecognizable in public is a good description of her. I’m sure you noticed that the only personal credit in the broadcasts was “Written by Paul Rhymer.” That was fine with her and, I understand, the rest of the cast. She wasn’t a celebrity and certainly never acted like one. My parents did have a certain amount of social life, but it wasn’t focused on her career. When they had friends over, I don’t remember conversations about Vic and Sade or Hawkins Falls.

I’d say that Sade (and later Lona Corey) was a good fit for her. There were big differences, of course. Sade’s world was a very small one: family, friends, neighbors, the Thimble Club, their town. Not much curiosity about things outside her world, and not much of a sense of humor. My mother had wide interests. She had done well in French in college, and loved French poetry – poetry in general, in fact. She appreciated art and beautiful things generally, and had a small collection of Belleek china pieces. And she definitely had a well-developed sense of humor – how could she not, being around Rhymer?

When my father turned 70, he retired (which is not quite the right word) from being a big-city gynecologist and moved back to Clay City, IL, the very small, very rural town where he was born, and became a country doctor. My mother settled into life there and made friends. After my father died 6 years later, my mother remained in Clay City and lived quietly there. She could have moved back to Chicago and perhaps done some work – I always thought she could do a one-woman show doing readings from her favorite literature – but she chose not to.

JIMBO - As Sade, your mother played a woman with a very keen sixth sense. Was she like this around the house or was this just a part she played?

ANTHONY DOHERTY - She was very perceptive about people and situations. She understood my father very well, and would quietly take care of little details of home life for which he may not have had time or patience. As an obstetrician, he could get calls at any hour of the day or night, so she did whatever she could to make sure he could relax and enjoy his down time at home. The only vacation time he took (when he could) was to go down to Clay City, his home town, for a few days of quail hunting in the fall. One year, as he was about to leave, she was checking to make sure he had everything he needed, finishing by asking if he had his gun. That was a silly question, he responded: of course he had his gun. Somewhile later, after the hunting trip, he got a wee-hours call that he was needed at the hospital. Soon he called my mother from the hospital: he had gone off without his eyeglasses, which he had to have in the OR or delivery room. She found them, called a cab, and brought them to him. From then on, when he was about to leave for work, whe would mischievously ask, “Got your gun?”

JIMBO - You mentioned to me that you knew Paul Rhymer. Could you tell us about some things you remember about him?

ANTHONY DOHERTY - A lot of him is embodied by Vic, especially recognizing the potential for humor in ordinary people and things, and finding unique ways of expressing it. He loved sending off-the-wall letters and postcards. He would occasionally glue two picture post cards together, so that the description on the back didn’t match the photo. Or the card would have a very personal sort of message (in large letters, to the postal workers could easily see it: “I am broke, despondent, and in despair. Send money at once.” The back of an envelope might have an odd shopping list. He also could be slightly risqué, obviously impossible in Vic and Sade. My mother told me that on occasion, if he had jokes in that category, he might phone her, but to observe the propriety of not telling such stories to ladies, he’d preface it by saying, “This is a story for Chet [my father, nickname for Chester].”

I saw Paul fairly often during high school years. His son Parke (who was born 12 days after me) and I were good friends, and were regularly at each other’s place. One time the Rhymers took Parke and me along to a gathering at the house of some friends. They had a piano, and at one point Paul suddenly sat down and began to play. It was some rather lively tune, which he was pounding out in a sort of jazz style full of wrong notes and unstable rhythms, with a grimly serious expression on his face. At one point he looked up and announced “Here comes a hot lick!” I had no idea that he did that.

JIMBO - What do you think about how the show has carried on even though so many shows are missing? What do you think he would think of this website?

ANTHONY DOHERTY - I think Paul would be very pleased by it, and by the fact that so many people have discovered Vic and Sade. I’m certainly gratified by it, as it means he’s being recognized as the genius he was.

JIMBO - Any other thing you'd like to say?

