|Frank Gillette, of Britton Avenue, tunes an antique radio the way he did back in the
1930s while listening to the Lum and Abner program, which was one of the most
popular radio shows in America at the time. The classic radio pictured with Gillette
is owned by Roger Sams, an antique collector and dealer from Welcome Grove
Road at Mosheim.
|The original version of this article appeared in The Greeneville Sun, Greeneville, Tennesssee, Saturday, September 11,
2010. It is being presented here, formatted for this page, by permission of the author.
This material is copyright 2010 by Bob Hurley and The Greenville Sun (www.greenevillesun.com)
This is a bit painful for me to do, but I’ve come today to
confess that I really am as slow as Cedric Wolfgang
If you are old enough to remember Cedric Wolfgang
Weehunt, then this column is just for you.
See, for the first 15 or 16 years of my life, my daddy
called me Cedric Wolfgang Weehunt, and I never
bothered to ask him why he was doing it. For the first
few years, I thought it was some flattering term
intended to boost my self-esteem.
Sometimes, he would shorten it and call me Cedric, and
it never bothered me because I knew from an early age
that my daddy had come from a time and place where
everyone, including himself, had a nickname.
Some of the nicknames were just a little more pleasant
than others. I wouldn’t dare go into some of the
nicknames I’ve heard him and others mention.
For whatever reason, I had never listened to an old-
time radio show called Lum & Abner closely enough to
put all these pieces together until just before my daddy
died in the summer of 2000.
That’s when it hit me: I needed to learn why he called
me Cedric Wolfgang Weehunt, and where in the world
did such a name come from?
Now, a full 10 years later, I’m finally getting around to
telling the world that my daddy had every right to call
me Cedric Wolfgang Weehunt.
It is because I am indeed as slow as poor old Cedric
ever dared to be.
Cedric was one of the leading characters of the old
radio show, the oldest son of “Kalup Weehunt,” and it
was well known around the little mountain town of Pine
Ridge, Ark., that Cedric had been kicked several times
by a mule.
Cedric was also a good-sized young man, “kind of big
for his age,” they called it in Pine Ridge.
To my daddy, that all sounded like me, so I became the
Cedric Wolfgang Weehunt at our little house at the end
of a dirt road in the middle of nowhere at Mohawk.
It was no big secret that I, too, had been kicked by a
mule once or twice in my younger days, and word had
spread quickly the few times I had been stepped on my
My feelings were crushed every time I was kicked or
stepped on, but I somehow managed to survive those
encounters with nothing worse than frayed nerves.
“Oh, yes, it was funny stuff,” my cousin, Frank
Gillette, of Greeneville, said when I asked him about
Cedric Wolfgang Weehunt.
Cousin Frank is 86 now, and he remembers old-time
radio shows such as Lum & Abner with impressive
“I wish they were still on,” he added. “I could use the
kind of laughs those Pine Ridge characters brought to
us while we were all wondering if the Great Depression
would ever end.”
It was comforting to hear Cousin Frank say he doesn’t
remember the days when my daddy called me Cedric.
“No, I can’t say that I do,” he said, “but you need to
remember that we were in Cleveland all those years
that you were growing up at Mohawk.”
There was, however, at least one person who
remembered, and her name was Clara Black. She
became my good friend early on, and she did her best to
tell the world that my name was not Cedric.
Sweet Clara and her husband, Noah, were wonderful
neighbors at Mohawk, and for some strange and
unknown reason, Clara picked me as her favorite kid
in the neighborhood.
She would secretly slip me nickels and dimes at a time
when I knew she needed them, but I took them
anyway. And she hugged on me a lot and I loved that,
Not many of the girls and ladies around Mohawk cared
enough to hug on me, but Clara seemed to know that I
would someday thank her by writing about her in the
Clara and Noah left Mohawk before I did, and we lost
all track of them. But I never forgot them. I would
often ask my mama if she ever heard from them. My
mama said she never did.
