Weird Words of Wisdom: “Take It on the Chin, Gal” Edition

“The more formal you are in your approach to the party, the better behaved your guests will probably be. Make them understand it’s a ‘party’ not a ‘gang-bang.’”

She-Manners, 1959 (1960 printing)
By Robert H. Loeb Jr.

K. Chin illustrated this book. The K. Chin best known for his 1970s artwork featuring cute animals? Probably. Like Loeb, Chin had an advertising background.

K. Chin illustrated this book. The K. Chin best known for his 1970s artwork featuring cute animals? Probably. Like Loeb, Chin had an advertising background.

About This Books and Its Author: A lot of people wrote advice books for teenage girls in the 1950s, and few of them had any special qualifications beyond magazine writing experience. Most of them, however, had lady parts. It took a certain amount of chutzpah for Robert H. Loeb Jr. to write a book aimed at girls (or, as he prefers to call them, gals.)

This dust-jacket blurb tells us as much about Loeb as I’ve been able to discover: “Bob’s a writer by profession, and an advertising man—no grey flannel suit, no Madison Avenue. And he used to be an editor for Esquire, when he also wrote Wolf in Chef’s Clothing, a hilarious cook book for men. Ah, then he turned his eyes upon the girls and said, ‘Say, they read, too, don’t they?’ That’s how he began. That’s how he dared.”

A writer and an advertising man? It’s as if Mad Men’s Ken Cosgrove wrote an advice book for teenage girls…which explains chapter titles like “The Wolf’s in the Trap—Wedding Time is Here” and “The Boss’ Lap is Not a Chair.”

Loeb is progressive on issues of racial and religious prejudice, devoting a whole chapter to the subject. The myths he sets out to debunk in that chapter are cringe-worthy reminders of how far society’s progressed: They include “The Negro in the United States has primitive morals,” “Negroes are not as clean as whites,” and “Jews have black curly hair and hooked noses. You can always tell a Jew.”

By 1950s standards, he’s even progressive on sex roles, admitting that they are social constructs and often unfair. In 1977, he would write a book called Breaking the Sex-Role Barrier. But his 1950s advice for dealing with male chauvinists doesn’t break any barriers: “Take in on the chin, gal. This is going to be with you always. We men have to stick together.”

Fun Fact: Loeb’s 1950 cookbook for men, Wolf in Chef’s Clothing, was reprinted in 2000. In this newspaper article, publisher Susan Schwartz describes the book and her decision to republish it—she sounds like a “gal” after my own heart.

Quotes from She-Manners

“Any man is wonderful if he is the man in your life.”

“Your best policy is always to accept the fact that (a boy) is a powerful giant, not matter what you may think. If you are able to beat him at tennis or golf or swimming, either don’t beat him or else beat him but tell him you know he’s not really trying or is just letting you win out of politeness. Let him maintain his powerful, caveman role.”

“To make (a boy) feel important, you have to forget your own desires for importance. Compliment him on his physical prowess, his mental acumen, his good looks, his virility. The worst mistake a girl can make is to make a man feel intellectually inferior or inadequate as a male. We men need  a lot of reassurance. So lay it on thick but subtly. Stoke his ego. Let him think he’s king much of the time. He will love you for it, and, you know, it will make you feel extremely feminine.”

“You know—men suffer from an odd sense of inferiority. They’re often terrified by smart women. This doesn’t mean you have to act the idiot role or the cute little ‘Oh, aren’t you smart!’ role. But it does mean that you can let him feel he is superior…The first evening you are together, don’t let him know you read Greek. Save that for next week. By that time he will like you so well that he won’t mind discovering you are an intellectual!”

“If you are a gal who uses frank, men’s locker room language—DON’T on this first date DON’T—EVER! Avoid shocking your date. Even if he uses such language and hears all the guys and dolls in the senior class using it, he wants his date to be better than the rest of the crowd.”

“(Many men will) grab you and kiss you on that first date, just to prove they can. This doesn’t mean they love you. It usually means they’re testing you. If a man can kiss you after a few minutes together, he has three reactions. One, he will think he’s irresistible. We men like to think that. Second, he will think you are an easy target. An easy target is not much to boast about. Third, he will wonder how many other men have had as easy a time as he. When he gets to that question, your market value drops.”

“The man has one set of standards for himself and another for you. He may consider himself a Don Juan for having succeeded in getting you to pet, but he will also decide that you’re too easy to get.”

On marriage: “Don’t be overanxious and feel that by the time you’re eighteen or twenty and have not been asked, you are on the shelf.”

k chin illustration 1Getting a guy to think about marriage: “Perhaps you can wangle an invitation for the two of you to dinner at the house of a happily married young couple? Or take him on a tour of home furnishing departments in the stores? Or on a lonely, romantic walk along the river? Or to an equally romantic formal dance? Maybe you can show him how well prepared you are for marriage—a good cook, a neat housekeeper, a gal who loves kiddies, a perfect hostess for a business or professional man?” Home furnishing departments? That’s really subtle.

