Monday, July 9, 2012

Mayberry Mondays #48: “The Health Fund” (03/16/70, prod. no. 0223)

In an effort to shed its reputation as a silly sitcom where farmers don’t farm and fix-it men do nothing of the kind, Mayberry R.F.D. makes an auspicious bid for relevancy in this week’s installment of Mayberry Mondays, “The Health Fund.”  The subject matter of this episode, healthcare, will prove quite germane when you consider the recent raging political debate…and besides, village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) makes a triumphant return to the show this week, so I’m sure all you Goob fans are high-fiving one another with gleeful abandon.

In fact, it’s the Goob himself whom we first spot after the familiar opening credits, helping himself to a couple of cold ones (and I don’t mean root beer…these beverages are on tap!) and some pretzels with which to wash them down.  He has also traded his traditional “Jughead” hat for a snazzy fez…and then we will soon learn that everyone is wearing one: poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer-turned-city-council-head Sam Jones (Ken Berry), pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) and fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman).  There are several other people present at this little conclave, but the only one you’ll recognize as having been on the show previously is dyspeptic drugstore owner Elmo (Vince Barnett).  By the way—it’s not a Shriner’s convention or a gathering of the Sons of the Desert (which would be a lot cooler if it was), but a meeting of the Finance Committee of Mayberry’s The Royal Order of the Golden Door to Good Fellowship.  (Later on the program, the members will attempt to send Kathleen Turner back to 1986.)



HOWARD (droning): …and these figures have all been double-checked by our accountant…so as treasurer of this lodge, The Royal Order of the Golden Door to Good Fellowship, I submit this report to the Finance Committee with my signature affixed thereto as witnessed my hand and sealed this date, Howard W. Sprague…

I’m curious as to what the “W” stands for—any Mayberry trivia experts who have the answer, the comments section awaits.  After Howard has finished his spiel, he sits down—prompting Goober to crack: “Boy…I bet they signed the Declaration of Independence with less fuss than that.”

“Yes, and with fewer witticisms from the sidelines, I might add,” responds Howard prissily.



SAM (getting to his feet): I’m sure we…we all appreciate the effort that goes into your financial reports, Howard…
HOWARD: Hmm…
(The other members murmur “Right, Howard” in agreement)
SAM: Okay…now…uh…last week I worked out the details of our new health plan with Ben Hobbs…and he said we could put it into effect right away…
HOWARD: Oh!  (To the others) Hey, that’s great, huh?
SAM: Uh…are there any questions?

I don’t have a list of the officers in this lodge handy, but it looks like the members wisely chose Sam to be in charge…either because he’s the smartest among them or because they knew he had plenty of free time on his hands with that pretend farm of his.



EMMETT: How much d’ya figure that’ll increase the dues?

Emmett is concerned about the tariff…color me stunned.

SAM: Uh…just eight dollars a month, Emmett…and it’ll really be worth it, too…you see, this way the lodge will be insuring its members against the expense of unexpected illness or accident…and instead of signing up for a big outside insurance plan, the lodge itself can afford to pay the doctor’s bills and the hospital expenses…
GOOBER (getting Sam’s attention): Hey…hey…what if I pay into the plan, and don’t get to use it?  I mean, with my kinda luck I might never get sick at all!  (He breaks out into a combination of braying laugh and idiotic grin)
SAM (chuckling): Well, that’s just the chance you’ll have to take, Goob…


“That’s why they call it insurance, pudding head.”

HOWARD: Well…since a majority of the members voted for it at the last general meeting…and since the figures seem to check out the way we expected, I move we go ahead with it…
SAM: Mm…that’s what we figured, so Ben is mailing out the applications and assessment forms tomorrow…
EMMETT: Well, it sounds like a good thing for me all right…workin’ in a fix-it shop’s a pretty hazardous occupation…

If one actually worked in a fix-it shop.  I think Emmett’s pretty safe on that score.  (And if you don’t believe me, you’ll recall the one time Emmett did get hurt it was because he took a spill into an automobile repair pit in “Emmett Takes a Fall.”)  “Yeah…with you it sure is,” cracks Howard, receiving some appreciative laughter from the rest of the members.  Having worked out the details on the health plan, Sam moves that the Finance Committee meeting adjourn so that they can go watch nudie movies in the back, and Goober seconds the motion with: “Witness my hand and sealed and all that kind of stuff.”

The scene then shifts to the Mayberry council office, where Sam hopes to avoid any farm work by jawing with Elmo.

ELMO: Yeah, one time when I had this sporting goods store in Raleigh…a weak, skinny fella came in and ordered a weight-lifting set on time…five dollars a week…believe me, Sam—I never did that again…
SAM: You didn’t, huh?
ELMO: No, sir…by the time he was six weeks behind in his payments, he had so many muscles I was afraid to ask him for the money!

Boy, the hours just fly on by.  About this time, Howard ducks out on his soul-sucking government job to join in the exchange.

HOWARD: Say…could I speak to you a minute, Sam?
SAM: Oh…sure, Howard…
HOWARD: I…uh…I guess it actually comes under the heading of lodge business
SAM: Mm-hmm…yeah, go ahead…
HOWARD: Well…it’s about my deviated septum…
ELMO: Are you havin’ car trouble again, Howard?