ANTHONY DOHERTY - Since I was not yet 8 years old when the main run of Vic and Sade ended, I didn’t really understand it very well. I don’t think I listened to it very much at all. At that time it probably just sounded to me like adults talking about things that meant little to me. I do seem to have a very early memory of the name Bluetooth Johnson, but little else, other than the cast names. My mother took me to the studio a few times. I remember when the show was done in the later afternoon on CBS, from the WBBM studios in the Wrigley Bldg. And I do remember the Crisco Radio Newspaper; I was taken there once too. But for me and my school friends, radio meant the after-school shows in the afternoon: Tom Mix, Captain Midnight, and the others. I was much more impressed with my mother when she got a role in one story sequence on Tom Mix, and was on it for a couple of weeks. I got to go with her there one day to my great joy. It was on the Mutual network, from the WGN studios in the Tribune Tower. They did the show twice live for different parts of the network, and I could watch the busy sound effects man at work (V&S had almost no sound effects). The big bonus was that Captain Midnight was done in the adjoining studio, so I got to see that too.

During the winter of 1946/47 a touring play, Apple of His Eye, starring Walter Huston, came to Chicago. My mother knew Huston (I don’t know from what), and my parents went to the show, and greeted him in the dressing room afterwards. At some point Huston told my mother that one of the cast, an actress named Doro Mirandy (sp.?), wanted to leave the show and there were a few cities left on the tour. He asked my mother to consider taking over the role. She protested that she hadn’t.done live theater in years, she had her kids to care for (my brother and I were 5 and 9 respectively), and so on and so forth. My father interrupted and said, “She’ll do it, Walter.” So she finished the Chicago run and toured to a few Midwestern cities – Milwaukee, St. Louis, and a couple others, I think. That resulted in my first show biz “job” as dialog coach. As she was memorizing the script, she would give it to me and have me read the other lines to cue her. She said I began to make suggestions on how to say the lines, though I don’t remember that. When she got into TV – the short tries with Vic and Sade and then Hawkins Falls – I would sometimes cue her for those shows as well.

It was from that point that I really began to learn about how professionals work. Hawkins Falls  was a 5-days=a-week 15 minute show, done live, of course. They weren’t using videotape yet. My mother was on every day. (The actors were contracted for a specific number of shows per week – 1 to 5.) She would be up at about 6:00 AM learning her lines for the day. She always came to the studio well-prepared, as did the other actors. There was, I think, one exception to that, who was eventually written out of the show. Rehearsals were methodical: line work, blocking, technical, dress, broadcast. Then come back the next day and do it all again. They got it right the first time because there wasn’t a second time. This impressed me greatly. As a result I was never amused by the spate of TV blooper programs some years ago, with outtake after outtake with actors – “stars” -- giggling over their inability to get a 15-second take right. Not funny. I was gratified, incidentally, to see in an online description of Hawkins Falls that the cast was “Led by Bernardine Flynn.” Led by, not starring. My mother wasn’t a “star.” She was an ordinary person who happened to be a working professional actress. The cast was an ensemble, and included some older retired actors. Art Van Harvey (Vic) was the town pharmacist, Phil Lord the mayor, and Butler Manville the town clerk. Manville must have been in his 80s at the time, and didn’t feel that he could memorize lines anymore. So he was seated at an old-fashioned roll-top desk with many papers, including the script, scattered around its surface. As time passed, however, he began to stand and move about, as his line-learning skills came back to him.

Mis' Crowe Asks: What happened to Lady Maragaret?

I was reading Mis' Crowe's commentary today from the episode: 40-03-19 Bess Letter; Grocery List on Top.  She points out that Third Lieutenant Stanley is not with Lady Margaret in the book Rush reads from.  Rather, the Lieutenant is with "the Countess."

I had never noticed this before, as this was only declared in the audio. I wonder if you had noticed this before?

Two new commentaries and transcribed scripts from Mis' Crowe

40-03-19 Bess Letter; Grocery List on Top
40-03-25 Smelly Clark's Big Date

Friday, May 23, 2014

Book review: Vic and Sade on the Radio: A Cultural History of Paul Rhymer's Daytime Series, 1932-1944

I've just completed reading John T. Hetherington's Vic and Sade on the Radio: A Cultural History of Paul Rhymer's Daytime Series 1932-1944 [ISBN13: 9780786463039, ISBN10: 0786463031.]  It is available from many booksellers across the internet; I provided a link to Amazon.com because I often use them.  It is available only in paperback; and you can also purchase a copy for your Kindle or Nook.  It contains 210 pages.