At job interviews: “Don’t try to be overly glamorous, but don’t try to be the opposite extreme. You need not look like an old-fashioned eager beaver, all work and no-nonsense in the office…The male interviewer will probably be disinterested and think you’d not be much of an addition to the office décor.”

“If the (job) interviewer offers you a cigarette as a way of putting you at ease or as a gesture of friendship, then you may accept or not, as you wish.”

Fashion Tips (Yes, he even gives fashion tips)

“A word of warning—never overemphasize. A gal may have a terrific figure, but a homely face. So she overemphasizes her figure with tight sweaters and skirts, and walks with a hip-wiggle. All she gets are wolf whistles and leers. What she should have done was to make the best of her figure, since it is more attractive than her face, but not boast about her figure. And she should have realized that her face is not one half as ugly as she thinks.”

Suggested Wardrobe Essentials

2 long-sleeved pullover sweaters
2 long-sleeved cardigan sweaters
1 short-sleeved sweater or polo shirt or T-shirt
2 tailored shirts—1 solid color, 1 patterned
3 blouses—more feminine in styling
4 skirts—2 slim, 1 pleated, 1 full gathered
1 simple suit
1 jumper
2 date dresses—1 with discreetly covered top, preferably with small jacket; and 1 with low, round neck, décolleté style
2 simple dresses—to be dressed up with accessories for casual dates, street wear, or class
2 formals—1 long, 1 short
1 heavy all-purpose winter coat
1 dressier coat for church, dates, special functions
1 in-between coat for spring, summer, fall
1 bulky jacket or car coat
1 jacket to wear with skirts
2 pairs of slacks
2 pairs of Bermuda shorts

“Short short short shorts—no! In some towns and neighborhoods it’s against the law to wear short shorts in public.”

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Family Affair Friday: Season 1, Episode 20, “A Helping Hand,” 2/6/1967

Welcome to another installment of Family Affair Friday! This week’s episode may not have the best script, but it does have an amazing guest star.

Written by: John McGreevey. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

Nigel French hires a maid to help with a dinner party.

Hmm. that actress playing Adele the maid looks familiar. And those towels and that spice rack look so perfectly '60s.

Hmm. That actress playing Adele the maid looks familiar. And those towels and that spice rack look so perfectly ’60s.

He quickly discovers that she’s inept and tries to fire her, but she plays on his sympathy. He ends up covering for her mistakes–and he does it so effectively that a party guest who lives in building hires her.

This is the party guest in question. The party scenes give us an ususal angle on the Davis apartment, which is actually a pretty complex set.

This is the party guest in question. The party scenes give us an unusual angle on the Davis apartment, which is actually a pretty complex set.

French is subsequently called upon to rescue Adele from many disasters, from dog-devoured dinners to overflowing washing machines.

That casserole dish is another cute '60s piece.

That casserole dish is another cute ’60s piece. And Adele still looks familiar. Maybe she was one of those actresses who showed up on Dragnet repeatedly?

Meanwhile…doesn’t this show have some cute kids in it?

Oh, yeah, here they are. Let me just take a moment to praise Johnny Whitaker--he has such a sweet and guileless quality, especially in these early episodes.

Oh, yeah, here they are. Let me take a moment to praise Johnny Whitaker–he has such a sweet and guileless quality, especially in these early episodes.

Buffy and Jody are having some trouble building a model dam for school. Uncle Bill offers to help. His idea of helping, unfortunately, is doing the whole project by himself at work. (Actually, he admits to letting his co-workers do most of it.)

Well, dam.

Well, dam.

The teacher objects, of course.

French’s efforts to help Adele are similarly fruitless. Eventually, her employers discover her ineptitude. After they fire her, she tells off French, who regrets getting involved in the first place.

Now she's gone and I still don't know why she's so familiar. Maybe I've seen her on Bewitched. I know I've seen a similar plot on that show.

Now she’s gone and I still don’t know why she’s so familiar. Maybe I’ve seen her on Bewitched. I know I’ve seen a similar plot on that show.

Together, Uncle Bill and French decide the family motto should be “Don’t get involved.” (French wants to engrave it on his wall!)

Just then, Cissy enters the room and makes a spontaneous speech thanking Uncle Bill for his involvement, and bemoaning the lack of involvement the kids faced in Terre Haute.

Oh, Cissy. Always playing that orphan card.

Oh, Cissy…always playing that orphan card.

Her speech works, though. (It also provides a bit of foreshadowing for next week’s episode.) Uncle Bill is so moved he decides to stay home for the evening!