It was one of the thrills of my newspaper career when I
bumped into Clara one spring day in 1980.
She was shopping at a little grocery store on Depot
Street and I was looking for a story.
“Clara? Is that you, Clara?” I asked.
“Who wants to know?” she snapped.
I told her who I was and how I had not forgotten her,
how my mama loved to remember the good times they
shared at Mohawk. It made Clara happy when I told
her that we missed her a lot after she left Mohawk all
those years before.
“Does your daddy still call you Cedric Wolfgang
Weehunt?” was one of the first questions she asked me.
“No, Clara, he hasn’t called me that in years.”
“Well, that’s a good thing because I told your daddy
ages ago to stop calling you Cedric. I told everyone that
you didn't deserve a name like Cedric Wolfgang
Weehunt because I had heard that boy talk on the
radio and you don’t sound a thing like him.”
Clara died a few years later, but I still think of her
every time I go to Mohawk and catch a glimpse of the
spot where she and Noah lived.
Clara was my defender for a lifetime, but my daddy and
millions of other Americans loved Lum & Abner
enough to make it one of the most popular programs
during the Golden Age of Radio through the Great
Depression, World War II and on into the mid 1950s.
During a single week of special promotions in the
1930s, the program received more than 1.5 million
letters from fans and admirers who were struggling to
put food on the table and shoes on the kids.
A group of people from all over the country who call
themselves the National Lum and Abner Society are
working hard to keep the memories of the old show
alive for future generations.
One of them is Donnie Pitchford, of Carthage, Texas,
president of the society, who spends time every day
talking and writing to people such as me in order to
promote this unique brand of American humor.
“We think the Lum and Abner show is worth keeping
alive,” he said, “and we are willing to work as hard as it
takes to make it available to new audiences every day.”
As you might expect, there is an absolute library of
material on Lum and Abner, including well-researched
work by Pitchford and others in the society. There are
also back copies of the society’s publications available
through the various links listed on its Web site.
There hasn’t been a live broadcast of the show since
1954, but it is gaining new fans every day because
people such as Pitchford who are unwilling to let it fade
|Cedric Wolfgang Weehunt Gone From Radio, And
Gone From Mohawk, Too
|Long before she moved to Greeneville and began shopping at the old Shanks
Grocery on Depot Street, Clara Black and her husband, Noah, listened to the Lum
and Abner program on the radio at Mohawk in the 1950s. Jim Shanks, right, owned
and operated the old store before it was torn down to make way for the current
Greeneville Post Office. Clara was shopping with Jim in this scene from 1980.
SUN PHOTO BY BOB HURLEY
SUN FILE PHOTO BY BOB HURLEY
|Beginning in 1931, Chester "Chet" Lauck, left, as Lum Edwards, and Norris "Tuffy"
Goff as Abner Peabody were the creators, actors, writers, directors and
sound-effects men of the popular Lum and Abner program. The two entertained
Americans from their "Jot 'Em Down Store" in Pine Ridge, Arkansas during the
darkest days of the Great Depression and World War II. The show, which once
received more that 1.5 million letters in a single week, ended in 1954, but continues
to win new fans via the Internet. Goff died in 1978, and Lauck died two years later.
PHOTO SPECIAL TO SUN
|Just like it was in the days of old-time radio from the 1930s to the 1950s, Pine
Ridge, Arkansas is still a very small mountain town in the western part of the state.
But it is still home for the "Jot 'Em Down Store" at left and the "Lum and Abner
PHOTO SPECIAL TO SUN
|The NLAS "ossifers" say "Thank ya!" to Mr. Bob
Hurley and The Greeneville Sun of Greeneville,
Tennessee for this fine article, and also for
permission to post it as part of the National Lum and
Abner Society's Jot 'Em Down Journal. Visit The
Greeneville Sun on-line and tell 'em "Thank ya!"
yourself by clicking here:
THANK YA, GREENEVILLE SUN