Monday, August 4, 2008

Goodbye, city life

Perusing the Athens Banner-Herald yesterday afternoon, I came across this review by Wayne Ford for a new book written by Tim Hollis entitled Ain’t That a Knee-Slapper: Rural Comedy in the Twentieth Century. It focuses a great deal on the popular “country comedy” series of the 1960s and early 1970s, including the Paul Henning trilogy of The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres.

It’s an article that worth a quick once-over though Hollis got a few of the facts wrong. He states “rural comedy in the electronic media goes back to the radio days of the 1920s with characters like Lum and Abner to the early theater films like ‘Li'l Abner.’” Li’l Abner was theatrically released in 1940, and as for the boys down in Pine Ridge, their earliest radio appearance was in 1931.

The bulk of Ford’s article is devoted to an interview with Tom “Eb” Lester, who seems to have done all right for himself in life by playing a wide-eyed bumpkin in one of television’s funniest sitcoms, so I say more power to him. I hate to admit it, but this sounds like a book I’d certainly want to peruse—the price tag is a bit steep, but Amazon has it marked down to $19.00. (Amazon also mentions that the author’s scope is a little broader than Ford mentions in his article; the book also discusses the radio shows of Bob Burns and Judy Canova as well as The Real McCoys.)

I do have a birthday coming up…perhaps I’ll attach this to my wishlist
(NOTE: In the comments section below, "Uncle" Donnie Pitchford clears up the situation surrounding the errors I mention in the post--I mistakenly attributed them to Tim Hollis without fully checking the facts.)


Pam said...

Am I the only one who finds the Wish List slayingly funny?

Sorry, Ivan, but that put me on the floor.

Donnie Pitchford said...

Hi, Ivan!

I was a little stunned to think that Tim Hollis might have made errors on two topics - Lum and Abner and Li'l Abner. 25 years ago, Tim contacted me for the first time and by 1984 the National Lum and Abner Society was formed. That is the OTR organization that pulled together a lot of research on L&A, published a journal until just 2007, and still exists as a web-based club. Tim is one of the most knowledgeable scholars on L&A. He also is a great fan of Li'l Abner.

I asked him about this post, and sent him the link. He checked it and said he was apparently misquoted by the writer of the article.

I contributed information, photos, audio and video to the project and have since read the book and I can attest that Tim's research is very accurate.

I just wanted to be sure your readers knew this. I think they would love this book.


Donnie Pitchford / NLAS

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...


Thanks a heap for the clarification on the fact, I may have been a little remiss in not asking Mr. Ford whether he did the dating on those or was it Tim. And based on your recommendation, the book sounds like something I'm going to have to add to the dusty TDOY archives very soon.

Wonderful world!

Donnie Pitchford said...


No problem! I knew there was nothing negative meant by the remarks. Tim knew that too. Tim is a walking L&A encyclopedia!

You'll enjoy his book!

"Wonderful World" - "Oh, what a BEAUTY DAY!"