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39-11-21 Smelly Clark Solicits Gifts

Rush seems envious of Smelly Clark, who wrote 24 letters to distant relatives and people he barely knew, with the subversive reasoning that perhaps a few of them would send him a Christmas present.

Smelly also has another racket going that will allow people to think he is buying them a gift, yet he has no plans to do so.
The Christmas spirit is in the air, and Smelly Clark has one goal: to get as many presents as possible. Rush tells Sade about his ingenious methods.

I see two flaws in Smelly’s methodology: one is that it would take a pretty credulous adult to believe that Smelly, a Depression-era teen, has the means to purchase topaz bracelets and high-powered automobile spotlights for them. Another is that this will only work for one year. If said credulous adults buy presents for Smelly because they believe him to have bought presents for them, and then they get zilch from Smelly, they’ll probably have wised up next year. Smelly’s just not thinking about the future here.

This episode brings up a philosophical question I always think of around Christmas time: if belief in a potential reward is the impetus for doing good in the world, is it still good? Even though Smelly’s motives are pretty horrid, one can’t deny that he is doing good by writing chatty letters to long-neglected relatives and handing out compliments all over town. Do one’s interior motives matter if one is effecting positive change in the world? Or would Smelly’s good deeds only be good if they were truly selfless? (Of course, another variable is how sincere Smelly’s acts seem to others…and given his past history of axle-grease and peach-butter, I don’t doubt that the townspeople can see right through him.)
SEE THE SCRIPT (transcribed by Lydia Crowe)
While Rush tells his mom he would never pull such stunts, you get the feeling that this is exactly what he would like to do. After all, what real harm is there in writing a few polite letters?

Vic is at the lodge, so again, we don't get to hear his ideas of Smelly's schemes.


+ Rush thinks he can receive 20 gifts at Christmas.

+ Rush says Smelly may receive as many as 220 Christmas presents.

+ Mis' Dover is mentioned for the first time in the surviving audio. She's "leaner these days."

Rush 'reads' an example of one of Smelly's letters: {{{HEAR}}}

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