Normally, having Elmo around means I’ll be tee-heeing more than usual.  But this is not one of those times.

HOWARD: Elmo, the septum is the nasal cartilage that divides the two halves of the nose…and if your septum’s deviated like mine, well, it blocks the one side and interferes with your breathing…
SAM: Yeah…I just don’t understand how this comes under the heading of ‘lodge business,’ Howard…

“Also, I’d really rather not hear you prattle on about your health issues.”

HOWARD: Well, I just came from Doc Belding’s office…and…and he advises I have an operation to correct the condition…and inasmuch, you know, as the lodge health plan went into effect last week…well, I figure I’d take advantage of it to cover my expenses…

I would assume that as an employee of the county, Howard is already covered by an insurance plan…that recognizes that deviated septum as a pre-existing condition.  That Howard is one clever essobee.

SAM: Oh, yeah…well, I’m glad it’s there to help you, Howard…
ELMO: You mean you’re gonna have your nose operated on now?
HOWARD: Yeah!
ELMO: Hmm…well, that’s what I call a pretty obligin’ nose
HOWARD: What do you mean, obliging, Elmo?
ELMO: Well…actin’ up right after we okayed the health plan…

Elmo might look like a small-town rube (who sounds strangely like he’s from the Bronx) but he’s a little smarter than you’d think, and is obviously onto Howard’s scheme.

SAM: Uh…is this a very…uh…serious operation, Howard?
HOWARD: Oh, no…no…I’ll just be in the hospital twenty-four hours…actually, I’ve had this condition off-and-on for years now…

Ba-zinga!  I called it.

HOWARD: …you know…but Doc Belding says my various allergies have aggravated it to the point where he thinks I should have it taken care of…
SAM: Yeah…well…fine…I’ll see to it that the health plan takes care of the bill…

Howard is going to be admitted to the hospital in Siler City the next afternoon at 3pm, so Sam volunteers to drive him over.  As Howard prepares to go back to work (snicker), Elmo delivers the final riposte: “Yes, sir…most obligin’ nose I ever heard of.”

Naturally, in a town the size of Mayberry, it does not take long before news of Howard’s scheme to soak the health plan leaks out…courtesy of what I’ll refer to as Radio Free Elmo:

ELMO: Emmett, I’m not kiddin’ you…Howard and his nose are going into the hospital today!

Well, I can’t imagine a scenario where the two of them would go separately.  But I digress.  Elmo is concerned that Howard will “probably use up all the money we got,” and so Emmett does what anyone in that situation would do…


…he runs and tells Goober.

EMMETT: You remember at the meetin’ how anxious he was to get that fund started?
GOOBER: I sure do…boy, he’s really got his nerve…
EMMETT: It just goes to show how little you know about a person…
GOOBER: You say his septum is deviated?
EMMETT: Well, that’s what Elmo said…
GOOBER: Where is it deviated?
EMMETT: How do I know?
GOOBER: Well, it sure don’t show

Ah, Mayberry at its finest—ignorance and paranoia have gripped the town to produce classic TV comedy.  Emmett suggests that he and Goober go over to Howard’s to “get to the bottom of this,” which is where we find Howard, his nose, and Sam…the latter two watching as Howard packs a few things for his overnight stay.   We also learn why Sam was so anxious to help Howard out by driving him to the hospital—bakery doyenne Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka) volunteers there on Thursdays.  (Sam…you hound…)

SAM: …I’m sure she can bring you any extra items you might need…
HOWARD: Oh, gee…that’s great!  You know, there’s nobody more welcome at a time like this than an angel of mercy…

And that’s pretty much what I say whenever Millie appears on screen…though I put a little Roy Orbison into it (“Mercy!”).  The doorbell then rings, signaling the arrival of two idiots.

HOWARD: Hi there, fellas!  Gee, this is certainly nice of you to drop by…I mean, it’s very thoughtful of you to be so concerned about me at a time like this…

“Put a sock in it, Nasal Hazel…”

EMMETT: Never mind the small talk, Howard…what kind of racket are you tryin’ to pull on us?
HOWARD: What do you mean, what kind of a racket am I trying to pull?
GOOBER: You know what he means!  Double-crossin’ us with your deviated whatever it is…
HOWARD: I’m only trying to take advantage of the new health plan…
GOOBER: I’ll say!
EMMETT: You’re takin’ advantage of forty-six of your own lodge brothers…that’s what you’re takin’ advantage of!
GOOBER: Your nose looks all right to me!

Usually, in conflicts like this, Sam attempts to be the adult in this situation…and when that does happen, no further evidence is needed that he’s an ineffectual parent.  “My deviated septum isn’t something I just dreamed up,” Howard tries to explain. “It’s a long-standing complaint!”

“Well, why can’t you just keep on complainin’?” counters Goober.

