Thursday, February 28, 2019


Back when I was growing up in this world o' ours there was this Big Nostalgia Fad that was up and bloomin' full force that was havin' everybody talkin' 'bout a whole load of things that seemingly weren't up and about anymore! Not only that but these old tymers and even young 'uns were reminiscing (or vicariously living through it all) with fond memories as if influenza epidemics was anything funtime to want to remember inna first place. I'm not exactly talkin' fifties-era fun 'n jamz mind you (that would have to wait until the "Spirit of '57" 7 Up ad reared its zit-faced head) but 20s/30s/40s lookbacks which, not surprisingly enough, seemed like nothing that special to this ten-year-old. After all, given that my own folk and relatives were still heavily rooted in the past what with World War II still a frequent subject of discussion and the desserts straight outta some recipe of the exact same confection Bess used to make for Harry (Ozark Pudding...good stuff too!), I myself was pretty much LIVING in the 20s/30s/40s while growing up and was sure glad about it! Of course books filled with comic strip reprints as well as LITTLE RASCALS and old moom pitcher reruns onna tee-vee sure helped bolster the illusion.

's funny but alla that nostalgia for some of the better things that went down entertainment and even food-wise in the past seemed to vanish by the eighties. Even stranger was the sixties/seventies nostalgia that popped up sometime in the early-nineties which totally stymied me because hey, the fondness for the twenties throughout the fifties was a total reaction, not only by the Agnewites but the Hubert Humphreys amongst us, against the social upheaval that the late-sixties and seventies were rife with. Having lived through the seventies many of the things I remember with fondness were TV reruns, old movies and scant few records, most of which were created in that now-loathed past as if I would care to re-live the days of disco and rampant radical rage. Sure I wouldn't mind one bit experiencing the flowering of underground rock ideals and other forms artistic or not, but this time I'd either like a front row seat or to be a proud participant in the zeitgeist of Velvet Underground potentials taken to their logical conclusions.

But eh, this GREAT GILDERSLEEVE radio show was fab! Perfect for whatever is left of the old fashioned 40s radio fan out there, and even younger fanablas like myself can get into it not only because of the situation comedy aspects that ricocheted for quite a few decades after but the mere fact that Leroy, Gildersleeve's adopted nephew, is played by none other than tee-vee's Sherman aka Walter Tetley.

As far as sitcoms go these episodes do fill the bill especially at night when one can just laze back, stare at the lamp-lighted room with the same secure shades that lighted rooms had looked like this ever since one can remember, and just absorb yourself into the rather entertaining saga that comes outta the nifty boom box snugly situated at the side of yer bed. Harold Peary as the title character (I hear that his Gildersleeve was the first ever character to spin off into his own radio series, in this case FIBBER McGEE AND MOLLY which is due for a review in these pages one of these days) does the old pompous midaged bachelor role perfectly while the kids (who besides perennial castrati Tetley included Louise Erickson as the coming of age sister with all the passionate gush that would imply) seem to behave like most kids usedta before that law where childhood was declared illegal and now all we have are adults in waiting was put into effect. Lillian Randolph as Birdie the maid adds the proper punch to the fambly situation and if any of you save-the-world types would be "offended" by a black woman playing a maid on forties radio well then, you'd be offended by Rochester as well. And probably are!

I find these GILDERSLEEVE essipodes pretty snazz in the sitcom department what with the not-necessarily hackneyed plots dealing with everything from the post war housing shortage (a similar plot was used in an Edgar Kennedy short) to Gildersleeve falling madly in infatuation (or was it lust?) for a woman he briefly glanced upon which I gotta say makes the kinda things I assume they still show sitcom-wise (foo-give me if I haven't even watching a real one since 1990) seem like even more piddle. (Did you ever notice that the same pompous and demanding of others generation that scoffed at the "banality" of these old comedies have created programs and other attempts at humor which not only are lacking in laughs but downright grim?) With THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE you not only get to hear some pretty interesting stories performed by talented individuals, but the characters they portray sure seem a whole lot more realistic and flesh and blood than most anything seen in current entertainment (or so I assume...).  Hey, I couldn't care one whit if Roseanne OD'd on Oxycontin but I do feel the same pangs of angst that Gildersleeve did when he espied that lovely lady or the terror Leroy did when that bully was out to get him and he hadda rush home after dark!

To add even more realism to the proceedings the original ads for Kraft products were left on, giving us stuck inna past maniacs an idea as to what a whole lotta our forerunners hadda go through right after the Big One what with Kraft apologizing for the shortage of Miracle Whip due to sugar being in such short supply. (But that don't matter to me cuz I never did like the stuff, me preferring the real deal Kraft Mayonnaise which is now plentiful!) One thing I'd like to know is, whatever happened to Kraft's home made ice cream product Frizz, which sure sounds like something I woulda pestered my mother to get me had the stuff still been around a good twennysome years later! And they said us pampered suburban slob ranch house kids had it all!

1 comment:

JD King said...

Now you're talking.