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40-03-19 Bess Letter; Grocery List on Top


Sade practically forces the boys to listen to a letter her sister Bess has written. They seem to know every line by heart - until Bess throws them curve balls by repeating things and confusing Rush with other kinfolk.

This episode is reminiscent of 39-xx-xx Letter To Walter where Sade gets mad at the boys for not wanting to write Bess' husband Walter.
Sade reads a letter from Aunt Bess.
Not a whole lot happens in this episode, but I’m always amused by the little secret we find out about Vic: he actually likes Third Lieutenant Stanley novels. He asks to see Rush’s newest Clinton Stanley volume and Rush refuses to give it to him, claiming he’d start to read it and get absorbed and Rush wouldn’t get it back all night. I get the feeling Rush speaks from past experience. I also get the feeling that they wouldn’t have had this conversation had Sade been in the room (Sade has always made it clear that she thinks Third Lieutenant Stanley is the stupidest trash she’s ever heard). It’s a secret just between Rush and Vic.
Another interesting nugget in this episode is this story Bess tells about an unconventional marriage arrangement:
SADE: […] “Well, Sadie, Ida Hoogle married George Crossfeeple after all these years. The weddin’ was last Tuesday. I went with Mrs. Johnson. Walter couldn’t leave the shop. They done kind of a queer thing that was wrote up in the Freeport paper. Instead of Ida changin’ her name to Crossfeeple, George changed his name to Hoogle.” [giggles] That is queer.
VIC: The husband took the wife’s name instead of the other way ‘round?
SADE: Yeah.
VIC: [chuckles]
SADE: “They even changed the sign on the meat market. Instead of Crossfeeple’s Butcher Shop, it is now Hoogle’s Butcher Shop. Lotsa people in Carberry don’t like it a bit. How is Vic? […]
I’ve commented before on Paul Rhymer’s treatment of women in this show, which seems ahead of its time in some ways. This is a good example. The husband taking the wife’s name is a rare arrangement even today — more often, the wife keeps her maiden name or the couple hyphenates the name. It would have been almost unheard of in 1940. But it’s certainly a fair arrangement — if one person has to change his/her name, the couple should at least be able to choose which name to take. Perhaps George and Ida are early feminists. And what makes this seemingly throwaway story especially compelling is the main characters’ reactions to it. Bess comments that the arrangement is “queer” and that a lot of people in Carberry were unhappy about it, but offers no judgment or opinion of her own — she simply presents the news to Sade as a disinterested party. And Vic and Sade’s response? Slight amusement, sure, but not even a hint of disapproval or judgment. It’s unusual to them, but their minds seem, at least, to be open to it. I think this says a lot about Vic and Sade as characters, and about Paul Rhymer as a writer.
 SEE THE SCRIPT (transcribed by Lydia Crowe)

This may be wrong and might should go unsaid but I think Bess and her husband Walter are both a little nuts.

This episode is neatly balanced between Sade's reading of the letter and Rush's reading of Third Lieutenant Stanley's book. Rush believes this is the best book in the series and who can argue - as at one point of the story, Rush reads about clothes being made out of money (and stamps!) {{{HEAR}}}

To top off this episode, it ends in a Monty Python sort a way, something that happens occasionally I've noticed in the surviving episodes; both Paul Rhymer and the Python crew have been noted as comedy geniuses - but have they ever been compared in print?


+ The Third Lieutenant Stanley book Rush reads from has been borrowed from Blue Tooth Johnson and is entitled: Third Lieutenant Stanley in the United States or Outwitting the New York Stock Market Plungers.

+ Ridiculousness: at one point Rush reads where Third Lieutenant Stanley gave his sweetheart a bicycle made out of solid gold.

+ Absent-mided Bess had written a grocery list on top of the letter she had mailed to Sade. The items on the list were apples, matches, potatoes, starch and salt.

+ Esther and Muddy are mentioned for the first time. They live in Milwaukee.
Often Rush tries to join a conversation, only to be cut off or considered rude at his interruption. Another problem for Rush is in the way that Sade accuses him of never finishing anything, not realizing that she has once again cut him off, and prevented him from reading from his book.

One thing boys love is comic books, and the kind of pulp fiction that came from this era of history.

Before Sade took over the episode with her letter reading, Rush was actually encouraged by Vic to read from his Third Lieutenant Stanley book. The borrowed book being so interesting that Rush feared that Vic might take it away for himself to read.

Personally, even though he sometimes scoffs at the pulp fiction, I think Vic might enjoy the hero on some deep down level. When it comes to being faced with another letter reading by Sade, I’m sure he’d rather hear about Third Lieutenant Stanley. He’s just to afraid to stand up to Sade. The fight wouldn’t be worth it.

In this installment of Third Lieutenant Stanley, the hero is as impressively tough as ever, even more so in the opinion of Rush. Thord Lieutenant Stanley is stylish, tosses money around like it's nothing. He gives his countess girlfriend a dress made of money, with jewelry made of silver dollars, and a solid gold bicycle. Not a lot of swashbuckling action, but the kind of extravagance designed to excite impressionable minds, without questioning the feasibility of the extreme exploits.

This is one of the more lengthy readings from the world of Third Lieutenant Stanley. If the crazy and absurd happeneings at the house halfway up the next block might be considered normal, the extreme world of Third Lieutenant Stanley is just the universe for kids like Rush to escape into. - KEITH HELTSLEY@ Retro Radio Podcast
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