The National Lum and Abner Society
THE 1999 NLAS CONVENTION
This article was originally published in the August 1999 issue of The Jot 'Em Down Journal.  It has been reformatted for this
website in a format to benefit our blind members with text on the left, photos on the right.
NAVIGATION:  HOME | LINKS | SALES | NEWS | CONTACT | COMICS
To borrow Opie Gates' opening phrase from his ABC radio
series, "The doggonedest thing happened ta [us] th' other
day..." The 15th annual NLAS Convention very nearly did not
happen!  Before reporting on the delightful goings-on, we
must express the gratitude of the "ossifers" to the many
members of the NLAS whose financial support made the 1999
convention a reality. We thank you!
If you were unable to be with us, "You shore missed a
good-ern!"  Let's retrace our steps: "Ossifers" Sam and Tim,
accompanied by Tim's mother Kathleen Hollis and Michigan
member Chuck Anders, met guest star Fred Foy in Little Rock
on June 24, transporting him to Pine Ridge's Jot 'Em Down
Store and Lum and Abner Museum.  Following a tour by
curators Lon and Kathy Stucker, the NLAS "team" proceeded
to Mena.
Fred Foy's most familiar radio role was that of
announcer-narrator on
The Lone Ranger from 1948 to 1954.  
"What does
The Lone Ranger have to do with Lum and Abner?"
you might ask.  "More than you might think," we might answer!  
Both programs enjoyed long runs on ABC, both made use of
actor Jay Michael in supporting roles, and
The Lone Ranger
was referred to several times on
Lum and Abner.  Besides,
there was a program entitled
Lum and Abner Meet the Lone
Ranger!
 Of course, it didn't take place until... 1999!
The Friday evening program commenced at 5:00, with Mr. Foy
recounting fascinating anecdotes from his career in radio and
television, accompanied by audio clips.  (See the feature on
Mr. Foy elsewhere on this web site:
CLICK HERE!)
Lum and Abner Meet the Lone Ranger was performed, complete
with the stirring finale to
The William Tell Overture, and
numerous authentic selections of Republic Pictures musical
cues for dramatic bridges.  Mr. Foy performed the dual role of
announcer-narrator and the Lone Ranger, and did so with the
tremendous flair fans have appreciated for years.  Audience
members commented on the "chills" and "thrills" they
experienced, and many closed their eyes to experience "the
Theater of the Mind."  Alphabetically, Sam Brown performed
key sound effects and the roles of Tonto, Dick Huddleston,
Snake Hogan, Ulysses S. Quincy and Mr. Waters, Dick's 1872
counterpart.  (The live sound effects included bathroom
plungers pounded in boxes of cat litter to simulate "the
thundering hoofbeats," and ring-cap pistols filling in for the
sounds of "silver bullets!")  Tim Hollis portrayed Lum, Mousey
Gray, and Ben Withers, while Donnie Pitchford produced the
recorded music and effects and played Abner and Sidewinder
(Squire) Skimp.  "Aunt Laura" Pitchford tackled the exacting
task of cuing the prerecorded audio, which included original
"He's feeling his Cheerios" jingles for the middle commercial.  
(While the script was transcribed from an actual Cheerios
spot, the 1999 author added a few references to
Lum and
Abner
sponsors as well!)
The script, written by "Uncle Donnie," is something of a sequel
to the Tim Hollis radio play of 1995 that united L&A with
Chester (Parley Baer) Proudfoot of
Gunsmoke.  L&A are
transported back "to those thrilling days of yesteryear" by a
strange time machine discovered in a decaying shack near an
abandoned stretch of railroad. In the "yesteryear" of 1872, our
old friends encounter a gang of train robbers headed by
"Sidewinder Skimp," and help to rescue a badly wounded
Tonto.  In the second act, the Lone Ranger himself arrives for
plenty of action, which includes exciting gun battles and
fist-fights with Skimp and his gang.  With the evildoers
arrested, L&A return to 1999 via the amazing time machine, to
be greeted by their Pine Ridge friends.
Fred Foy, who received a standing ovation as the final strains
of
William Tell galloped off into an audio sunset, was a
recipient of the Lum and Abner Memorial Award for his
contributions to radio history, and his friendship and
enthusiastic involvement with the NLAS.  Due to the presence
of several small children (mostly belonging to a certain family
soon to be discussed), a new prize was offered to the
"youngest attendee!"  Little Miss Ashton Spradlin was
awarded the two tiny boxes of Cheerios used in the
above-mentioned commercial, both of which were "Cheeri-ly"
autographed by Fred Foy.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Lum and Abner
Monument in Mena (see the June issue of the Journal),
Saturday's 10:00 a.m. program honored retired Mena
businessman Doy Grubbs, a major force behind the
implementation and 1979 completion of the project.  Thanks to
charter NLAS member David Miller of Texas, a rare videotape
of the dedication ceremony was available for viewing.  Mr.
