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Howdy! Will Rogers said, “There are three kinds of men: The one that learns by
Will Rogers. reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” Another funny philosopher is John Buttram. We chatted t’other night, the old-fashioned way, on the telephone. He said he was reading my column until his lips got tired. He changed the name of his bathroom from John to Jim—Now he tells folks, “I get up in the morning and go to the Jim.” He’s a devout student of British history. The cheer ‘Hooray For Our Side!’ originated in Coventry, when Lady Godiva made her famous bareback ride. Imagine all the fun if John and his Uncle Pat Buttram had MC’d the Oscars. “And the winner is…Narrow Street!” “Er, Pat, that’s Meryl Streep”.

My blessings are mostly folks who have touched my heart, etched their way onto my soul. Norman Abbott’s (below) a blessing. He directed me as Dagwood on “Blondie” TV shows. Half a season in, “Daniel Boone” knocked us off. Ol’ Dan’l shot a b’ar—Me, too. Babs and I never visited Fess Parker’s hotel. Who wants to swim in a Fess pool? Norm Abbott really worked us. Robert Horton said directors are foremen, grindin’ out
Norman Abbott. product under budget. Horton only recalled one nifty bit of direction. In a scene with a pretty gal, director Richard Fleischer said, “Bob, during this tender moment, as you speak your lines, why not take off your chaps?” I was a guest at Mr. and Mrs. Norm Abbott’s home a few times, once for a surprise birthday party honoring Norm’s Uncle Bud Abbott. “Blondie” was discarded like a squeezed lemon. Norm invited me to Nickodell’s in Hollywood for a power lunch. Writer-Producer-Director Hal Kanter broke bread with us. Norm said, “Any ideas for Hutch, Hal?” “Yeah, Hutch could host a TV special. He’d be a tour guide down a Beverly Hills alley showing the audience trash of the stars. Here’s Desi Arnaz’ shredded tutti-frutti shirt that he wore while singing Babaloo. Here’s Jack Benny’s toupe—the cat attacked it. Here’s the second addition of volume nine of Warren Beatty’s own private book of phone numbers.”

Another blessing, getting a letter from one of my favorite co-workers, Bill Phipps (below), gleefully recollecting playing Edgar Hoyt on “Sugarfoot”’s “Canary Kid” episodes, created by the great Montgomery Pittman. Canary’s in the hoosegow. He wants out. Hoyt distracts the sheriff. Hoyt stands in the town square and screams “I hate
Bill Phipps. Texans!”
This attracts the attention of Ty “Bronco” Hardin. A riot ensues, and Canary makes a quiet exit. Dear lovely Lisa Gaye plays Mrs. Brimstone Hoyt, formerly one of Canary’s gang. She’s gone straight and taken a reluctant Edgar Hoyt with her. They now run a millinery shop in town, much to the humiliation of hoodlum hombre Hoyt. At episode’s finale, Hoyt makes a break for freedom—with a flying mount. He and horse skedaddle in a cloud o’ dust. My favorite “Sugarfoot” ending, a strictly slapstick offering in which no animals were harmed nor any characters killed. Bill Phipps is aces in my book, a triple-A guy, an authentic, athletic actor!

Babs and I were dragged, diggin’ our heels, yellin’ ‘n screamin’, into the 21st Century. Got ourselves one of these newfangled laptops. Amusin’ ‘n confusin’, astoundin’ ‘n confoundin’. Babs knows how to work it. A miracle, one of the great inventions, right up there with indoor privies. No more shut-ins. Jes’ turn it on, and you’ve got the whole world on your lap.

We want to share with you a true story that a pal emailed us: Western stagecoach companies were big business in late 19th Century America, hauling passengers, freight, gold, silver, payrolls. Natch, stagecoach robbery was a constant danger. Gangs smelled Wells Fargo money boxes. They divested passengers of cash, watches, jewelry. Rugged teamsters reined over six wild-eyed hosses, rippin’ along precipitous mountain passes, a clippity-clop. Charles Parkhurst was one of the most skilled and fearless drivers,
Charles Parkhurst. pushing himself and his spirited steeds, his reputation with a whip growing. He could slice open an envelope or cut a cigar out of a man’s mouth at 20 paces. Ol’ Parkhurst smoked, chawed, cussed, guzzled rotgut with the best of ‘em. His confidence, judgment, good fellowship won him a host of compadres. Charley Parkhurst had no patience for highwaymen with their shotguns pointing, shouting “Throw down the gold box!” The most dastardly highwayman was nicknamed Sugarfoot. One bright, sunny day ol’ Sugar and his gang ambushed Charley’s stage. Hah! Charley cracked his whip, the hosses bolting. Charley unholstered his sixgun—Blam! A bullet in his gut, Sugarfoot lay dead in the dust. Wells Fargo presented Parkhurst a solid gold watch and chain. In 1865 he retired, opened his own stage station, sold it, and moved to a ranch near Soquel, CA. Charley died on December 29, 1879, age 67. Charley’s buried in the Watsonville, CA, cemetery. The Sacramento DAILY NEWS published his obit: “He was in early days accounted one of the most expert manipulators of the reins who ever sat on the box of a coach.” It was discovered, when friendly hands were preparing him for his final rest, that Charley Parkhurst was unmistakably a well-developed woman! “Mehaw!” yelled Clem Weatherby. “I knowed he was different!” Charley wore gloves winter and summer to cover his small, smooth hands. He wore loose-fitting duds. Never had a gal. Slept in stalls with the hosses. After one hoss kicked him, an eye patch concealed half his face. Weighing 175 lbs, he was handy with his fists. His real name was Charlotte Parkhurst. She ran away from a New Hampshire orphanage at 15 and soon discovered that life in the working world was easier for men—so her masquerade began. That’s her story. Oh! One more thing: On November 3, 1868 Charlotte Parkhurst cast her vote in a national election, dressed as Charley Parkhurst. She was the first woman to vote in the USA, 52 years before congress passed the 19th amendment, giving American women the right to vote. ‘Twould make quite a flick. Steve St. John thinks Joan Crawford on steroids coulda played Charley/Charlotte. I opt for Meryl Streep—she can play anything, even an oboe, I suspect.

Well, dear readers out thar, without further adieu, I bid you a fond adios. I count y’all as my blessings.