HOWARD (with finality): Because my allergies flared up this week and an operation was indicated…
EMMETT: I’ll bet your allergies wouldn’t have flared up if it hadn’t been for our health fund!
SAM: Oh, come on now, Emmett…
HOWARD: Oh…this whole thing is just a gross fabrication—is that what you’re implying?
GOOBER: No, he ain’t implyin’ anythin’…he’s just sayin’ flat out that you’re a crook!

Sam tries once more to get the kids to stop kicking his seat while he’s driving, but it’s an exercise in futility.  Howard lays down the law: “Come on, Sam—I’m not going to stay here and listen to any more of this…I need an operation, I’m covered by the health plan, and I’m due at the hospital at three o’clock!”

SAM: The car’s outside here, Howard…
EMMETT: Is this the new hospital at Siler City or the old one?
HOWARD: What’s it to you?
EMMETT: Because me and Goober are goin’ over there with ya…
GOOBER: Hey, that’s a good idea!  (Quietly, to Emmett) Why are we going?
EMMETT: Because it’d be just like him to try and stick us for a private room!

A furious exchange of “Oh yeah?  Yeah!” ensues, and what results is an accidental opening of Howard’s suitcase, which spills the contents all over the floor in the foray.  Let us depart from these slapstick shenanigans and focus on one of the fine character thespians that will be gracing this episode this week:


This reception nurse (who is referred to by Millie later as “Mrs. Saunders”) is played by OTR veteran Jeanne Bates, making her second and final appearance on R.F.D…her first was in the previously discussed “Palm Springs Cowboy,” a sweetly nostalgic but also deadly dull episode that also guest starred former B-western crooner Dick Foran.



SAUNDERS: …and your operation is scheduled for five o’clock
HOWARD: Thank you, miss…
SAM: Oh, and the bill is going to be paid by our Mayberry Lodge health fund…
SAUNDERS: I understand…
SAM: Yes…
EMMETT: That’s one day only!
HOWARD: She knows that, Emmett…
GOOBER (to the nurse): Is that clock right?
SAUNDERS (checking her watch and the clock): Yes, it is…
GOOBER: Well, it’s 3:30…what time is checkout?
SAM: Goob…
SAUNDERS: Well, a full day would end at three…
EMMETT: Are meals included with the room?  You know, American plan…?
SAUNDERS: Yes, the meals are included!


I like how Jeanne says that last line…kind of in a “What are you, an idiot?” fashion.  The door to a nearby elevator opens, and as is so often the case on sitcoms, Howard’s surgeon, Dr. Wilson conveniently emerges.


Yes, it’s one of TV and movies’ most dependable character actors, Frank Wilcox…a performer you might instantly recognize as John Brewster, the oil company president who was tangentially responsible for bringing the Clampett family to the big city on the sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies—Wilcox was a favorite of writer-producer Paul Henning, who also used the actor on George Burns & Gracie Allen’s TV show as well as Petticoat Junction.  He also presided over several cases on Perry Mason, and his most prominent TV role was as Beecher Asbury on The Untouchables…which means that it would not be beyond the realm of possibility some night to catch Wilcox on Mason on Me-TV…and then see him an hour afterward on Untouchables.  (Mind blowing…isn’t it?)

HOWARD: Dr. Wilson…?
DR. WILSON: Well!  How are you, Mr. Sprague?  Everything’s set for five o’clock…should go off smooth as clockwork…
HOWARD: Fine…fine…uh, Doctor—this is my friend, Sam Jones…he’s the head of town council over in Mayberry…

Notice that Howard does not introduce Sam as a “farmer.”

SAM (shaking Wilson’s hand): Nice to meet you, doctor…Dr. Belding speaks of you often…
DR. WILSON: Oh, Wallace is an old friend…
SAM: Uh huh…
(There is a slight pause, during which Howard sees they’ve been joined by the Idiot Brothers.)
HOWARD: Ah…and this is Emmett Clark and…Goober Pyle…Dr. Wilson
DR. WILSON (shaking both of their hands): How are you, gentlemen?
GOOBER: We’re members of the lodge that’s payin’ for this holdup…

Every episode…one laugh-out-loud moment.

EMMETT: Do you do many of these deviated things, Doctor?
DR. WILSON: Well…no…I-I wouldn’t say many
EMMETT: What do you think the whole deal will run?
GOOBER: In round figures…
SAM: Please
DR. WILSON: Well, I…I’m sure the young lady at the desk can tell you the exact cost of the room, the operating facilities, the X-rays and the rest…
GOOBER: I don’t suppose you could skip the X-rays…just kinda feel around in there for what you’re lookin’ for…

Howard tells Goober in short sentences and easy-to-understand words that Dr. Wilson is a very busy man, and that he has precious little time to ponder the concept of two chimpanzees wearing clothing and speaking in semi-complete sentences.  Okay, I might be exaggerating here a tad but Dr. Wilson does have to be running along, and while he shakes hands again with Sam as he is pleased to have made his acquaintance, he makes a point to steer clear of Messrs. Clark and Pyle in a way that also made me laugh out loud.

SAM (exasperated and with slightly gritted teeth): Did you guys have to ask him all those questions?
EMMETT: Listen…we just wanna make sure the lodge is gettin’ a fair shake…there’s a lot of money ridin’ on this operation!