Now let’s watch the credits to see who played Adele.

Oh my God! That was Myrna freaking Loy?!

Oh my God! That was Myrna freaking Loy?!

Commentary: The first time I watched this episode as an adult, I really did spend the whole episode wondering how I knew the actress playing Adele. A familiar-looking guest star is a common thing on Family Affair. Usually, it just means that the actor in question made a bazillion ’60s TV guest appearances and played bit parts in dozens of movies.

Sadly, both the Adele role and the script are a waste of Loy’s talents. (Her performance is actually pretty flat, too–I think that’s one reason I didn’t immediately recognize her.) Every potentially interesting scene–from Adele’s flubs to the teacher’s reaction to the Davis dam–happens off camera. If they’d included those scenes, maybe I wouldn’t have spent all my time looking for interesting bits of set decoration.

Cute oven mitts. I think they match the dish towels.

Cute oven mitts. I think they match the dish towels.

Guest Cast

Adele: Myrna Loy. Sheila: June Vincent. Ken: Carleton Young. What to say about the beautiful Myrna Loy? She started in movies in 1925 and played exotic sirens during the silent era. In the 1930s she began playing the sophisticated comedy roles that made her famous. She is best known as Nora Charles in the Thin Man series of films. In the 1940s she starred in the charming comedies The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer and Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House and in the excellent World War II aftermath drama The Best Years of Our Lives. She continued working through the 1980s, mostly in TV movies, but Family Affair was one of few TV series appearances she ever made. Loy died in 1993.

Continuity Notes

Well, of course, there’s Cissy’s violin-backed speech about the lack of caring the kids experienced in Terre Haute. Jody also mentions the old hometown.

Fun Facts

Uncle Bill’s favorite dish is curried chicken. The twins like to eat “Sloppy Sams.” French prefers to call them “Untidy Samuels!”

One episode highlight--the cute exit Uncle Bill, Jody and Buffy make from Uncle Bill's room. I wonder whose idea it was. Director William D. Russell was not usually given to whimsy.

One episode highlight–the cute exit Uncle Bill, Jody and Buffy make from Uncle Bill’s room. I wonder whose idea it was. Director William D. Russell was not usually given to such whimsy.

Notable Quotes

Adele: “I’ve learned my lesson–never listen to a man.”

This Week’s Bonus Feature

Barbie Talk (Barbie Fan Magazine), March/April 1971 (The magazine doesn’t actually note its publication year. I’m guessing 1971 based on the dolls advertised in the magazine.)

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 1, Episode 19, “Fancy Free,” 1/30/1967

Sorry that I’m late with my Family Affair series this week–I was busy with my own adorable moppet yesterday. (Boy, would she hate hearing herself described that way.)

Written by: Douglas Tibbles and John McGreevey. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

Coming home from school, Buffy and Jody announce proudly that they have been promoted to “upper first grade.”

Of course, "upper first grade" isn't really a thing. Their school seems to be using "lower first grade" as a way to orient a constant influx of new students--a realistic-sounding situation at an urban public school.

Of course, “upper first grade” isn’t really a thing. Their school seems to be using “lower first grade” as a way to orient a constant influx of new students–a realistic-sounding situation at an urban public school.

They are disappointed that Uncle Bill is not there to share their joy–he’s working on a project in New Jersey.

He's also working on this Jerseylicious babe, who's caring for her niece when Bill first meets her.

He’s also working on this Jerseylicious babe, who’s caring for her niece when Bill first meets her. She’s an aunt, he’s an uncle–what could go wrong?

Meanwhile, the twins exult in their new, advanced textbooks.

dick and jane

Buffy and Jody have a genuinely funny exchange about their reading books.
Buffy: “We got promoted from Dick and Jane, and I’m glad–all they ever did was run and play.”
Jody, in mildly mocking tone: “And watch Spot. ‘Oh, see Spot.'”
Buffy: “Oh, see Spot run.”
Jody: “Run, Spot, run.”
Jones and Whitaker seem to enjoy their chance to be snarky.

They soon find themselves stumped by “the new math,” however. Their engineer uncle could probably help them, but he’s spending all his time across the Hudson with Meg, who turns out to be a liberated, marriage-hating free spirit who has no interest in even hearing about the twins’ problems.

From this glamour shot of Meg, Uncle Bill correctly divines that she is an avid sailor. What it tells me is that she went to a cheesy portrait studio.

From this glamour shot of Meg, Uncle Bill correctly divines that she is an avid sailor. What it tells me is that she went to a cheesy portrait studio.

So where can Buffy and Jody turn for help?

Heeeeeere's Johnny!

Heeeeeere’s Johnny!

