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If we could borrow the Wayback Machine belonging
to Mr. Peabody (not Phinus or Abner), the spring of
1936 would be a good place to travel to for Lum and
Abner fans. So much was happening within a four-
month time frame that it is difficult to comprehend it
all even today.

Late in 1935 there were some rumblings that the post
office at Waters was considering changing its name
to Pine Ridge, to reap some of the publicity being
generated by its featured status on
Lum and Abner. It
was around the same time that Chet Lauck and
Norris Goff hired a new publicity man, Jack Ryan,
who was always on the lookout for ways to get his
clients’ names into the papers. The two campaigns
meshed perfectly, and both Ryan and Dick
Huddleston realized it.

On January 28, 1936, Ryan wrote to Huddleston with
the following information:

Answering your letter of January 21 relative to
changing the name of the town, I think that a good
day for the celebration would be April 26. This is the
fifth anniversary of the first Lum and Abner radio
program and I can’t think of another date that would
be any more suited to the dedication of Pine Ridge
than that.

I have found that the cost of putting on a program
directly from Waters would be way out of the question
because of the money involved. The National
Broadcasting Co. tells me that it would cost $27,900 to
string lines from Waters that would tap on to the
nearest trunk line, and of course that is a [h-e-double-
c-k] of a lot of money in any man’s language.

Right now I am working on NBC with the idea that we
could stage the program from Little Rock. The idea
would be to work in the Governor of Arkansas and
various state officials as well as the residents of Pine
Ridge.

It occurred to me that perhaps we might stage
something on the Capitol steps wherein the Governor
hands the city charter to the citizens of Pine Ridge or
something of that nature. Since the twenty-sixth falls
on a Sunday, the boys would probably be able to be
there in person and if the line charges are not too
great I think that this plan would be just about as
valuable as a broadcast direct from Pine Ridge.

Ryan also mentioned the highly fictionalized version
of the birth of Chester Norris Garrett on Christmas
Day 1935, which we covered in the Winter 2006 issue
of the
Journal: “I want to thank you very much for
helping me out on the story about the Garrett family.
It makes a peach of a yarn and I think that we will be
able to do quite a bit with it.”

On January 30, Ryan reported that NBC had decided
the cost of a broadcast from Little Rock would be
reasonable, and began attempting to enlist the
involvement of Governor Futrell. Meanwhile, the
Mena Star was continuing its usual coverage of L&A’
s
doin’s, totally unaware of what was brewing out at
Waters/Pine Ridge. On January 31, the following
article appeared:

Lum and Abner Buy Mena Auto
License Tags
———
Mena pays tribute to Lum and Abner, two native sons
who have made good over the ether waves, and Lum
and Abner appreciate this tribute. That the above
statement is true was made evident this week when a
telegram was received by W. A. Finks, City Treasurer,
asking that two Mena automobile license tags be
forwarded to the two popular radio stars, which
telegram was followed by a letter with a check
enclosed to pay for said licenses.

Mena automobile licenses this year, as motorists
know who have purchased their stickers, bear the
slogan “The Home of Lum and Abner.” Lum and
Abner, upon learning of this, immediately ordered
stickers for their cars and although at present
residents of Chicago, the former Menaites will
proclaim to the motoring public of the windy city,
through their Mena license stickers, that they are still
proud of their home town.

Chet and Tuffy continued to prove they were loyal
Mena citizens in other ways. The very next day,
February 1, the
Star reported:

Lum and Abner Give Support to New
Hospital
———
The Mena General Hospital is to have two rooms
dedicated to “Lum and Abner,” the famed radio pair of
Mena boys. Will S. MacLafferty, president of the
hospital board, wrote the boys, advising them the
cost of equipping a room at the hospital was $100.
With the starting of the new institution, a hard pull
financially, some friends had suggested that perhaps
the radio team would like to equip a room or two, and
as a result, Mr. MacLafferty has received a letter from
Jack Ryan, secretary and publicity man for “Lum and
Abner,” with the welcome check for $200. Mr, Ryan
further stated the boys were deeply interested in the
success of the hospital and would be glad to be
advised of future plans for the hospital betterment
that they might take part.