Their conversation is interrupted by another nurse played by actress Ceil Cabot, another R.F.D. alumnus (she played a secretary in “Miss Farmerette”)…but was perhaps best known before her passing in 2000 as the wife of comedian-magician Carl Ballantine of Car 54 and McHale’s Navy.  She will be showing Howard to his room, and so he says his goodbyes to Sam, who promises Howard he’ll stop by and see him tomorrow.  Howard gives both Emmett and Goober The Look, and as the scene fades the three of them (Emmett, Goober and Sam) are still arguing.

Ah, faith and begorrah…’tis the foine countenance of Millicent Swanson herself.  She’s stopped off to have a chat with Mrs. Saunders.



SAUNDERS: Morning, Millie…did you just get here?
MILLIE: Uh-huh…how’s Mr. Sprague in 214?
SAUNDERS: Well, the operation went well and he had a good night…in fact, Mr. Jones is visiting him right now…
MILLIE: Oh!  I’ll go up and see if he needs anything…

The scene then shifts to Howard’s room…which he’s sharing with another patient named “Hazlett,” who is “watching television in the lounge, I think,” Howard tells Sam when he inquires as to his whereabouts.  Howard is sitting up in bed, and has a rather pronounced bandage wrapped around his honker.

SAM: And the operation went okay, eh?
HOWARD: Oh, yeah…great…terrific…yeah…
SAM: Good…
HOWARD: Dr. Wilson gave me a local anesthetic, you know…and I was able to observe the whole procedure…oh, it was very dramatic—lights overhead, and everything…you know… (He chuckles) Yeah…I had two OR’s…
SAM: OR’s?
HOWARD: Operating room nurses…that’s hospital terminology…

There is a rap at the door, and Millie wheels in her cart containing a few books.

MILLIE: There he is…
HOWARD: Yeah…
(Millie, Howard and Sam all laugh)
MILLIE (giggling): Aw…Howard, you look great!
HOWARD: Well, I feel great!  The operation couldn’t have gone better…you know, Dr. Wilson said I had one of the most interesting malformations of the nasal cartilage he’d ever seen!
SAM: Wow!
HOWARD: He may even write a paper on it!  Huh?
MILLIE: Really!
HOWARD: Yeah!  Well, we never know when fate may suddenly descend upon us!

Sam tells Howard he just wanted to stop by and see how he was doing…and that he’ll be by again by three o’clock.  In the meantime, candy striper Millie has brought the hospital library for Howard to peruse:

HOWARD: Oh…let’s see what you got there…Raintree CountyHistoric Sea BattlesAnthony AdverseSilas Marner…and The Love Goddess, huh?
MILLIE: Right…
HOWARD: Well…
MILLIE: Take your choice!
HOWARD: I read Silas Marner

Howard seems like the kind of guy who would have read Silas Marner even if it wasn’t assigned in high school English.

HOWARD: …and…uh…Anthony AdverseRaintree CountyHistoric Sea Battles…I think I read those, too…heh heh…well…what’s that leave us with here…The Love Goddess, huh…heh heh… (As he flips through the pages, his eyes widen) Well, I think I’ll take this…I don’t think I’ll be doing much reading, but I’ll keep it anyway…
MILLIE: Well, I’ll drop in later…
HOWARD: Okay…bye bye…


He waits for Millie to leave the room, and then he dives into that smutty bit o’prose like a hungry man on barbecued ribs.  Now…last week, frequent TDOY commenter Chris Vosburg posited as to whether or not Emmett the Fix-It Man has ever actually repaired anything in Mayberry—and though I will probably have to go back and re-watch some of these episodes, I thought it might make a nice replacement for the Bee-o-Meter™ when we retire that at the end of the second season.  So for the benefit of you who’d like to keep score…Emmett is this close to repairing a bicycle…

GOOBER (coming into the fix-it shop): Emmett!


Oooh…missed it by that much…

EMMETT: What?
GOOBER: Emmett, I wanna talk to ya…I had a terrible thought in the middle of the night about Howard…
EMMETT: You did?
GOOBER: I lay there awake, thinkin’ how he’s treatin’ himself to this operation at our expense…and you know what he might do, livin’ high on the hog that way?
EMMETT: No…what?
GOOBER: Well, he just might not wanna leave…I mean, lyin’ in there in a comfortable bed with them pretty nurses waitin’ on him…

Dude, you’ve been huffing that brake fluid again.  Have you ever been admitted to a hospital?  My sister’s old futon was more comfortable than those beds they strap you in.  And I don’t care if the nurses are former Playboy models…no amount of beauty or female pulchritude would make me stay longer than necessary.  But both Emmett and Goober will never be mistaken for mental giants, and it doesn’t take long to convince themselves that Howard is going to make a vacation out of his stay: “When a fellow gets usta throwin’ other people’s money around, there’s no tellin’ where he might stop,” intones Goober.

