My Five Favorite…Gunsmoke Radio Episodes

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Over the next month, I will be honoring the premiere anniversaries of many classic TV shows. Check back frequently for episode recaps, fan magazine articles, special editions of Spin Again Sunday, and more. I will also be posting unique content on Facebook and Instagram.

The classic Western Gunsmoke launched its 20-year TV run on September 10, 1955. To observe its anniversary, I’m cheating a bit and focusing on the radio version that pre-dated it. I always enjoyed TV’s Gunsmoke, which I discovered while in my teens. (Mostly, I enjoyed watching for little shippy moments between Matt and Kitty.) The radio version, though, blows me away with its darker Western vision. Bill Conrad conveys an especially wide range of emotion as Matt Dillon.

I’m also cheating a bit in naming favorite episodes because I haven’t listened to the entire radio run. (I dread the day when I have no new episodes left to discover.) Furthermore, I love so many episodes that my “favorites” list could change from day to day. These five episodes are excellent, though, and each evokes a different mood.

1. “Home Surgery,” September 13, 1952

“I rolled a smoke and looked out across the flat distances of the prairie. And I wondered how anyone could survive in all that emptiness.”

When Matt and Chester come upon an isolated homesteader suffering from blood poisoning, Matt takes desperate measures to try to save him. Conrad’s performance is appropriately tortured, especially in the scene just following surgery.

2. “Kitty,” November 29, 1952:

“She was like a seventeen-year-old on her first date. She was like all the women you’d ever known or loved–soft and innocent.”

Matt asks Kitty to be his date at a benefit for the school. She appreciates the problems this will cause, if he doesn’t. This episode gives us a giddy and romantic side of Matt. He even sings at one point!

3. “There Never Was a Horse,” September 19, 1953:

“I sure don’t like the idea of dying…but I got over being afraid of it a long time ago.”

A gun-fighter rides into town, bent on challenging the marshal. Matt’s not sure that he can win a confrontation, so Conrad’s performance is a believable mix of vulnerability and strength.

4. “Fawn,” September 26, 1953:

“I never heard of sending a woman to Dodge, for her to be better off.”

A woman held captive by the Cheyenne for 10 years gets her freedom and travels to Dodge to wait for her husband. The daughter she had in captivity is with her, and they face hostility from many quarters. This episode has a good message, a sweet ending, and a nice supporting performance by John Dehner. It’s also a radio Gunsmoke rarity–an episode with no deaths.

You may remember Helen Kleeb, who plays the former captive, as Mamie Baldwin from The Waltons. Mamie was the darker-haired Baldwin sister who wasn’t obsessed with Ashley Longworth.

5. “Marshal Proudfoot,” July 20, 1958:

“Chester bordered on being ignorant, I think. I can’t imagine how he ever got to be a marshal.”

Chester’s father shows up looking his son, whose letters home have exaggerated his position in Dodge. This is a hilarious outing. (For personal reasons, I also like the PSA that mentions the land-grant act.)

Bonus Feature

Turning back to the the TV show, I present this article about James Arness from TV Star Parade, May 1963. As fan magazine stories go, it’s a dramatic one, and it would have sad echoes–Arness’ first wife later died of a drug overdose, as did his daughter.

Other posts you might enjoy:

Those Magnificent Cats in Their Flying Machines

A Snapped-Worthy 1920s True Story

CSI, 1940s Style


Weird (and Wonderful) Words of Wisdom: Special Year-End Edition, Part 2

In My Opinion: The Seventeen Book of Very Important Persons, 1966
Edited by Enid Haupt

Today, we receive more wisdom from the 20th century’s cultural leaders, courtesy of Seventeen Magazine. As I told you last week, this book comprises essays from the magazine’s long-running “Talk to Teens” column. Seventeen Editor Enid Haupt edited this book. I hope you will gain some year-end inspiration–and a bit of amusement–from these quotes.

(You’ll noticed I included Joan Crawford quotes in each part of this edition. Her whole essay is a gold mine. She even starts it with a dig at one of her daughters–most likely Christina–for wanting to achieve stardom without doing all the hard work it requires.)

Next week, Weird Words of Wisdom will revert to what it does best–mocking vintage teen advice books.

Quotes from In My Opinion

Vance Packard

Vance Packard

“In my travels during the past year I have found myself talking with at least a dozen women I knew as teenage girls. Some, I must confess, have not aged very gracefully. What impresses me most is that those who were most conspicuously girls of strong-minded integrity then are the most delightfully stimulating adults today.”

Vance Packard, journalist and social critic, author of The Hidden Persuaders, a groundbreaking work about advertising

Shelley Winters

Shelley Winters

“Although I am no longer the blonde bombshell of my early career, I often find myself acting that part because I feel I won’t be accepted as an educated, intelligent woman. These feelings limit my social world considerably. The discipline of study, of developing your mind so that it wants to study and likes to and considers it fun, which I have seen in many young people, I have never acquired. These feelings of inadequacy have made me make life decisions which have proved to be terribly serious mistakes.”

Shelley Winters, Academy Award-winning actress

Artur Rubinstein

Artur Rubinstein

“American girls marry much too young. I don’t believe a girl should marry until she finds the right person, and knows it deeply. I don’t care if she doesn’t marry until she is 35.”

Artur Rubinstein, pianist

Dr. J. Roswell Gallagher

Dr. J. Roswell Gallagher

“If these are your primary concerns–amounting to something and getting high marks–if you put these first and all else subordinate to them, what may this do to your feminine feelings and attitudes and role, to your regard for what is really good and really important, and to those people who cannot achieve your sort of success?”

