My first visit to Pine Ridge was in May 1992. Lyle and I were visiting my grandparents who lived near Mulberry, Arkansas. We invited them to go with us to find the Jot ‘Em Down Store. Never ones to turn down an adventure they were happy to go along and reminisce about listening to the radio show when they were newlyweds in the 1930s.
In my pre-blogging days I edited a monthly family newsletter for my extended family (from 1989 to 2008). Grandmother wrote a column every month telling all the things she and Granddaddy were up to. This is her report of our visit to Pine Ridge.
May 2, 1992
Lyle and Karla asked Daddy and me to ride with them to Pine Ridge, Arkansas and visit the Jot ‘Em Down Store and see the setting there in the community where the Lum and Abner radio show took place. We learned that many of the fictional characters on the show were inspired by actual residents of Pine Ridge and the surrounding area, but only the voices of two men, Chet Lauck and Tuffy Goff, were heard on the program. Chet Lauck was Lum, Grandpappy Spears, and Cedric Weehunt. Tuffy Goff was Abner, Squire Skimp, Mousey Gray, and Dick Huddleston.
Just as we drove up we noticed an old man on the porch in overalls and a straw hat. He said he was 80 and was the man Lauck and Goff imitated as Mousey Gray. He was always saying, “That’s just like a mother to me.” Maybe his old hat, or old shoes, etc. His son and daughter-in-law had brought him there to visit. He acted so happy to see the old store again and be there. He said he is the only character still living. Cedric just died recently.
It was really of interest to us. Their show began in 1931. In the winter after we married December 19, 1936, we were living about a mile and a half from Mother and Daddy Shumaker. We had several hundred head of sheep on pasture there and were camped in an old house on the place. So after the sheep were penned up for the night, we would walk across the way to their house to hear Lum and Abner. Not every family had a radio, and we sure did not as newlyweds. It was fun. All radios then were battery-operated and if the battery ran down Granddaddy would drive the car up next to the window of the house and connect the car battery to the radio. What an advantage to have electricity!
Jot ‘Em Down Store (now a souvenir and gift shop, as well as a Lum and Abner Museum) is about 20 miles east of Mena, Arkansas. We ate lunch in Mena. It was a wonderful day of fun and fellowship, forgetting our work at home.