The book is a fresh, intelligent read.  Hetherington has obviously done his homework at the Wisconsin Historical Society library.  The mention of the library should get your attention rather quickly; it's the place where the majority of Vic and Sade writer Paul Rhymer's unheard work sits housed quietly in dozens of boxes.  Hundreds, if not thousands of scripts from the radio series have been there for years.  One can only imagine how few times these mostly-unappreciated scripts have been held in a person's hand since the series left the air.  The unknown details in those boxes are precious to every Vic and Sade fan, because more than 3000 audio recordings of the show were purged by Procter and Gamble in a near-sighted attempt to save warehouse space.  Some 80% of these scripts have neither been seen nor heard since 1944.

The book is divided in two. The first half of the book focuses on the Media Context.  For a lack of a better definition, this part mostly deals with  Rhymer and the early days of Vic and Sade as well as other daytime radio during this time.

The first part of the book is the most important because Hetherington has dug up previously unpublished facts about the early days of Rhymer's writing career and of the show.  The book's first chapter is devoted to Rhymer's pre-Vic and Sade writings.  Hetherington points out in his examples how Rhymer seemed to be years ahead of others in the humor department.  Even before the days of Vic and Sade, Rhymer had a twisted wit. You'll enjoy reading about his "Fascination for disfigurement".  Also noted are some of Rhymer's early commercial writings for the soda pop, Orange Crush, where he also seemed to be decades ahead of his time.  This chapter of the book is important; until now, there was almost nothing of note written on the subject.

Hetherington takes a good look at the first week or so of the show.  Research reveals that during this time period, Vic and Sade was probably not very exciting to say the least, and as Hetherington points out, the show was "cramped".  The author points out how sad Sade was during the days before Rush.  All of his comments of this crucial period in the early days of the show - and the arrival of Billy Idelson - are an important contribution to the lore and overall preservation of Vic and Sade, as there is so little written about this previously.

Radio was the centerpiece cultural item of the time period, this fact is a focal point in the book.  While reading, I had a thought: Why is radio missing from the Gook's world?  Vic and Sade, after all, was a radio program.  Though not mentioned in the book, it appears as though Rhymer avoided the subject of radio intentionally.  The first audition, which never aired, does mention the Gooks having a radio and also an automobile.  Getting rid of the radio and car after that first audition tells us that Rhymer thought the show out very carefully.  The lack of a radio forced the Gooks to interact and entertain each other and the lack of a car made them have diversions close to home.

Hetherington's details of some specific subjects are often treated with two or more episode examples, most with quotes from the script and his own bit of commentary.  Every few times he mentions one of these episodes, he slips in a bit of worthwhile trivia that even the die-hard fan doesn't know.  One of these bits involve Willard and his association with Mis' Brighton, something I had wondered about for some time.  There are plenty of other juicy tidbits, but you'll have to read the book to find those out as it wouldn't be fair for me to share.

The second half of the book deals with Social and Cultural Contexts. The 'culture' eluded to includes the Bijou, Third Lieutenant Clinton Stanley's books, Vic's lodge activities, the Thimble Club and a few other things in the Gook world.  What is presented in this section is mostly new mentions of these things, rather than a laundry list that has been covered elsewhere.  It is left up to people such as overzealous webmasters and devotees to fill in the gaps.

Although Hetherington did cover most of the radar of entertainment involving the family, he completely left out or only barely touched on many of the most important activities, most ominously: indoor horseshoes.  These games were a very important psychological part of many shows, as these games represented Vic's ultimate escape when he was sad [sad = SADE].

The book does not include much about Sade spending considerable time at the neighbor ladies' houses.  Although gossiping is mentioned (at the Thimble Club), Dottie Brainfeeble was one of her very best friends in the world, and though most fans simply cannot stomach the lady or her husband on the show, she was such a large part of Vic, Sade and Uncle Fletcher's culture, you'd think that her inclusion would be a part of this book.  Dottie lived next door for at least three months, from February of 1943 to May or June of the same year.  That's at least 65 shows and probably more.  Yet, Dottie is not mentioned in the book.

