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Lum and Abner: Rural America and the Golden Age of Radio

by Randal L. Hall

Availablecloth$60.00x 978-0-8131-2469-8
New Directions in Southern History
280 pages  Pubdate: 09/07/2007  6 x 9  14 photos

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In the 1930s radio stations filled the airwaves with programs about rural Americans struggling through the Great Depression. One of the most popular of these shows was Lum and Abner, the brainchild of two young businessmen from Arkansas. Chester “Chet” Lauck and Norris “Tuffy” Goff based Pine Ridge, the community they created on the air, on the hamlet of Waters, Arkansas. The title characters, who are farmers, local officials, and keepers of the Jot ’Em Down Store, manage to entangle themselves in a variety of hilarious dilemmas. In Lum and Abner: Rural America and the golden Age of Radio, historian Randal L. Hall contributes an extended introduction explaining the history and importance of the program, its creators, and its national audience and then presents a treasure trove of twenty-nine previously unavailable scripts from the show’s earliest period.

As a longtime fan of the wonderful comedy team of Lum and Abner, I couldn't be more pleased with Randal L. Hall's new book, which captures the true 'characters' behind the characters. Mr. Hall effectively highlights the social importance and social contributions of the program and its stars, Chester Lauck and Norris Goff, recognizing that the duo did more than simply entertain radio audiences across the nation; they also accurately introduced Southern culture to many areas of the country unfamiliar with it. By including a number of the original scripts as well, Hall provides listeners with their own opportunity to see (and speak) the language of Lum and Abner. -- Greg Bell, host of XM Satellite Radio's Old Time Radio channel 164

An original look at mass culture and rural America during the 1930s through the lens of one of the most popular radio programs of all time. -- Lu Ann Jones, author of Mama Learned Us to Work: Farm Women in the New South

A delightful and engaging study of one of the rare national radio shows that explored rural themes. . . . Instead of portraying the hillbilly as a degenerate and violent drunkard and rube, the southern mountaineer of Lum and Abner was forward-looking, likable, ambitious, and authentically rural. The show may have tapped the audience's attraction to what Hall calls 'mountain exoticism,' but it did so in a way that celebrated rural values and character. -- Melissa Walker, author of Southern Farmers and Their Stories: Memory and Meanin

Hall shows how Lum and Abner gave dignity to a group of people, the ‘hillbillies,’ that were otherwise maligned and stereotyped by other radio programs of the era. -- Carl E. Feather -- Cleveland (OH) Star Beacon

Hall offers a rare scholarly discussion of Lauck and Goff’s successful radio duo, as well as ruminations on the show’s symbolic role during an era of sweeping change for rural Americans. -- Arkansas Historical Quarterly

The book contains nearly 300 pages of joy for radio history fans. -- Radio Recall

Randal Hall is a perceptive interpreter and introducer of the lessons. -- David Stricklin -- Southwest Historical Quarterly

Lum and Abner attains Hall’s goal of recapturing a time when radio entertainment was vital and important to United States culture. [The book] is entertaining, informative, and enjoyable. Just like the radio program. -- John H. Barnhill -- Material Culture