“You know…to play it safe…I think we better be over there when he gets out this afternoon,” Emmett says firmly…and so the two of them rush out of the shop, leaving the bike unfixed and unattended.  (It would pain me if some child were to happen upon it and, thinking the stories they’ve heard about Emmett true, ends up in a horribly disfiguring crash after trying to ride that Bicycle of Death.)  Back to Howard’s hospital room:

HOWARD: Yeah…the head OR told me mine was one of the few operations for deviated septum ever performed in this hospital…
HAZLETT: Oh? That’s very…very interesting…


As you can see, Mr. Hazlett has returned from his television-watching sojourn and is now resting comfortably reading a newspaper and listening to the world’s most boring individual.  He will no doubt soon sprint back to the TV room, but before he does I will inform you that he is being played by character actor John Harmon, a movie and TV veteran whose credits include episodes of Maverick, Perry Mason, The Rifleman (he had a recurring role as the hotel clerk), Bonanza, The Virginian and The Big Valley.  His movies include A Slight Case of Murder, King of the Underworld and the 1940 Green Hornet serial—look for him as “Lefty Bates” when we get to Chapter 12 on Serial Saturdays.  (Harmon also has the distinction of appearing in a 2005 movie, The Naked Monster, despite having passed away twenty years earlier…so either the IMDb is wrong…or his character, Mr. Lipschitz, is a brain-eating zombie.)

HOWARD: Heh heh…yours was just a run-of-the-mill appendectomy, wasn’t it?
HAZLETT: Well, they…just did it four days ago…I’ll be goin’ home tomorrow…
HOWARD: Oh, good…good…I’m checking out today myself…
HAZLETT: Oh?
HOWARD: Yeah…in a… (He looks at his watch) In about a half an hour, three o’clock…that’s regular checkout time…

So to pass the time between checkout, Howard gets chatty with Mr. Hazlett about how he knew he had appendicitis.  It started with a pain in his right side, which he at first thought might be indigestion…and then it hit him all of a sudden, and they had to rush him to Siler City Memorial in an ambulance.  Besides the pain, of course, there’s also tenderness and rigidity…accompanied by a fever.

Howard starts to fidget in his bed.  “Does it seem kind of warm in here to you?” he asks his roommate.  Howard feels feverish, and his side feels as if he has a little tenderness and rigidity.  A nurse enters the room.

NURSE: Hi, Mr. Sprague…well, it’s almost three o’clock…would you like to get dressed, and I’ll tell the office you’re leaving…
HOWARD: Nurse…I’d like to see Dr. Wilson…
NURSE: Oh, I’m sorry…Dr, Wilson hasn’t come in yet…
HOWARD: Then I’m not leaving!
NURSE: What?
HOWARD: I’m not leaving this hospital!  I have appendicitis!

Cue the sad trombone!  And now this word from J-E-L-L-O…

Back from commercial, Emmett and Goober burst into Howard’s room, where Sam and Millie are standing near his bed…and the hilarity ensues…

EMMETT: Start loadin’ his stuff, Goober…
GOOBER: Right…
EMMETT (throwing Howard’s clothes down on the bed): Here you go, Howard…put your clothes on and let’s get out of here…Millie, I think you’d better wait out in the hall…
HOWARD: Wait a minute…wait a minute…
EMMETT: Look…if we’re not out of here in five minutes, we get stuck for another day!  Come on, get up!
(Emmett pulls away Howard’s bed clothing, who snatches it back)
HOWARD: Let go of my sheet!
SAM: Emmett…he’s not leaving!
GOOBER: Whaddya mean, he’s not leavin’?!!
HOWARD: I’m not leaving until I see Dr. Wilson!
EMMETT: You’ve already seen Dr. Wilson…seventy-five dollars worth!  Now, come on…get out of that bed this minute!


For the record, your basic septoplasty (deviated septum surgery) will run you on average about $2000 today, not including hospital stay and other niceties.  (I learned this from the best-selling reference work Stacia Jones’ Big Book of Scary Medical Stuff.)

MILLIE: Emmett Clark, that’s no way to treat a man who may have appendicitis!
GOOBER: Appendicitis?
MILLIE: Yes!
SAM: That’s right…that’s right…Howard thinks he has the symptoms and he’s not leaving here until Dr. Wilson checks him over…now, come on…
EMMETT: Listen…it’s our money this freeloader’s throwin’ around…if he thinks he’s got appendicitis, he’s gonna have to find himself another patsy!  (Shaking a finger at Howard) I’ll give you two minutes to get out of here!
HOWARD: Don’t bump my nose!
GOOBER: I got his stuff all packed!
SAM: Come on, you guys—will you cut it out?!!
MILLIE: Emmett, get out of here or I’m going to call the head nurse!!
EMMETT (to Howard): Look…look…you’re the treasurer of this club…if you’re not out of that bed in one minute, I’ll see that you’re impeached for embezzlement of funds!  Now, come on—out of there!
(The curtain behind Sam and Millie is pulled back to reveal Mr. Hazlett)
HAZLETT: Hey!  Will you please be a little quiet…my doctor wants me to get some rest!

Sam…it is time for you to ride herd on these two.  Get into punishing-that-idiot-kid-of-yours mode.