While the Gooks played cards often, there's barely a page worth of material in the book about the pasteboards.  Cards were no fluke to the Gooks. Instead, cards were often a central backdrop in hundreds (perhaps thousands) of episodes.  Rhymer also chose the activity of playing cards as another way to show that Vic had no superiority against Sade.  He would often beat Rush or Russell at cards.  When he did this, he would change his name from Vic to "Victor" ("Victor one, Rush nothing!") - Victor, means "the winner" - that is, the one on top.  When Sade would play cards against him, she would drag the game out or simply quit; either way, he never got the chance to defeat her.  He was never the victor over her.

Cards were the absolute glue that forced Vic and Fred Stembottom to remain "friends" despite the fact that Vic obviously did not like Fred, who was tricky, conniving and probably not very smart to boot.  Vic would probably have nothing to do with Fred otherwise, you'd think.  And this "friendship", with it's never-ending strawberry and chocolate ice cream running joke, was no doubt part of dozens and dozens of Gook evenings.  These evenings of games of Five Hundred are barely mentioned.

Much more importantly, Rush was forced to fend for himself on those evenings of Five Hundred.  Imagine those nights when he stayed at home, he would have to endure listening to the Stembottoms and his parents converse about God-knows-what.  You know that he would have not been allowed to participate in these conversations, and this would have shaped his need even more to escape into the world of books and films.  One could have a grand time imagining the hours of conversation between the couples; but when you imagine these evenings from Rush's point of view, you can see how the boy may have been semi-tormented by the fact that he wasn't allowed to participate in the games or the conversations, but only to sit idly by with a book or "thinking thoughts".  I'll just bet he thought thoughts - and they probably weren't very pleasant ones.  What kind of nourishment is that for a young boy or a growing teen, exactly?  Exploring this in the book would have made for insightful reading as well, considering the fact that card playing was the impetus for what we can only imagine could have presented horrendous psychological problems.  Yes, I know it's only a radio program.

Another important subject missing is Rush and Russell playing sports at Tatman's vacant lot.  Both boys appear to have been fine athletes.  Rush relayed how his friends encouraged him on the ball field, something his parents rarely - if ever - did in any situation.  The name Rush can actually mean athletic prowess of a freshman or a sophomore - and Rush was perpetually a sophomore for a while.  Rhymer's naming him that was probably not an accident, since we know he was a master of words.  And these times of social interaction may have been the most important part of Rush's young life, yet these sports moments aren't talked about at all in the book.

Sade became somewhat of a prolific gardener.  She was a neighborhood social phenomena for a bit.  It appears that she not only had her own species of flower - the Panther's Blood - but designed gardens for others.  Yet this pastime is not really examined, despite the fact that Mis' Harris was also a devoted gardener and there's hints abounding that the Thimble Club also had many gardeners.  There is just a mention of Mis' Husher being a sweet pea gardener.

While there is lots of new information in the book, Hetherington did spend a great deal of time on telling us about culture that didn't involve the Gooks, or the show.  While this would seem to be important, I found most of these sections to be something I did not care to explore as in-depth as the author chose to.  The fans I encounter every day will probably appreciate the parts of the book that focus on the show rather than vice versa.

I'm guessing Hetherington felt as though his material from the show would not cover enough ground and chose to fill up the non-show parts with items such as Soap Opera and Serial radio material.  It's unfortunate that he did not dip his toe into the psychological waters of the day-to-day activities of the Gooks and imagine the problems that are inferred, but unsaid, by Rhymer. This might have made for compelling reading, no matter how ridiculous the premise might be.  And even though the opportunity is there and Hetherington did not go down these particular (perhaps) conspiratorial rabbit trails I have presented, that does not mean that the book fails.  It is a joy to read all the new material and is the only Vic and Sade book in existence that provides information about the show in a way no other book does.  I read the Hetherington book in less than two days (while taking vigorous notes), devouring it's contents like I would a plate of tender beef punkles.  By mostly avoiding the information already "out there", Hetherington really does provide something worth having.

While I have printed the synopsis of some of the episodes he mentions in the book (on The Crazy World of Vic and Sade), Hetherington goes into much deeper detail than anything I divulged.  He also takes some of the same episodes that Barbara Schwarz worked with and expands on them with new information as well as some of the audio episodes that you will no doubt recognize.