I would scream, too, kids, if that appeared outside my 27th floor bedroomwindow and OPENED it. The fact that he talked with Winnie the Pooh's voice would only make it more terrifying.

I would scream, too, kids, if that guy appeared outside my 27th-floor bedroom window and OPENED it. The fact that he talked with Winnie the Pooh’s voice would only make it more terrifying.

Actually, Buffy and Jody are squealing with delight at the sight of their “friend,” Mr. Frack, the window washer. Mr. Frack says things like, “The difference between dumb and smart is how much you know,” so viewers quickly perceive where he falls on the dumb-smart divide. Naive Buffy and Jody, however, accept his help with their math homework.

Uncle Bill's still

Uncle Bill’s still living it up with Meg (in a nightclub with Family-Affair green walls! Meg’s home has them, too!) and even plans to spend the weekend on a boat with her before he departs on a two-week work trip to the Yucatan. (Don’t worry about Meg’s virtue. The script takes pains to tell us that other people will be on the boat, too, and that the men and women will have separate sleeping quarters.)

The school alerts Uncle Bill to the deplorable state of the twins’ math homework, and while he’s looking for answers, he happens to run into their “tutor.”

New math or no, it doesn't take Uncle Bill long to put two and two together.

It doesn’t take Uncle Bill long to put two and two together. (Amazingly, this episode misses its chance to do a math joke like that.)

He relieves Mr. Frack of his “helper” role while sparing the man’s feelings.

Meg, already dressed in her sailor suit,

Meg, already dressed in her sailor suit, is sad to hear that Bill is cancelling their plans so he can spend the weekend helping Buffy and Jody with math.

He assures her they’ll get together again sometime. I’m glad he doesn’t blow her off completely, even though I think he should be looking for more of a Fraulein Maria and less of a Baroness Schraeder now that he has kids.

thrilled

The kids, of course, are almost pathetically happy to learn Uncle Bill will spend the weekend with them.

Commentary

This isn’t a great episode, but it has some high points. I love Buffy and Jody’s conversation about Dick and Jane. Mr. Frack and Meg are both interesting characters. I like the way this script shows that Bill’s priorities have changed without demonized Meg for having different priorities.
We also get another chance to see Brian Keith’s rapport with child actors.

I like the obviously improvisd tickle he gives this girl, who doesn't seem comfortable in front of the camera.

I like the obviously improvised tickle he gives this girl, who doesn’t seem comfortable in front of the camera.

We also get to see him save a scene with Buffy and Jody.

blocking 1

Johnny Whitaker has walked too far forward, blocking Anissa Jones, who has the next line.

blocking 2

Brian Keith quickly moves Whitaker out of the way.

blocking 3

He then covers up the push with an affection rub of Whitaker’s face.

Guest Cast

Mr. Frack: Sterling Holloway. Meg: Kipp Hamilton. Tim: Roy Roberts. Sally: Andrea Sacino. Holloway was the voice of Winnie the Pooh in many movies, including some that Sebastian Cabot narrated. He was also the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, Roquefort in The Aristocrats, Kaa in The Jungle Book, Mr. Stork in Dumbo and Woodsy the Owl in many public service announcements. He had an extremely long career in films that spanned half a century and included such films as Meet John Doe and The Blue Bird. Notable was his role in 1945’s A Walk in the Sun. He also had a recurring role in The Adventures of Superman.

Hamilton’s most memorable TV guest appearance was as Pleasure O’Reilly in an episode of Bewitched. She seems to have quit acting shortly after this episode aired, around the time that her first husband died of a brain tumor.

Roberts also had a Bewitched connection–he played Darrin’s father. He had recurring roles in Petticoat Junction, Gunsmoke, The Lucy Show and The Beverly Hillbillies, among other shows.

Sacino was a voice in 1970’s special Santa Claus is Coming to Town. She appeared in several episodes of My Three Sons and had a regular role on a short-lived mid-sixties show called Many Happy Returns.

Fun Facts

Uncle Bill is an experienced sailor. Buffy and Jody are learning Spanish at school. (This is another nice touch of realism for a big city school. In West Virginia, the only Spanish we learned before 8th grade was what we could pick up on Sesame Street. On the plus side, I don’t think the “new math” ever found its way to us.)

Today’s Bonus Feature

TV Guide, October 1, 1966

This article describes Brian Keith’s unusual work schedule, which explains why Uncle Bill was away so frequently. (The article also reveals his early ambition to be a sailor and his problems with math–interesting in the context of this episode.)

Weird Words of Wisdom: An Occasional Mad, Crazy Hat Edition

mccalls

Welcome to my latest Weird Words of Wisdom post about a vintage advice book for teens–and to my 100th post on Embarrassing Treasures!

“Besides being clannish, boys are basically conservative, especially when they’re together…They may whistle at the girl in the low-cut red dress, but it’s the demure little one in blue they ask for a date.”