If the city had been aware of how much attention was
about to be focused on its rural community neighbor
to the east, it might not have been so excited over
promoting L&A, but as of February 4, another tribute
had been conceived:

Will Send Birthday Cards to Lum and
Abner
———
As the result of a suggestion recently made by Bob
Berry regarding the birthdays of our own Lum and
Abner, a committee has been appointed by the Mena
Chamber of Commerce to see that these two popular
radio stars are fittingly reminded of their respective
natal days. The committee is composed of L. E.
Gwaltney and Fred Duke and it has been decided to
prepare large birthday cards for the two former
Menaites, which will have an appropriate Ouachita
scene on the front and to which will be affixed the
signatures of all the friends who desire to wish the
boys “happy returns of the day.”

The scene will be hand painted by Miss Willie Mae
Cole, local artist, and the committee will circulate the
sheets for signatures. Lum, whose birthday comes
first, will get the first greeting from the “County Seat,”
while the card for Abner will be held until later. Lum’s
birthday is February 9 and Abner was born May 30.

On February 18, Lauck and Goff and Ryan had just
returned from their trip to New York (where L&A had
appeared on RCA’s program
The Magic Key), and
Ryan reported to Dick Huddleston:

This morning’s mail brought a letter from Gov. Futrell,
expressing his willingness to cooperate in presenting
the charter to Pine Ridge and offering to take part in a
program we might put on at Little Rock. The lineup
with NBC has not been set up to this moment but I
will try to get that detail out of the way by the end of
this week, and you can expect a fairly definite set-up
to be in your hands not later than a week from today.

As Ryan predicted, things were shifting into high
gear by the following week. On February 25, he wrote
to Dick:

Many thanks for the Pine Ridge plates. They were
waiting for me in the office this morning when I got
back from one of these weekend theatre dates that
the boys have been playing lately.

[We do not know whether the “plates” Dick sent to
Ryan were the kind people eat off of, or if this had
something to do with the Mena automobile license
plates mentioned earlier.]

The dedication of Pine Ridge is just about set. Last
Friday, NBC agreed to make its networks available on
April 26 for a half-hour broadcast from Little Rock.
The only drawback to this business is that there are
local telephone charges to be considered amounting
to about $500, but I believe the boys intend to pay
this cost themselves so we’ll stop worrying about
that detail.

I am getting in touch with the Little Rock Chamber of
Commerce today in an effort to find out what
cooperation we may expect from them. In the
meantime I should like you to tell me just exactly what
talent you will be able to round up for a trip over to
Little Rock to take part in the celebration.

Things are starting to happen now, after all the
waiting around we have done, so you can expect to
be receiving howls for help from this end of the line in
greatly increasing numbers.

Back in Mena, the Star gave this report on L&A’s
response to the birthday greetings they had received
from the city:

As most people in Mena and the surrounding territory
know, a birthday greeting extraordinary was recently
sent to Lum, of the popular radio team of Lum and
Abner. The greeting contained a hand-painted
woodland scene and 569 signatures of relatives and
friends of the two former Mena boys, who sent
“Greetings from the County Seat.” The birthday card
idea was first started by a former Mena Star reporter,
who is now in Little Rock and refers to himself as
“Yours Truly,” and was taken up, worked out and
carried to completion by a committee appointed by the
Mena Chamber of Commerce.

Shortly after the birthday card was sent, Lum and
Abner made an appearance on the RCA Magic Key
program from Radio City, New York, and local
admirers of the “No. 1 Comedy Team of the Air” sent
a congratulatory telegram to them which bore the
signatures of practically all organizations and
institutions in Mena.

In response to these “pats on the back” from the
“home town cheering section,” as the boys put it,
they have written a letter of appreciation which the
Star is glad to publish. Realizing that it was next to
impossible for them to personally acknowledge and
thank everyone who signed the greetings, the general
letter to their friends at Mena was resorted to:
======
Dear Folks:

Having just gone through the experience of seeing
the whole countryside rise up and give us a pat on the
back, we are at a complete loss for any method of
thanking each one of you adequately.