To boil it down, the book isn't perfect - it does have a few minor inaccuracies and weaknesses.  The book misses golden opportunities to explore new thoughts everywhere, but probably not so much that the average fan would care or notice.  The fact that Hetherington did his homework in the Wisconsin Historical Society library gives instant credence to the work and for this I give him bonus points galore.  All-in-all, there's enough new talky talk in the book to choke Billy Paterson and it's new information that's important when we're talking about Paul Rhymer and Vic and Sade.  The book seems to be selling out quickly in more than one place, so grab Ruthie and run down to Yamilton's and grab a copy.  And a few washrags.

Indoor Horeshoes are from Hell

Vic quietly went to Ike Kneesuffer's to play horseshoes at the end of many episodes, usually after Sade (sometimes with the help of Rush or Russell) teased him to almost tears about one of his failures.
The horseshoe pit (Latin derivative for hell) was in the basement (lowest story) of Ike's house.  The stakes are 40 feet apart - in Hebrew numerology (gematra), 40 is the number for 'punishment'.  (Stakes have been used traditionally for marking a man's territory - better yet, they're also known for witches being tied to them and burned to death).

It was custom as early as the 14th century to nail a horseshoe above the door so that no witch could enter an area.
Vic and Sade creator and writer, Paul Rhymer, slyly made Ike to represent Vic.  Ike was unique because he was the only other known person in the show that both worked with Vic at Consolidated Kitchenware, Plant #14 and was also a member of the Vic's Drowsy Venus Chapter of the Sacred Stars of the Milky Way lodge.  Ike, just like Vic, smoked cigars, was a snappy dresser, had a horrible singing voice, had a terrible temper... 

When Vic was teased or mad, he went below to a horseshoe pit; but when Sade was mad or sad, she headed upstairs to her room.  Without fail, Rhymer put Sade on top (heaven) and Vic the one in the pit (hell). Vic could never top Sade at anything.



Horseshoes are supposed to be lucky, but Vic was always unlucky.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

D' oh! Kickapoo Creek or American Legion Parade

The episode synopsis, 34-09-01 Kickapoo Creek or American Legion Parade?, was wrong.  I read it wrong - it's like totally opposite of what I wrote down because I obviously can't read.

The episode now is unusual and noteworthy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Coming soon, an interview with John T. Hetherington

I am happy to tell you that I have been in contact with John T. Hetherington, the author of the brand new book, Vic and Sade on the Radio: A Cultural History of Paul Rhymer's Daytime Series, 1932-1944. He has agreed to do an email interview with me, and I hope to send that out to him shortly. 

I finished reading the book the other day and I am working on a review of the book. I hope to post that soon.

As I have stated, the book is full of mostly new information.  Hetherington went to the library in Wisconsin and did his homework.  While I have supplied some details of some episodes he wrote about, I did not go into the detail he went into in his book.  Plus, he has a lot of script dialogue in his book from these scripts that perhaps only a handful of people have ever seen.

If you enjoy Vic and Sade, you'll enjoy the book.  But more on that later.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Jimbo finds another episode! Sort of.

Yes, I found another episode!!

But wait, it's only one I haven't heard - you have heard it probably 1000 times.

I've explained this before, but let me do so again...

When I download my Vic and Sade audio, I downloaded it from OTRR.  I don't know about now, but at the time I downloaded them, I was under the impression it was the most-complete of all of the "complete" sets.

Well as it turns out, it is the most incomplete out of the complete sets!  And to my count, there are at least 4 episodes missing and possibly as many as 7.  I have not bothered to go and crosscheck.

I tried to crosscheck once and obviously did a very poor job...

The other day, I heard a bit of this episode (which, by the way, is newly posted) and I thought to myself... HMMMM I HAVE NEVER HEARD THAT!  And after doing some digging, I found that I was right, I hadn't heard it!  And until this very morning, I had never heard the whole thing!

However, the gist of this episode was included on the J. David Goldin site and so I was already familiar with it's contents.

The nice thing about the episode is that we are told about a clique of Thimble Club ladies who come fromthe west part of town.  Sade refers to them in a way that is neither flattering or not flattering.  But she certainly does refer to them as as if they are different from the rest of the Thimble gals.