Grubbs' memories of the event, and of meeting and working
with Chester "Lum" Lauck, were extremely informative.  In
addition, he presented the NLAS with an original souvenir
program and related newspaper clippings.  For these
achievements, as well as for the years of assistance Mr.
Grubbs has given the NLAS, he was honored with the second
1999 Lum and Abner Memorial Award.
Mr. Grubbs informed the attendees that additional names
were being engraved on the back of the L&A Monument, and
we were overwhelmed when NLAS member Bob Flood of
Texas donated a cash amount to have the National Lum and
Abner Society added to that list!
Eddie Huckaby of the Ouachita Little Theatre (housed in
Mena's historic Lyric Theatre where L&A themselves once
performed) introduced a video clip of their recent
performances of L&A scripts, and donated archival material to
the NLAS, including a rare copy of the 1946
Hail Arkansas sheet
music, which sports a photo of Lum and Abner, and some of
the original newspaper coverage of the song's Mena debut.
Walter Graves, a former Frigidaire dealer, presented the NLAS
with a priceless souvenir of his experiences in California over
50 years ago: an original
Lum and Abner broadcast script from
the Christmas program of 1948!  As he explained, he had
tickets to the show (since Frigidaire was the sponsor), and
afterward made the request to visit with Lauck and Goff. A CBS
employee told him "no," but Mr. Graves insisted she inform
Tuffy Goff that "I moved here from Cove, Arkansas" ("Abner's"
birthplace), and before long, the two were united!  As a gift,
Mr. Graves received Tuffy's personal script, which is now
preserved in the NLAS archives.
As we reported last issue, no recording has been located for
the
L&A program of June 12, 1949.  A bit more than a
half-century later, the NLAS staged a recreation of that script,
with (alphabetically) Sam Brown as Honeyboy Davis, Tim Hollis
as Lum and Mose Moots, Verla (Mrs. Eddie) Huckaby as
Widder Abernathy, Donnie Pitchford as Abner, and Laura
Pitchford as Zasu Pitts.  For announcer, who could ask for
better casting than Fred Foy as Wendell Niles?  (Mr. Niles,
who passed away in 1994, was an NLAS Convention guest ten
years before.)
"The doggonedest thing..." Opie Cates was portrayed by
Robert Cates - Opie's son!!  When it came time for Opie's
hilariously horrid rendition of "Glow Worm," Robert produced
his father's actual clarinet as a prop!  (The taped version
Robert pretended to play was performed by Laura Pitchford,
but he surprised us by actually squeaking out the first
phrase!)  Other NLAS "firsts" were the performances of the
ladies in the cast (Mrs. Huckaby had played "the Widder" in
the aforementioned Mena stage shows), Tim's flabbergasting
impersonation of Andy Devine (Mose), and Donnie's version of
Abner singing "'I Grannies, I Love You" to a newly created
backing track. (See our June 1999 issue for the script to this
program.)
Only one NLAS member holds the distinction of perfect
attendance to our 15 conventions: John "Grandpappy"
Knuppel of Yukon, Oklahoma! "I wonder what's in this tie
box?" quipped "Grandpap," as he opened his commemorative
gift. Mr. Knuppel received the fourth in a series of
hand-painted Lum    and Abner ties, which matches the three
worn by the "ossifers."
The Saturday evening program was devoted entirely to the
multi-talented Opie Cates.  As the "ossifers" joked, this
convention could have been renamed "the Cates Family
Reunion," because all of Opie's children (Bob, Dixie, Dinah,
Linda and Liza) were present, bringing with them their
spouses, children and grandchildren!  Never before has the
NLAS been honored with such a large ensemble of family
members paying tribute to their patriarch.  Robert Cates led us
through Opie's life via photos projected onto two large
monitors, and audio clips of his musical and comedic
performances.
Other incredible anniversaries were observed!  We listened
to Opie's own audio "demo" of "I Grannies, I Love You," which
was recorded June 26, 1949, exactly 50 years prior to our
Saturday programs!  The July 1949 half-century old, half-hour
Lum and Abner CBS TV pilot was offered on videotape, and it
proved nostalgic in more ways than one.  Introducing it,
thanks to a 1985 convention clip, was Roz Rogers, one of our
first-ever guest stars (the other being Clarence Hartzell).  Be
sure to see our October 1999 issue of
The Jot 'Em Down
Journal
for a special salute to Opie Cates!
What a sight it was when all of Opie's children came forward to
accept (and pretend to fight over) the third 1999 Lum and
Abner Memorial Award, engraved to "The Opie Cates Family."  
The support, enthusiasm and generosity of the Cates family
would make Opie proud.  The "distance prize," for the person
traveling the farthest to attend, went to a member of the Cates
family, Richard Cates Hayes of Santa Barbara, Calif.