The five years that have nearly gone by since we first
wandered out of Mena into the land of Radio have
served more than anything else to prove that our best
and most steadfast audience is the audience at home.
We have played with many of you as youngsters;
with some of you we have done business as young
fellows growing up; others of you have been the
older folks in the community to whom we have
looked for guidance in life, and still others have been
relatives and neighbors – all of you are the people we
have thought about during these five years. And
when (as all radio must) we have directed our
program at the Radio Audience – the Audience to us
has been the Audience of folks back home.

The telegram from all of the people at the County Seat
arrived just before we were to go on the Magic Key
program, and if there had been time on the program to
announce the names of all the folks who sent the
telegram, that announcement certainly would have
been made. One of the finest things that we have ever
received during our time in the radio world was the
community birthday greeting with the names of all
you people written in your own hand. A card like that
can’t help but be a source of inspiration to us, and we
want all of you to feel that this one letter is a personal
expression of our heartfelt thanks to each and every
one of you.

Life has its travails and troubles but with the help of
the cheering section such as we have at Mena and
Waters we would be breaking a public trust if we ever
faltered.

Sincerely,
LUM and ABNER
======
As another means of paying tribute to Lum and
Abner, a birthday greeting, similar to the one sent
Lum, was mailed to William Horlick Sr., aged sponsor
of the popular radio team, on his 90th birthday which
was February 23. This greeting also contained over
500 signatures but differed from Lum’s greeting
inasmuch as the painting on the front was Lum and
Abner in character make-up. This greeting was also
arranged for by the Chamber of Commerce.

Whether or not this birthday greeting had anything to
do with it, things began stirring at the Horlick’s
Malted Milk plant in Racine, Wisconsin. A March 18
letter to Dick from the company does not directly
address the upcoming publicity stunt, but touches
on publicity of another type:

We have been advised by our advertising agency,
Lord & Thomas, that you are desirous of purchasing
some of the Lum and Abner Almanacs, since you
have so many calls for them in your store. Under
separate cover we are sending you a supply of fifty of
these Almanacs. If you feel that you are able to
dispose of these to your advantage, it will be
satisfactory to us for you to pay for them at the cost
price of five cents each.

If this price is more than you had intended to pay,
kindly advise us. Our advertising agency stated that
you may desire to purchase more of these in the
future, and if you wish to do so, we should be pleased
to fill your order as long as our supply lasts.

William Horlick himself got involved on April 13,
writing to Dick:

I was pleased to receive your letter of March 19 and
was much interested in seeing the photographs you
sent of the interior of your store and also of a good
day’s catch in Pine Ridge. We note that you go in for
dealing in eggs in quite a big way.

We are following with much interest the preparations
for the ceremonies which are to be reported over the
National Broadcasting Company for the official
changing of the name of Waters to Pine Ridge. We
have heard that you plan to be present personally in
Little Rock to receive the official documents, and have
no doubt it will be a thrilling occasion for you. Also
we were interested to know that you are one of the
incorporators of the newspaper which is being
published at Mount Ida and thank you for the copy
which you sent. I shall be glad to receive any further
notices concerning the April 26 celebration which
may come to your notice.

While all of this was going on, and probably in
response to some of the Waters/Pine Ridge publicity
that was leaking out, on March 24 the
Star elected to
editorialize a bit about a sore point that continues to
fester today. We here at the NLAS are always ready
to help correct such misinformation ourselves, so
here it goes again:

We May Get Out of the Ozarks Some
of These Days
======
As many local residents know, in connection with
much of the publicity which is gotten out about Lum
and Abner, the locale of their daily broadcasted
sketches is referred to as being in the Ozark
mountains. Several objections have been offered,
adroitly enough so as not to jeopardize the popular
radio team’s standing, and apparently these letters
calling attention to the fact that the mountains in this
section are the Ouachitas and not the Ozarks are
having their effect.