We are also privy to all four of those gals' names.

This is at least the 2nd episode I found out of a clear blue sky that YOU had and I didn't.  So be happy for me!

Friday, May 16, 2014

A list of today's new Vic and Sade "episodes"

43-01-15 Uncle Fletcher Cleans Out His Room

35-01-09 Composition and Snowball Fight

33-09-21 Rush's Four-page Composition

42-12-21 Fletcher's Shoestrings Spoil Shopping Trip

43-08-13 Special Deputy Fletcher

41-01-03 Chinbunny Wears Fake Sideburns 

36-02-21 Willard's Book of Poetry

38-05-11 Sade Refuses Simple Hawaii Research

33-06-15 Depression Dichotomy

35-01-05 Graduating Class Motto

40-06-05 Professor Rush - Tutor

37-10-04 Scribe of The Sacred Stars Searchlight

40-xx-xx Uncle Fletcher's Meals

I am not perfect! Uncle Fletcher's Meals 1940

All along, there has been a 1940 script I have been "avoiding" -- not purposely, mind you.  But I somehow confused this script (Uncle Fletcher's Meals) with the 1946 version.

The two episodes have completely different endings and since my notes from Barbara Schwarz only gave me a title and nothing else, I was kind of in the dark.

Yes, I knew a script existed,  Did I ever look at this script?  I'm not certain.  I do not like the 1945-46 episodes and perhaps my mind was telling me they were the same (although the 1946 episode is a 30 minute program).

I'll admit it, I messed up.  I do it all the time.  in fact, by a fluke, I believe I have found another audio episode that's been in circulation for years (it's quite likely one that YOU have and I don't) because "stupid me" got his audio from OTRR and not from archive.org or vicandsade.net.  We'll see...

At any rate, I do make mistakes and frankly, it's hard not to when you deal with a database this large.  I do not like mistakes and if you ever see one, feel free to point them out to me! (jimbo@otrr.org)

C and A Shops Wikipedia article

From Wikipedia:

Chicago & Alton Railroad Shops site

Now closed and demolished, Bloomington once was a center for railroad repair
and construction by the Chicago and Alton Railroad. Located half-way between Chicago and St. Louis, with a secondary line from Bloomington to Kansas City, this central point on the railroad is where the railroad located its main shops. Here locomotives, passenger and freight cars were renovated. Once McLean County's largest employer, this railroad reached Bloomington from Springfield in 1853.

It began business in 1847 as the Alton & Sangamon Railroad, beginning construction in 1850 and reaching Springfield in 1853. In 1852 the railroad became the Chicago and Mississippi. In 1855 they located their main repair shops on Bloomington's west side, building locomotives, freight and passenger cars. Local merchants and lawyers donated land to the railroad to induce them to locate their construction and repair facilities here. The Shops eventually extended along the Railroad from Locust Street on the south to Seminary Street on the north. By 1857 the Shops had 185 employees. George Pullman came here in 1858 to build his first sleeping car. The line from Bloomington to Joliet was completed in 1856 and to Chicago in 1858. In 1861 the line became the Chicago & Alton. On November 1, 1867 a fire destroyed the Shops; Bloomington citizens again donated funds to rebuild them. A branch from Bloomington to Kansas City was completeed in 1879. It terminated in Bloomington because local citizens again raised $75,000 to have the line end in Bloomington, rather than curving northward toward Washington to meet up with an existing eastern branch of the company.

These repair shops necessitated skilled craft workers: boilermakers, machinists, woodworkers, pipefitters, sheet metal workers, blacksmiths and others, employing almost 1,200 at its peak in the early 20th century. The C&A's payroll in 1905 locally was $1.2 million. In 1882 the Shops burned and the community raised $55,000 to expand and rebuild them, after the company threatened to move them to Springfield. A major fire again struck the Shops in 1908. In 1910-12 the community raised $650,000 to buy land to allow for construction of a new locomotive backshop. On July 1, 1922 the workers, organized in AFL craft unions, participated in the national rail shop workers strike and the Illinois National Guard was brought in and encamped around the Shops complex. The workers returned to work in October 1922 on company terms.
In 1936, the company had 1,500 workers in Bloomington, both shop employees and operating crews, who brought in an annual payroll of almost $2 million. The C&A was absorbed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1931, released by that company in 1942, bankrupt in 1946 and then absorbed by the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad, which quickly switched from steam to diesel power, greatly cutting employment at the Bloomington Shops. Today the former C&A line is operated by the Union Pacific Railroad.