McCall’s Guide to Teen-Age Beauty and Glamour, 1959 (1965 printing)

About this Book: This is the kind of cheap paperback that you could find in drugstore racks back in the day. It must have sold well, since the copy I have is from its 10th printing. Much of its advice is not so much weird as delightfully dated—it includes admonitions to straighten stocking seams, tip ladies’ room attendants a quarter, and take care when eating “Italian spaghetti.”

About the Author: Betsy Keiffer was a writer and editor at McCall’s Magazine. Born Elisabeth Corrigan in 1923, she married a painter named Edwin Keiffer in 1950. You can read about their lives on a web site that their children created about their father’s work. Betsy Keiffer, who died in 2006, was also the sister of New Yorker writer Faith McNulty. McNulty’s 1980 bestseller The Burning Bed became a memorable TV movie vehicle for Farrah Fawcett.

Beauty and Fashion Tips

“Put a few drops of perfume on a bit of cotton and tuck it inside your bra.”

Evidence of the vanity sizing that has taken hold in recent decades: “Of course, if you’re neither tall nor short, but just in between, not thin, not plump but a perfect size 12, you’re incredibly lucky and you’ll look fine in anything from a bikini to a sheath.”

“Don’t ever lull yourself into thinking you can ‘get by’ with those faintly grimy gloves or collars one more day.”

Why I’m really glad that someone invented blow-dryers: “It never seems to fail that when you are planning to wash your hair tomorrow, it’s today that divine boy you just met asks you out. There isn’t time, of course, for a real shampoo and set—but there is help at hand. To remove some of the oil that makes it look so stringy, use the trick of a piece of cheesecloth on your hairbrush, backed up by a hundred firm strokes.”

“When you buy a hat, be sure it will go with the coat and suit you have, as well as with several of your dresses, that it’s becoming and that you feel comfortable in it. Don’t let the salesgirl sweet-talk you into something that makes you feel foolish once you get it home. (Not that I’m against an occasional mad, crazy hat—provided your face and budget can afford it. It can do wonders for morale.)”

If you have wide hips: “Above all, rule shorts and slacks out of your wardrobe. They were never meant for the hourglass figure.”

Some suggested meals for weight loss

Breakfast
½ tangerine
1 soft-boiled egg
1 slice toast
Buttermilk or skim milk (1 glass)

Lunch
Frankfurter with mustard, no roll
2 salted crackers
Medium orange

Dinner
1 medium hamburger, no bun
½ small baked potato with butter
2/3 cup cabbage salad with lemon juice
½ cup fruit cocktail
Buttermilk or skim milk (1 glass)

Getting Along with Boys

“The only grounds for not following a boy’s plans for the evening are if he suggests going to some place your parents have not given you permission to go or if he suggests some sport or activity you don’t know how to do.” (I can think of some other things that might be in a boy’s plans that a girl would be within her rights to refuse. Of course, “some sport or activity” could be euphemism for those things, but I doubt it based on the suggested response for girls: “Before we go, I’d better tell you that I’ve never bowled before in my life—but I’m game if you are.”)

“If he’s made plans for the evening, don’t try to change them, no matter how much you hanker to see the double feature at the Palace or to show off your beau to the gang at the Pizzateria. Boys resent bitterly, and they have every right to, the idea that they’re being manipulated or pushed around on a date.”

“If you’ve ever taken the time to do any reflecting about which girls are popular and which aren’t—and why—you have undoubtedly noticed that one characteristic popular girls have in common is the ability to be relaxed around boys. They are frank, but never frantic, in their attitude that men are wonderful creatures.”

Some Boy Pet Peeves to Avoid (Supposedly Submitted by Male College Freshmen)

“Dresses that look as though they’d been painted on.”

“A raucous voice or sloppy speech.”

“Stance like a football player’s in a huddle.”

“Underwear straps that show.”

“Charm bracelets that clank so they drown out conversation.”  That must involve a huge charm bracelet and some really wild gesturing.

“Dresses with necklines that end slightly above the waist.”

“Eye make-up that’s so extreme a girl looks like a Chinese vase instead of a girl!”

Other Weird Words of Wisdom posts you might enjoy

Boring Beth and Sunshiny Sue Edition

A Million and One Tricks with a Strand of Pearls Edition

Crisp White Gloves Edition

Family Affair Friday: Season 1, Episode 18, One for the Little Boy, 1/23/1967

Whew! After a stressful week, it’s a relief to turn my attention to the Davis family and my weekly Family Affair series. I hope it provides a pleasant distraction for you, too.