SAM: Wait a minute, you guys!  Now Howard came here for a legitimate purpose under the lodge health fund…and if there is any suspicion of appendicitis or any other illness, that’s covered, too!  (Emmett and Goober start to protest, and Sam’s voice gets louder) Now we are all going to get out of here and leave him alone!


I love this screen cap.  (“The two of you will go directly to bed after supper…without pudding!”)

SAM: …and as soon as Dr. Wilson checks him over, then he’ll decide what’s going to be done…
MILLIE: Now everybody out of here…out!!!
EMMETT (huffily): Come on, Goober…

Sam and Millie get Howard sufficiently calmed down, telling him the doctor will be there soon to check him out.  As they leave, Hazlett then draws his curtain again and asks Howard: “What did you say the name of that lodge was you people all belong to?”


“The Royal Order…of the Golden Door…to Good Fellowship,” responds Howard sadly.

In a scene shift, Millie is once at again at Mrs. Saunders’ reception desk…this time with a bouquet of flowers for another patient, a “Mrs. Harrison.”  Millie asks if Dr. Wilson’s been in yet, and is told that he’s with Howard in Room 214 right now.

DR. WILSON: Well no, Mr. Sprague…after examining you, I-I really don’t think we have a case of appendicitis…
HOWARD: Well, gee, Doctor…I felt around down there till I was black-and-blue…and there was definitely pain…definitely pain, and sensitivity, too…
DR. WILSON: Oh, I don’t doubt that in the least…but with Mr. Hazlett here describing his symptoms to you in detail…I really think that we’re dealing with a…with a psychosomatic reaction…that’s not at all uncommon with a person who’s highly suggestible…

That’s the most accurate diagnosis you’ll ever make in your entire medical career, Doc.

HOWARD (sheepishly): Well, I guess I am rather sensitive, Doc…
DR. WILSON: In view of your state of mind, and to be absolutely on the safe side…I’m going to order a couple of conclusive lab tests that may back up my diagnosis…you just rest comfortably here tonight and we’ll have the results in the morning…

Howard apologizes for being such a schmuck, and before leaving to get in nine holes Wilson suggests that in further conversations with Hazlett, the two men stick to safe areas of discussion like the weather.  Now, staying an extra night is a bit of a financial burden that the lodge hadn’t quite figured on vis-à-vis the health fund…but if I know my Mayberry characters, I’m sure they’re all copacetic with this turn of events.

ELMO: Sam, I want an answer, and I want a straight answer…
SAM: All right, Elmo…
ELMO: Is the health fund wiped out, or ain’t it?
(The others begin to argue in agreement)
SAM: No…no!  It’s not wiped out…no, it is not wiped out…it’s…it’s badly bruised, yeah…
ELMO: Well, I move we discontinue it if this is the way it’s gonna work out…
GOOBER: That’s all right for you, with Medicare three years away!

Ah, the lament of the disgruntled baby boomer.  “You greedy geezers!”

EMMETT: Yeah!  You old geezers got nothin’ to worry about!

Geezer…heal thyself…

SAM: Come on, Emmett…we…
ELMO (wagging his finger at Emmett): Watch out with that geezer talk!


“Or I’ll beat your ass to death with my walker!”

SAM: Elmo…come on, you guys…we can take all this up at the next general meeting…right now, it’s my duty to inform this committee that the first beneficiary of our new health plan, Howard Sprague, is recovering nicely in the Siler City Hospital from his nose operation…

“He will also need to be called ‘Roberta’ from now on.”

GOOBER: Well, I’d like to make a motion that if Howard don’t have appendicitis like he says…then the lodge shouldn’t pay for the extra day—right?
EMMETT: I second the motion!
SAM: Well, I think our first concern should be for Howard’s wellbeing!  Any discussion of finances can wait at least until he’s out of the hospital… (The others begin to argue strenuously, so Sam slams down the gavel) Meeting adjourned!

Well!  It’s good to be the king.  Howard is out of the hospital, and although his bazoo is still swathed in bandages he appears to be fit as a fiddle, as he discusses the past nineteen minutes of hilarity with Sam.

SAM: How long are you going to have to keep that bandage on?
HOWARD: Oh, just a couple more days…
SAM: Uh-huh…well, you…you look great!
HOWARD: I know!  (He laughs)
(Goober and Emmett storm into the office)
SAM: Oh…hey, Goob…Emmett…
GOOBER (giving Howard the once-over): Well…we heard you was out of the hospital…
EMMETT (sarcastically): Yeah…are you sure you got enough rest?
SAM: Oh, boy…here we go again…
HOWARD: Don’t pay any attention to them, Sam…they’re always going to be thinking that I was stealing from them…
GOOBER (to Emmett): Seventy-five dollars for a nose operation…he don’t even talk any different!

Okay…I have to admit that was a beauty.