Recently a letter was sent to the Radio Guide, a
national weekly which carries many stories about
Lum and Abner. The letter is reproduced below and is
self explanatory.
———
Mena, Ark. March 18, 1936

The Radio Guide, Chicago, Ill.

Gentlemen: We like your Radio Guide. We are
personal friends of Lum and Abner (Chet and Norris).
Have known them as long as anyone. Know their
wives also. Now we want to raise a fuss with you.

In every article that you publish about Lum and
Abner, you state that they are from the Ozarks down
in Arkansas. These boys have never lived in the
Ozark Mountains, only when they were in school at
Fayetteville. And Pine Ridge is not in the Ozark
Mountains (Believe It or Not), but a few miles from
Mena, Ark., in the Ouachita Mountains, which is not a
part of the Ozarks. Ask Lum and Abner, or the United
States Forest Service.

We Mena folks do not like to be told that we live in the
Ozarks. WE LIVE IN THE BEAUTIFUL OUACHITA
MOUNTAINS near THE SOURCE OF THE OUACHITA
RIVER – THE PRETTIEST COUNTRY IN ARKANSAS,
HOME OF LUM AND ABNER.

Yours truly,
The Bunch at Jackson Drug Co.
J. Roy Ivey
———
This letter brought a reply right back and reading as
follows, is also self explanatory.
———
Dear Mr. Ivey: Doggone! There I’ve put my foot in it
again. I’m from Missouri originally myself and should
know better than to put Mena in the Ozarks.

Some of these days I’m going to visit the Ouachita
Mountains in order to convince myself that it’s the
prettiest country in Arkansas. When I do, I hope you
and the Bunch at the Jackson Drug Company will
forgive me.

Sincerely,
Curtis Mitchell

So, what happened when the word finally got out
about Waters becoming Pine Ridge, and the big NBC
broadcast from Little Rock on April 26? The
Star
broke the news three days ahead of time, occupying
much space with reports on the heroes’ welcome
that was to be given to Lauck & Goff. You will see the
Little Rock newspaper’s reports in part two of this
feature.
                                              
- Tim Hollis
PHOTOS AND CAPTIONS:

















In 1936, Lauck and Goff and publicity man Jack Ryan
worked out of office 1136-A in Chicago's Merchandise
Mart.
























































































This elegant Mena home was serving as the city's
hospital when Lauck and Goff sent their $200 support
in 1936.
























































































































































































Horlick's sold the 1936 L&A Almanac to Dick
Huddleston for a nickel a copy. Dick could be cleaning
up on eBay today.
















This may be the photo Dick Huddleston sent to William
Horlick to demonstrate a good day's fishing in Pine
Ridge.



















We have no idea who this tourist may be who is taking
a tour of the inside of Dick Huddleston's store, but it
looks like the mail has been pouring in lately.




























































The change from Waters to Pine Ridge was a great
benefit to both Dick Huddleston and Horlick's Malted
Milk.
The change from Waters to Pine Ridge was a great benefit to both Dick Huddleston and Horlick's Malted Milk.
We have no idea who this tourist may be who is taking a tour of the inside of Dick Huddleston's store, but it looks like the mail has been pouring in lately.
This may be the photo Dick Huddleston sent to William Horlick to demonstrate a good day's fishing in Pine Ridge.
Horlick's sold the 1936 L&A Almanac to Dick Huddleston for a nickel a copy. Dick could be cleaning up on eBay today.
This elegant Mena home was serving as the city's hospital when Lauck and Goff sent their $200 support in 1936.
In 1936, Lauck and Goff and publicity man Jack Ryan worked out of office 1136-A in Chicago's Merchandise Mart.


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CLICK HERE FOR PART 2!

CLICK TO VISIT PINE RIDGE TODAY!

CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO THE HOME PAGE.

CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO THE JOURNAL PAGE.
This is another article in
The National Lum and Abner Society's Online Edition of
The Jot 'Em Down Journal:
Pine Ridge Turns 75 - Part 1
This article was originally published in The Jot 'Em Down Journal Volume 22, Number 4, Whole Number 128,
Spring 2006.  Tim Hollis authored this article, which has been slightly edited and modified for this web format.