Episode 18, “One for the Little Boy” 1/23/1967

Written by: Austin and Irma Kalish. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

A lot of unusual things happen in this episode:

  • Buffy and Cissy wear slacks.
  • We see stock footage of a baseball game.
  • A doorman who’s not Scotty appears.
  • Someone pronounces “Terre Haute” correctly.

The most notable event in this episode, though, comes at the very start. Mr. French receives a summons from her Majesty to serve the royal family during a tour of Commonwealth capitals. (If he’s that connected, why is working for an engineer in New York, anyway?)

back from terre haute

The Davis family returns from a trip to Terre Haute to find him gone.

They don’t have to worry long about how they’ll survive with him—another Mr. French soon shows up to take his place. (In real life, Sebastian Cabot was ill.)

the other french

You’d think that a French swap might cause enough comic high jinx to sustain an episode. This episode’s plot, however, doesn’t really have anything to do with the arrival of Giles French’s brother Nigel.

Instead, this episode revolves around Jody. Spending most of his time with Cissy and Buffy has left him looking for some male bonding. And let’s face it, neither Mr. French is helpful when you want to play catch.

Ted Gaynor helps Bill realize that Jody needs some father-son time.

Ted explains that he was raised in an all-female household--or "petticoat jail," as he puts it. I always sensed that Ted had issues with women, and now I see where it started.

Ted explains that he was raised in an all-female household–or “petticoat jail,” as he puts it. I always sensed that Ted had issues with women, and now I see where it started.

Bill invites Jody to join him and Ted at a baseball game. Jody is thrilled to go, but the adults around him block his view of the action. Eventually, he falls asleep, missing Uncle Bill’s foul-ball catch.

Baseball has the same effect on me.

Baseball has the same effect on me.

Next, Bill plans a weekend fishing trip with Jody, but work threatens to interfere. When he hears that Buffy and Cissy are both inviting friends over on Saturday, Uncle Bill takes pity on Jody. He brings the boy along on his business trip to Rochester (Rock-chester, according to Jody) and plans to take him fishing when his work’s done.

I wonder where Uncle Bill found this nice matronly woman to watch Jody in Rochestr.

I wonder how Uncle Bill found this nice matronly woman to watch Jody in Rochester…and how he found a hotel with walls painted Family Affair green.

Everything on the trip goes wrong—Bill’s work drags on, the camper he’s rented for the fishing trip breaks down, and then they learn the lake where they’re headed has dried up.

bait lady

They learn about the lake from this bait store owner, who sure is a departure from most of the women we see on Family Affair.

Jody keeps saying he doesn’t mind, but Uncle Bill thinks he’s just too polite to confess his disappointment. Finally, Jody explains that just spending time with Uncle Bill made the trip enjoyable for him.

Awww. Cue th

Awww. Cue the Violins of Emotional Resonance.

Commentary

An Uncle Bill-and-Jody episode always warms the heart. Although Jody-centered, this episode has fun Buffy moments.

In this scene

In this scene, she struggles to button the back of her dress, then gives up and puts the dress on backwards.

She also exhibits realistic annoyance at Jody’s temporary monopoly on Uncle Bill.

And,

And apparently she has friends. Who knew?

Overall, this script abounds in cute lines. (For example, when Uncle Bill asks Jody how he can eat cereal without milk, Jody replies that you just have to chew harder.)

Guest Cast

Mr. Nigel French: John Williams. Ted Gaynor: John Hubbard. Proprietress: Katey Barrett. Doorman: David Brandon.

john williams credit

John Williams isn’t exactly a member of the guest cast. During his nine-episode tenure on the show, he takes over Sebastian Cabot’s spot in the credits (Which seems a little odd, actually.) Williams is an impressive fill-in. He had a long and distinguished career that was closely associated with director Alfred Hitchcock. His most memorable role was Inspector Hubbard in Dial M for Murder. (He had won a Tony for playing the same role on Broadway.) He also appeared in To Catch a Thief and in several episodes of TV’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Brandon would appear in several more Family Affair episodes.

Continuity Notes

Terre Haute, of course. Scotty is mentioned, though not seen. The presence of another doorman is explained–he’s the nighttime guy.

Notable Quotes: “Basically, I’m a cricket man.” Nigel French. “That’s okay, I like caterpillars.” Jody

“Sisters are always doing sister stuff.” Jody

Bonus Feature

TV Guide, April 22, 1967

This article includes a bit about the health problems that led to Sebastian Cabot’s nine-episode hiatus from the series.

Spin Again Sunday: The Game of Dragnet

dragnet boxI’ve been a big fan of Dragnet since I discovered the late 1960s episodes when I was about 10. When I started listening to old-time radio, Dragnet quickly became one of my favorites in that medium, too. So this Christmas, when my husband presented me with The Game of Dragnet, I was delighted. (By the way, it’s really hard to explain gifts like this to “normal” friends who get jewelry and cookware as presents.)

