A star over Pine Ridge: Old-time radio listening, 23 December

Lum & Abner: Christmas Story (CBS, 1938)

Chester Lauck (left) and Norris Goff, the irrepressible Lum & Abner. (Photo: CBS.)

The Pine Ridge philosophickers, unafraid to step just slightly beyond their serial element for the right occasion, have just that in this holiday classic. And if you think you can smell the potbelly stove burning, hear the occasional clatter of store wares, or even sense what Gerald Nachman would call a horsefly crawling across a sack of feed, when you listen to this quiet, rustic, but hardly dull-witted rural slice-of-life, just wait until you smell and sense the snow and the occasional brisk, slicing shaft of wind tonight.

Grandpap (Norris Goff, who also plays Abner) asks Lum (Chester Lauck, who also plays Doc) and Abner to drag through the snow with him, following the eastern star, bringing supplies for a couple expecting a child and helping them find another place to stay, after Doc reveals the couple is in an abandoned barn, with the three waiting outside to toast the coming of 1939 as Doc arranges and brings supplies for the couple—a carpenter and his wife.

We try,” co-creator Chester Lauck has told Radio Guide, “to make our program amusing through the situations we build up rather than through the ignorance or obtuseness of any character.” And if you’re looking for an individual episode that proves every word he said is true, you’ll find one right here.

Announcer: Carlton Brickert. Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff.

 

FURTHER CHANNEL SURFING . . .

Comedy

The Great Gildersleeve: Christmas at Home (NBC, 1945)—Gildy (Harold Peary) has a problem the day before Christmas—hiding the presents in any spot in the house Leroy (Walter Tetley) hasn’t discovered first, assuming such a spot can be found. What you’d expect. Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Marjorie: Lurene Tuttle. Hooker: Earle Ross. Floyd: Arthur Q. Bryan. Peavy: Richard LeGrand. Writers: Sam Moore, John Whedon.

The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny: The English Butler (NBC, 1945)—Reciprocating for a dinner invitation he received a fortnight earlier, Jack (Benny) invites Ronald Colman and his wife, Benita Hume Colman (as themselves) for dinner—assuming Colman gets over his trepidation about the evening and Jack can get the butler he hired for the night to take it all seriously. In anyone else’s hands . . . Cast: Mary Livingstone, Eddie Anderson, Dennis Day, Phil Harris, Mel Blanc, Don Wilson. Music: Phil Harris Orchestra, Dennis Day. Writers: George Balzar, Sam Perrin, Milt Josefsberg.

The Aldrich Family: Christmas Program (NBC, 1948)—It’s beginning to look a lot like a pain in the rump roast to find a few too many classic radio holiday episodes called, “Christmas Program” or “Christmas Show.” But here ’tis the week before Christmas, and all through the house, Sam (House Jameson) thinks Henry (Ezra Stone) is being solicitous enough of late to suggest an ulterior yuletide motive; Alice (Katherine Raht) thinks Sam’s being too suspicious for his own good; and, Hen-reeeeeee!  really  is  maneuvering for a certain Christmas present—unaware that his parents think he’s angling for something else. For diehard fans only. Homer: Jackie Kelk. Announcer: Hugh James. Music: Jack Miller. Writers: Norman Tokar (who once played Henry when Ezra Stone went off to World War II, before he himself went into the Signal Corps!), Ed Jurist.

 

Mystery/Thriller

Suspense: Back for Christmas (CBS, 1943)—The Christmas spirit of a henpecked botanist (Peter Lorre) with a particular passion for experiments with home-grown orchids is compromised by his impatient wife, who has little use for his passion and less patience to get aboard their planned holiday cruise. Edgily pleasant yarn. Additional cast: Unidentified. The Man in Black: Possibly Joseph Kearns. Music: Bernard Herrmann. Director: William Spier. Writer: John Collier.

 

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