What was the Shops complex can be viewed northward from the West Locust Street bridge or southward from the West Seminary Street bridge in Bloomington. At one time, 31 buildings were part of this complex, stretching on the west side of the railroad yards between these two bridges. Only two buildings remain. On the west side of the former complex, at the east end of Perry Street, is a brick building from the 1910 era. On the east side of the complex, at West Chestnut and North Allin Street, is the 19th Chicago & Alton freight house, built of dolomite stone quarried in the Joliet area. This structure is typical of the 19th century buildings which once filled the site. It is now used by a local printing company.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Just got confirmation: my copy of the book has shipped

If you are waiting for July - forget it.  The books (Vic and Sade on the Radio: A Cultural History of Paul Rhymer's Daytime Series 1932-1944) are already shipping.  I just got mail that mine shipped today.  (I bought it from Amazon.com).

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Taffy PDF-only script now in HTML!

1933's Vic and Rush Make Taffy, had a script, but only in PDF form.  Some people were not able to view this.

But thanks to Mis' Lydia Crowe, this script is now in HTML.  View your choice at the link above!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Still alive (and kicking!)

While making the new graphic for the front page of The Crazy World of Vic and Sade yesterday, I realized just how many Paul Rhymer innovations of speech still exist.

If you look up Lorem Ipsum, you will see a claim that it may have began in 1985. Another claim I found on the net was it actually began in 1959. 

However, if Paul Rhymer's GREEK JUNK isn't Lorem Ipsum, I dunno what what is.  And it least began as early as 1937, perhaps before.  And I don't care what anyone says, HE CREATED IT.

Bluetooth headsets are often referred to as "Bluetooth Johnsons" - as a matter of fact, I believe there is a brand of headsets called just that, "Bluetooth Johnson."  That's a Rhymer invention.

Wikipedia contends that "sh*t happens" is really a Rhymer creation (stuff happens).

I can think of no OTR show that can make a brag about having a hold on today's language.  What's odd about it, is that both Lorem Ipsum and Bluetooth Johnsons are technology "devices."  Vic and Sade is over 70 years old.

Bill Idelson page is fixed!

There was quite a bit of work involved but finally, all of the main actor's pages are fixed.  Yes, now the audio is retrievable, which is a very good thing, because I cut each interview up into individual subjects.  You'll not find that - or anything close to that - on fan site of any kind, I can almost guarantee that! (Bill Idelson's page).

I'm in full-steam Vic and Sade mode the last couple of days and though I have NO IDEA what I will be doing next (today) it will be related to the B&S websites.  Cleaning, fixing, changing, adding and "bettering."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Van Harvey and Hartzell pages fixed

As recently noted, Yahoo long ago messed up my audio product, therefore, interview pages were also a mess.

However, I've fixed two more pages, and now the Art Van Harvey and Clarence Hartzell pages are in working order.

Stupid YAHOO: fixing their mistakes

At one time, I had some very nice pages devoted to interviews with the Vic and Sade cast and others in show biz; these were all messed up, thanks to me being an idiot and using the Yahoo audio player on my pages.

Oh well, I am in the process of fixing those problems and I have now fixed the Paul Rhymer page, and the Bernardine Flynn page.

At some time in the near future, I will fix the other pages. 

Despite all the work I do on these sites, there is always stuff to fix!  Thanks for your patience.

Who's the best-looking man in Lester, Nebraska?

40-01-24 Y.Y. Flirch Elected Best-looking Man 

Mis' Lydia Crowe provides a new commentary and a script!

Three new commentaries and scripts by Lydia Crowe


40-01-09 Sade Muses on her Friendship with Mis' Scott 
40-01-12 Vegetable Garden
40-01-19 Gumpox's Horse Eats Donahue's Lunch  
 And thanks, Mis Crowe! 
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