HOWARD: The operation didn’t have anything to do with the way I talk…
GOOBER: Well, what we want to talk to you about is that extra day…
HOWARD: Aw, now…
EMMETT: Look…that appendicitis you had was just imaginary
GOOBER: And we claim you owe the lodge a refund!
HOWARD: I’ll admit my symptoms were psychosomatic, but that didn’t make them any the less real
GOOBER: That’s what you say…
HOWARD: Well, even the doctor himself wasn’t sure until he made the tests!
SAM: Look, it’s true…it’s absolutely true that a psychosomatic illness can be exactly the same as the real thing…

This leads to an argument that, in a nutshell, basically involves Goober and Emmett telling Sam and Howard they’re full of sh*t.  As Sam argues that it’s possible for a person to experience the symptoms of having, say, a case of hives, Goober adamantly refuses to take stock in such a notion…all the while scratching himself without noticing.

Not much of a coda on this one—Goober and Emmett admit that they were complete wankers with regards to Howard’s situation, and apologize as such—so I’ll cut to the quick and crank up the ol’ Thrilling Days of Yesteryear Bee-o-Meter™. Which does not budge an inch from last week’s tally of ten appearances for the second season, and a grand total of twenty-two show-ups overall.  We will be without Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (Frances Bavier) in next week’s edition of Mayberry Mondays as well…a favorite episode of mine entitled “The Mayberry Float.”

I have two things I need to mention before I call it a night.  According to the (always reliable) IMDb, character actress Peg Shirley supposedly had a small role in this episode as a nurse…and if this is the case, it would make her second appearance on R.F.D.; the first being a first season episode entitled “Sam the Expert Farmer” (oh, the irony is positively delicious) in which she plays a girlfriend of Goober’s who appears to be a bit dykish.  It’s possible that Shirley is in “Health Fund,” and that her part ended up on the snipped-for-syndication floor…but her name doesn’t appear in the closing credits, and given the IMDb’s reputation for accuracy (let’s be honest—when was the last time you saw a statement from an IMDb representative that read: “Boy, did we screw that one up!”) I am going to just assume they’re smoking rope.

Last week, fans of classic television and movies saw the flag at Mayberry’s sheriff’s office lowered to half-staff when the star of the original series about that town, Andy Griffith, passed on at the age of 86.  It’s no secret on this blog that despite my tendency to mock the weak-as-water spin-off that sprung from The Andy Griffith Show, I cherish and revere the original series…and I do the same for its star.  Because I was able to establish a connection between Andy and radio, I worked up a little tribute over at my other home at the Radio Spirits blog, and while there’s nothing set in stone yet there are some discussions going on about releasing some of the shows he hosted as the Tuesday night M.C. of the 1979-80 Sears/Mutual Radio Theater.  My BBFF Stacia also sent me an e-mail letting me know that The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ will toast the sage of Mount Airy, NC with a four-film tribute on Wednesday, July 18:

08:00pm A Face in the Crowd (1957)
10:15pm No Time for Sergeants (1958)
12:30am Hearts of the West (1975)
02:15am Onionhead (1958)

Andrew Samuel Griffith was mellow before the word was in vogue, and with his passing, a part of my childhood has disappeared.  R.I.P., Andy…you will be missed.

8 comments:

rockfish said...

Who said cornpone sitcoms can't be hilarous and relevant at the same time?! The echo chamber mutterings of Deliverance's mutt and jeff, goober and emmitt, was carved wickedly funny with your own asides. Its almost like I can envision that, following their dressing down by the good doctor, the pair would ensconce to Emmitt's shop where they'd toss monkey feces at each other while accidentally creating a fresco wall mural to Floyd Lawson. Was the Love God a sly tribute to Don Knotts' and Nate Hiken's underappreciated film?
While the Bea o'meter will see limited action, do we have a visit from Andy Taylor on the near horizon? My condolences for the loss of that country sage gentleman, Andy Griffith. His warm, effervescent charm translated well here in Canada and while he gingerly stepped aside often to let the varied cast of characters collect the laughs, there was no denying who brought the glue and genuine character to the show.

Also, a belated thanks on the double-dose of Roseanne, received last week after Canada Post finished examining the parcel for dirty pictures and all. It's a welcome addition to the Rockfish library!

Stacia said...

Sam moves that the Finance Committee meeting adjourn so that they can go watch nudie movies in the back

Hahaha. But I guess when you're in a fez, you either need to be driving a tiny car or watching nudie flix.


Harmon also has the distinction of appearing in a 2005 movie, The Naked Monster, despite having passed away twenty years earlier

Sigh. The IMDb had author/actor Jim Thompson in a movie about 17 years after he died, and it took several years for me to finally get it fixed. And an actor I just met a few days ago has two IMDb pages because they can't figure out how to combine them into one. A big lot o' geniuses there, I tell ya.


Stacia Jones’ Big Book of Scary Medical Stuff

It's true, I am unusually fascinated with medical whatnottery. And though I don't usually find medical stuff scary, I can tell you that my own nose problem -- which is much less photogenic than Howard's -- does scare me a little. Mainly because I look like I could be starring as The Guy Who Looks Like Boris Karloff in Arsenic and Old Lace.


“Or I’ll beat your ass to death with my walker!”

HA! The look on Sam's face in the screen grab there is very Harvey Korman-esque.

Also: Marvel at my self-restraint in not discussing the health care issue AT ALL.

R.A.M.'67 said...

