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Lum and Abner

Lum and Abner: Rural America and the Golden Age of Radio

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Lum and Abner
    Book Description:

    In the 1930s radio stations filled the airwaves with programs and musical performances about rural Americans -- farmers and small-town residents struggling through the Great Depression. One of the most popular of these shows wasLum and Abner, the brainchild of Chester "Chet" Lauck and Norris "Tuffy" Goff, two young businessmen from Arkansas.

    Beginning in 1931 and lasting for more than two decades, the show revolved around the lives of ordinary people in the fictional community of Pine Ridge, based on the hamlet of Waters, Arkansas. The title characters, who are farmers, local officials, and the keepers of the Jot 'Em Down Store, manage to entangle themselves in a variety of hilarious dilemmas. The program's gentle humor and often complex characters had wide appeal both to rural southerners, who were accustomed to being the butt of jokes in the national media, and to urban listeners who were fascinated by descriptions of life in the American countryside.

    Lum and Abnerwas characterized by the snappy, verbal comedic dueling that became popular on radio programs of the 1930s. Using this format, Lauck and Goff allowed their characters to subvert traditional authority and to poke fun at common misconceptions about rural life. The show also featured hillbilly and other popular music, an innovation that drew a bigger audience. As a result, Arkansas experienced a boom in tourism, and southern listeners began to immerse themselves in a new national popular culture.

    InLum and Abner: Rural America and the Golden Age of Radio, historian Randal L. Hall explains the history and importance of the program, its creators, and its national audience. He also presents a treasure trove of twenty-nine previously unavailable scripts from the show's earliest period, scripts that reveal much about the Great Depression, rural life, hillbilly stereotypes, and a seminal period of American radio.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5645-3
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-68)

    FROM 1931 UNTIL 1954 Chester “Chet” Lauck and Findley Norris “Tuffy” Goff gave voice to the village of Pine Ridge, Arkansas, on their popular radio comedy series,Lum and Abner.¹ The show is a rare example of a lasting national network program on rural themes. Even more unusual, it was set in the South and created by southerners. Until 1940 Lauck and Goff, who were natives of Arkansas, wrote the scripts, played the title roles, and provided the voices for an array of townspeople. Their humor tapped many standard comic devices, but the Pine Ridge setting gave the show a...

  5. A Note on the Scripts
    (pp. 69-72)
  6. Lum and Abner Scripts: January 1932
    (pp. 73-134)

    (Dog Barks)

    Lum: Hello, hello.

    (Dog Barks)

    Lum: Git out from here. Howdy Abner. You better come git this critter fore I ruirn him.

    Abner: Git away from ther Lead. Git up under the house ther sir. I wisht somebody’d learn him to stop banterin everything that comes on the place.

    Lum: As many times as I’ve been over here that ornery critter dont seem to want me to come in the yard.

    Abner: Well old Lead is a good slow track dog but thats all abody can say fer him. He aint got a bit of jedgement bout peepul...

  7. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  8. Lum and Abner Scripts: December 1933 and January 1934
    (pp. 135-256)

    Lum: No Abner you’ll find out that they’s a heap more to politics than jist nouncin yersef fer office.

    Abner: Yea I [am] beginnin to find that out. I never went to all this bother with mysef when I was runnin fer constable.

    Lum: Well you was the only one in the race then. You’ve got some real competition now.

    Abner: Got some what?

    Lum: Competition. Some opposition in other words.

    Abner: Why jist Butch Dolan’s runnin agin me.

    Lum: Well he’s competition aint he?

    Abner: Yea but they aint but one of him.

    Lum: I know it.

    Abner: Well...