This Week’s Game: The Game of Dragnet, 1955, Transogram.

The Box: Sergeant Joe Friday, in black and white, gives us a rueful smile, while uniformed officers (in color) pursue a criminal nearby. Shouldn’t Friday be helping them? The box, board, and instructions all include the label “Badge 714” as a kind of subtitle. Remember when syndicated versions of shows that were still airing in prime time ran under alternate titles? Badge 714 was Dragnet’s syndication title.

The Promotional Blurb on the Box: “Do you have the instincts of a detective? Are you adept at interrogation, clever at deduction? You are! Then you must play this drama packed game! Here it is!—a realistic and exciting game of skill, deduction, and luck for teenagers and adults, based on DRAGNET, famous on radio, TV, and in the movies.”

This is actually only about one-fourth of the copy—it is the War and Peace of promotional blurbs.

dragnet board

The Board: The box copy also refers to this a “fascinating and absolutely unique game.” The board, however, is quite generic. Transogram and other companies often produced boards that they could re-purpose for subsequent games. All they would have to do to re-use this design is to swap out the center circle.

suspects dragnet cars

Two “suspects” flanked by police cars. Doesn’t that pink suspect look threatening? The green disc below is one of the numbered, interchangeable suspect bases.

Game Pieces: Six police squad cars in various colors and seven suspects. The latter are bell-shaped pieces of colored plastic that attach to interchangeable green bases. Each base bears a number.

Crime File Cards: The most interesting thing about these is that they have random holes punched in them. This mystified me until I read that in the instructions that they “simulate authentic key-punched police file cards.”

Then, of course, I had to seek out more information about key punching.

dragnet instructions

If you want to play this game, set aside an afternoon for reading the instructions.

Game Play: It’s kind of like Clue, but much more complicated. Before the game starts, suspects are attached to bases and planted at various Suspect Hideouts around the board. Each player receives three police file cards. Each player will try to collect three police file cards that fit the same crime—a crime card, a location card, and an evidence card. Each of these cards also has a number on it. When a player adds the three numbers on their three correct cards together, they will get the number of the suspect they are seeking

dragnet card 2Players move around the board in their squad cards. When they land on a Suspect Hideout, they can look at the suspect’s number and record it on their score pad. When they land on an Interrogation Post, they can ask a yes-or-no question about a suspect (i.e., is the red suspect’s number odd?), as long as they don’t ask directly what the number is. When they land on a Precinct Station, they can take police file cards from other players.

dragnet card 1Once a player has his three cards and knows his suspect’s number, he must go to that suspect’s hideout and then return to police headquarters to win the game.

Whew! Actually becoming a police detective might be simpler than playing this game.

My Thoughts: This looks like it could be fun, as long you invest the time necessary to master all the rules.

Other Spin Again Sunday posts you might enjoy:

Gomer Pyle Game

Charlie’s Angels Game

Waltons Game

Family Affair Friday: Episode 17, “All Around the Town,” 1/16/1967

Welcome to another installment in my weekly Family Affair series.

Episode 17, “All Around the Town” 1/16/1967

Written by: Douglas Tibbles. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

Ted Gaynor and his wife are leaving on a cruise, and Uncle Bill, the Davis children and Mr. French are all seeing them off.

You can tell from the twins' wardrobe that this episode will have a high cuteness quotient. Look at Buffy's outfit: The purse! The knee socks! The little white gloves!

You can tell from the twins’ wardrobe that this episode will have a high cuteness quotient. Look at Buffy’s outfit: The purse! The knee socks! The little white gloves!

While French and Cissy are elsewhere, Buffy and Jody hear Uncle Bill inviting “everyone” to dinner. He is talking to some clients who have joined him at the Gaynors’ bon voyage gathering, but the twins assume that the invitation includes them.

“Uncle Bill said everybody,” Buffy notes. “We’re everybody, just smaller.”

They run off to tell French and Cissy that they’ll be leaving the ship with Uncle Bill. This news delights French and Cissy–he wants to meet Miss Faversham for a poetry reading and she wants to attend a Velvet Vultures concert with Freddy.

These two are so relieved to escape child-care duty that they fail to question the plausibility of Bill inviting Buffy and Jody to a dinner with clients.

These two are so relieved to escape child-care duty that they fail to question the plausibility of Bill inviting Buffy and Jody to a dinner with clients.

After French and Cissy leave the ship, Buffy and Jody quickly realize that Uncle Bill has departed, too. Disembarking alone, they watch the ship sail away and then ponder their next move.

At this point, the twins find a $20 dollar bill. Bright children might realize that this money could help them get home. In this episode, however, Jody and Buffy (who has previously been shown doing multiplication) are so dim that it takes them a while to realize that a 2 and 0 together make 20.