It's been YEARS since I've seen the "deviated septum" episode. Good dissection of this notorious installment, as are all your Mayberry Mondays write-ups!

Chris Vosburg said...

Yes, I know, I keep saying that this is one of your best, Ivan, but this is one of your best.

Ever!

I note that Emmett fails to fix a bicycle (What exactly is he doing? Replacing a bent spoke? Why would he need to remove the wheel from the bicycle in order to do that?), so strike one, Emmett, on the Emmettfixitmeter.

I also note that the hub and rim of the bicycle are apparently painted pink. Jesus Christ.

I worked on the Paramount lot (which housed many of the Desilu productions) for years, and there were a lot of bicycles there (including mine)-- and many of them were quite gaudy; it was almost a badge of honor among stagehands to have the silliest looking bike.

But I never, ever saw on any of them the pink monstrosity that Emmett holds in his hand.

They must have dredged it up out the ruins of the basement caves under stages 28-31 at Paramount (the former RKO lot) where there was so much junk stashed I don't think they'll ever sort it out. Next thing, Emmett'll putting a fresh coat of paint onna sled with a "rosebud" insignia.

By the way, yes, I know, MRFD was shot a couple blocks away, at Desilu-Cahuenga, as was Andy Griffith and Gomer Pyle, and well, too many more to name.

As a last add on the Desilu-Cahuenga lot, I'll leave it to Andy Griffith himself, who in his '81 autobiography, went back to visit in the seventies and was devastated by what he found:

I was going to tell you a sad thing. Over on the corner of Cahuenga, near Melrose, there was a small studio. It's no longer a studio anymore. Part of it is indoor tennis courts and part of it is a huge warehouse for furniture that these big trucks haul to various points. I was over that way a year or two ago, and I just decided I would stop and see what was going on. So I went and looked onstage - stages one and two - that's where we spent 8 years - and they were storing furniture there. This whole studio, I understand, was built during the war, with inferior equipment. They were constantly digging up pipes for leaks. The roofs leaked. Don [Knotts] and I used to do scenes when it rained, and it would often rain in between us. Anyway, there were nine stages on that little lot, and for ten or fifteen years almost all of the comedy that came out of this town came out of that little studio. About 1970 a lot of shows went off the air or were cancelled. I had an aborted show that year [Headmaster] and we moved to Warner Brothers. Mayberry moved to Warner Brothers too. But when we moved and so many shows were cancelled, that little lot died, that tiny little lot died.

You know, you can read in that paragraph the very soul of Andy Griffith, and though he was talking obituary about a Hollywood lot, you can find in it an obituary for the man himself, and what what a good and kind soul he was.

Andy may be cheered, wherever he is, to hear that the lot is back in production, as "Red Studios".

Incidentally, it's "Vosburg", not "Vosberg". I'm Dutch, not Jewish [laughing].

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Rockfish began:

Deliverance's mutt and jeff

I like this one almost as your nickname for Emmett, "the anti-Floyd."

While the Bea o'meter will see limited action, do we have a visit from Andy Taylor on the near horizon?

No, that's it as far as Sheriff Taylor is concerned. With the first episode of the second season, "Andy's Baby," Andy said sayonara to that little Southern town...and in all honesty, it was to his benefit -- his guest appearances on the show seemed a little out-of-step with the direction that Mayberry R.F.D. took afterward.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

My BBFF admitted:

It's true, I am unusually fascinated with medical whatnottery. And though I don't usually find medical stuff scary, I can tell you that my own nose problem -- which is much less photogenic than Howard's -- does scare me a little.

The "scary" portion of Stacia Jones' Big Book of Scary Medical Stuff was my own last-minute addition. My posterior region always experiences a little rigidity whenever I hear about medical whatnottery because I'm a lot like Howard -- I'd convince myself I had the ailment, too.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Chris corrected me:

Incidentally, it's "Vosburg", not "Vosberg". I'm Dutch, not Jewish [laughing].

As someone who has seen his own name mangled beyond recognition, you can imagine how mortified I was when I saw this. I went back and corrected not only this but a previous name-dropping recognition. (You should ask Cliff Aliperti how many times I had to go back and correct his name because I left out the "i" after the "l.")

What exactly is he doing? Replacing a bent spoke? Why would he need to remove the wheel from the bicycle in order to do that?

He was replacing a spoke, though I'm not sure it was a bent one. I know that there's a subversive bit of humor on the show in that Emmett is painfully inept at repairing anything, but sometimes it causes me great concern because in a real small town, that shop of his would have closed within three months of its grand opening. Which is why I'm always positing that he's got a crap game going on in the back room, or that he's panhandling every time he parks his carcass on a bus depot bench.

Next thing, Emmett'll putting a fresh coat of paint onna sled with a "rosebud" insignia.

No more calls...we have a winner in this week's "how much iced tea is on Ivan's monitor" contest.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

R.A.N. '67 turned my head with flattery:

It's been YEARS since I've seen the "deviated septum" episode. Good dissection of this notorious installment, as are all your Mayberry Mondays write-ups!

Thanks for encouraging my behavior...and profuse apologies for dredging up the painful memory of Howard's septoplasty. :-)