Ted Theodore (also a member of the fine OTR organization
SPERDVAC, P.O. Box 7177, Van Nuys, CA 91409) once again
provided the guitar accompaniment to L&A's favorite song,
"They Cut Down the Old Pine Tree," the traditional closing to
the NLAS conventions.  This year, we dedicated the song to
Mr. and Mrs. Troy Boyd of Sulphur Springs. Texas.  Mr. Boyd
has often played the melody on his hand-crafted fiddle, but
the couple was unable to attend this year due to illnesses.  
Get well soon, Mr. and Mrs. Boyd!
The NLAS extended the best wishes of Helen Hartzell, widow
of Clarence "Ben Withers" Hartzell.  "Auntie Helen" was sorely
missed, and we hope to see her back next year!
We were pleased to again have Scott Lauck, "Lum's
grandson," in attendance for our Saturday evening meeting.     
The Mayor of Mena, Henry Sunderman, honored us with his
presence during the weekend as well.  The sad task of
"striking the set" in the Lime Tree Inn meeting room was
accomplished by the "ossifers" and members Chuck Anders
and Jim Temple.
There was a classic moment that would have made a perfect
concluding shot for the 1999 video highlights.  Sadly, no
cameras were rolling!  Imagine if you will the Sunday morning
departure of silver-haired Fred Foy, about to step into Sam
Brown's silver automobile, raising one hand skyward, smiling
warmly, and issuing that hearty cry... "HI YO SILVER!"
                                

- "Uncle Donnie" Pitchford, 1999
Fred Foy tries to tune in THE LONE RANGER on the antique radio in theLum and Abner Museum in Pine Ridge.
Fred Foy tries to tune in THE LONE RANGER
on the antique radio in the
Lum and Abner Museum in Pine Ridge.
Performing LUM AND ABNER MEET THE LONE RANGER (Left to Right): Sam Brown, Fred Foy, Tim Hollis, and Donnie Pitchford, who also wrote the script.
Performing LUM AND ABNER MEET THE LONE
RANGER (Left to Right): Sam Brown, Fred Foy, Tim
Hollis, and Donnie Pitchford, who also wrote the script.
Donnie Pitchford presents Fred Foy with one of the Lum and Abner Memorial Awards for 1999.
Donnie Pitchford presents Fred Foy with one of the
Lum and Abner Memorial Awards for 1999.
Here is Sam Brown, pounding out those
Here is Sam Brown, pounding out those "thundering
hoof beats of the great horse Silver!"
This cast recreated the LUM AND ABNER script of June 12, 1949: Sam Brown (Honeyboy Davis), Laura Pitchford (ZaSu Pitts), Fred Foy (Wendell Niles), Verla Huckaby (Widder Abernathy), Tim Hollis (Lum/Mose Moots), and Donnie Pitchford (Abner).  Not shown is Robert Cates, who enacted therole of his father, Opie Cates.
This cast recreated the LUM AND ABNER script of
June 12, 1949: Sam Brown (Honeyboy Davis), Laura
Pitchford (ZaSu Pitts), Fred Foy (Wendell Niles),
Verla Huckaby (Widder Abernathy), Tim Hollis
(Lum/Mose Moots), and Donnie Pitchford (Abner).  
Not shown is Robert Cates, who enacted the
role of his father, Opie Cates.
Robert Cates tries to emulate his dad Opie's talent with the clarinet... which, by the way, is the very clarinet Opie used on LUM AND ABNER.
Robert Cates tries to emulate his dad Opie's talent
with the clarinet... which, by the way, is the very
clarinet Opie used on LUM AND ABNER.
Sam Brown presents the Opie Cates family with one of the 1999 Lum and Abner Memorial Awards. L to R: Robert, Dixie, Dinah, Linda, and Liza.
Sam Brown presents the Opie Cates family with one
of the 1999 Lum and Abner Memorial Awards. L to R:
Robert, Dixie, Dinah, Linda, and Liza.
Doy Grubbs greets Chet (Lum) Lauck at the dedication of the Lum and Abner Monument in Mena, June 1979.
Doy Grubbs greets Chet (Lum) Lauck at the
dedication of the Lum and Abner Monument in
Mena, June 1979.
Donnie Pitchford (left) and Sam Brown (right) present Doy Grubbs with one of the 1999 Lum and Abner Memorial Awards.
Donnie Pitchford (left) and Sam Brown (right) present
Doy Grubbs with one of the 1999 Lum and Abner
Memorial Awards.
15-year Convention veteran John Knuppel with his newly-created Lum and Abner necktie.
15-year Convention veteran John Knuppel
with his newly-created Lum and Abner necktie.
NAVIGATION:  HOME | LINKS | SALES | NEWS | CONTACT | COMICS
Lum and Abner®
is a registered trademark of Lum and Abner
Associates and is used by permission.
All rights reserved.

National Lum and Abner Society "Ossifers"
Sam Brown, Tim Hollis, and Donnie Pitchford.