At this point, the twins find a $20 dollar bill. Bright children might realize that this money could help them get home. In this episode, however, Jody and Buffy (who has previously been shown doing multiplication) are so dim that it takes them a while to realize that a 2 and 0 together make 20.

Thinking of a story in which Abraham Lincoln walked three miles to give back a nickel, the twins determine to find the money’s owner. Two exceptionally naive six-year-olds wandering around lower Manhattan waving money–no potential for trouble here.

Before long, the kids are hungry and tired.

Before long, the kids are hungry and tired.

Luckily, as the ship was pulling away from the dock, Mrs. Gaynor spotted Buffy and Jody standing alone. Eventually, she convinces her skeptical husband to contact Bill and check on the kids.

We've seen Ted Gaynor several times, but this is our first look at Mrs. Gaynor. Ted totally seems like the kind of guy who would dump her for a younger model.

We’ve seen Ted Gaynor several times, but this is our first look at Mrs. Gaynor. Ted totally seems like the kind of guy who would dump her for a younger model.

Over a three-hour period, Uncle Bill tries to call home but gets no answer.

Concern about what's happening at home preoccupies him when he finally goes out for dinner with the clients he talked to earlier.

Concern about what’s happening at home preoccupies him when he finally goes out for dinner with the clients he talked to earlier.

Finally, he calls Scotty the doorman and learns the French returned from the ship alone and then left the apartment again at 3:30.

(Here’s what I don’t get–French must have left the ship by around 3 p.m. at the latest. Didn’t it seem odd to him that Uncle Bill was going to “dinner” at that hour?)

By the time all the adults meet up again, panic has understandably set in.

By the time all the adults meet up again, panic has understandably set in.

Uncle Bill calls the police.

Meanwhile, darkness has fallen and the twins are scared--so scared that it occurs to them that getting home should really be their first priority, rather than finding the money's owner.

Meanwhile, darkness has fallen and the twins are scared–so scared that it occurs to them that getting home should really be their first priority, rather than finding the money’s owner.

At last, the kids meet a kindly stranger who helps them find their apartment.

How he managed to get them home is a mystery, since they don't know their phone number or their address or even the name of their street, except that it has a 6 and a 2 in it.

How he manages to get the twins home is a mystery, since they don’t know their phone number or their address or even the name of their street, except that it has a 6 and a 2 in it. Sheesh–and they let these kids wander freely around their own city block! Uncle Bill isn’t kidding when he makes all those speeches about not knowing the first thing about parenting.

Somehow, the twins do make it home, to everyone’s relief. Buffy offers her benefactor the $20, and Uncle Bill encourages the reluctant man to take it as a reward. He also promises the man, who is a stone mason, future work opportunities.

Uncle Bill reassures the kids that he's not mad at them. If I were him, I would be pretty pissed at French--he should never have taken off without confirming the children's arrangements.

Uncle Bill reassures the kids that he’s not mad at them. If I were him, I would be pretty pissed at French–he should never have taken off without confirming the children’s arrangements.

Commentary

Implausibilities and inconsistencies aside, this is a favorite episode of mine. It’s scary to watch Buffy and Jody wandering the big city on their own. It’s also touching to watch Jody comforting a scared Buffy.

I like this dark alley shot--it's a change from your usual Family Affair atmosphere.

I like this dark alley shot–it’s a change from your usual Family Affair atmosphere.

Guest cast

Jose: Harry Davis. Ted Gaynor: John Hubbard. Mrs. Florence Gaynor: Andrea King. Scotty: Karl Lukas. Policeman: Vic Tayback. Frenchman: George Dega. Frenchwoman: Danielle Aubry. Chestnut Man: Jack Tesler. Mr. Carvallo: Rodolfo Hoyos. Mr. Gonzales: Gerardo de Cordovia. Mr. Goya: Saverio Lo Medico. Chinese Chef: Tommy Lee. Delivery Man: Harold Fong. Miss Faversham: Heather Angel. Whew! That’s a huge guest cast, with a lot of ethnic diversity.

Random Heather Angel image: It's nice to see Miss Faversham out of her nanny suit.

Random Heather Angel image: It’s nice to see Miss Faversham out of her nanny suit.

Continuity Notes

Vic Tayback’s policeman from Episode 8 returns. We also get Scotty, Ted Gaynor, the Velvet Vultures, a Freddy mention, and a (fuzzy) reference to the Davis address.

Notable Quotes

“Maybe New York is a foreign country.”–Jody, after he tries to communicate with a French couple in the park.

(Actually, New York was like a foreign country to me when I watched this show as a kid. Episodes like this fascinated me because they gave me a glimpse, admittedly distorted, of how city kids lived.)

Today’s Bonus Feature

TV Guide, May 31, 1969