Dr. J Roswell Gallagher, Boston physician specializing in adolescents

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford

“Most women look as if they dressed in the dark and made up in a closet. They needn’t, for the essence of chic is simplicity. Chic begins with cleanliness–that wonderful sense of being freshly bathed and powdered and perfumed.”

Joan Crawford, Academy Award-winning actress

Philip Roth

Philip Roth

“Novels do not pussyfoot around. They can leave you sulky, angry, fearful and desperate. They can leave you dissatisfied with the life you are living. Sometimes, upon finishing a book, you can’t help but dislike yourself–for being smug or narrow or callous or unambitious…Novels can make you skeptical and doubting–of your family, of your religion, of your country; they can reveal to you that the kind of person you happen to be or think you want to be isn’t really worth being.”

Philip Roth, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist

Rosalind Russell

Rosalind Russell

“You’ll know us (parents) by the pride in our eyes and by our outstretched arms. No, we won’t smother you. We promise. We want to stand by you, not over you. We want to talk with you, not dictate to you. We want to talk frankly, not nag you. We want to discipline you because we’re supposed to. We want your cooperation to help us be better parents. We want your respect, and most of us know we must earn that respect. We want you to forgive our mistakes or at least try to overlook them. Above all, we want to love you, and you cannot deny us this because we loved you first.”

Rosalind Russell, Tony Award-winning actress

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger

“Travel while you are young and still are free of responsibilities. See what a big, broad, beautiful land we have here, then maybe a foreign land or two. See that there are honest, hard-working people in every corner of the globe, all quite certain that their own way of living, their local geography, their music, etc, is the most beautiful.”

Pete Seeger, folk singer

Jean Dalrymple

Jean Dalrymple

“Seventeen is a darling age…It is an age to enjoy, to savor and to appreciate, especially if you are a girl, because then you are lovely. Everything about you is fresh and springlike–your body, your mind, and your soul.”

Jean Dalrymple, playwright and theatrical producer

Rod Serling

Rod Serling

“Only the Lord knows how many adults are forced into psychoanalysis at age thirty-five because of sweeping a problem under the rug at age twelve or thirteen.”

Rod Serling, television producer


“Like morality, good taste recognizes the existence of other people. Good taste requires that we care about other people’s feelings sufficiently to discipline our behavior.”

Rosemary Park, president of Barnard College at the time this book was written

Eileen Farrell

Eileen Farrell

“The successful human being, as I see him, is willing, even eager, to expose himself to new experiences and ideas. He welcomes contact not only with those who agree with him, but with those who don’t–not necessarily to persuade them to his way of thinking (though that’s always a possibility) but to learn something about theirs. That’s the only way to replace prejudices that create fear–with the knowledge born of conviction that gives courage. And with courage, everything is possible!”

Eileen Farrell, concert and opera soprano

Other Weird Words of Wisdom posts you might enjoy

Attending to Our Bodily Housekeeping Edition

Betty Betz and Vintage Teen Etiquette That Rhymes Edition

Big Splendid Manhood Edition

Teen ‘Zine Scene: Co-Ed, December 1959

Welcome to a new feature that will occasionally substitute for my weekly series Weird Words of Wisdom.

Readers of that series know about my interest in the teenage experience–and especially in the messages that adults have provided to teens through the years. Fueled by this interest, I have amassed a collection of vintage advice books for teens, as well as vintage teen magazines. Today, we will explore one of these magazines.

Co-Ed is a publication we’ve encountered before. Published by Scholastic from 1957 to 1985, Co-Ed targeted girls in home economics classes–both “career girls and homemakers,” as the cover states.

This 1959 Christmas issue includes an out-of-this-world mid-century gift guide; lots of holiday food, decorating, and fashion ideas; and fearless predictions about the brave new world of 1980. All this and Gay Head, too!

So park your bird-car, get comfortable in your underground burrow, cozy up to your atomic brain, and let’s dive in to Christmas 1959. We’ll start with a closer look at this magazine’s cover. Perhaps we can glean some subtle clues about its original owner.


As we approach a new year, we all reflect on the past and wonder about the future. In 1959, Co-Ed asked both girls and boys to envision the far-away world of 1980. (They couldn’t just ask girls. They didn’t want all the predictions to focus on fashion, beauty, and child care.)

Answers ranged from the modest but accurate (women will increasingly wear slacks instead of skirts) to the more inventive ones here:

  • “The home will no longer be recognized as a place where children are supposed to grow up. Instead, all children will be raised in institutions as wards of the state.”
  • “There will be no United States, or Russia, or England, in 1980. Instead, everyone will live underground in ‘Moleland.’ All the governments on Earth will unite, and a single government will rule our underground world. There will be no wars on (or rather inside) Earth, because everyone will be busy defending themselves against attacks from outer space.”
  • Instead of just watching a movie “in 1980, we’ll be able to smell and feel what’s going on in the movie, too. Seats will have metal bars on each arm rest. The moviegoer will grip these bars with his hands and ‘feel’ what’s happening in the through a series of mild electric shocks. The smells will be released into the air from little casings on the film strips.”
  • “In 1980, people will have a different type of house for every season. They’ll just pick up the telephone and order a house like they now order a blouse or a shirt from a department store.”
  • “School will probably be taught by electrically controlled robots instead of by human teachers.”
  • “People will spend their vacations on the moon or one of the planets.”
  • “Cars will probably be shaped like birds, and will travel so fast that they’ll seem to be flying. Women will be able to hop on an airplane in the morning, spend the day shopping in Paris, and make the return trip in time to cook supper!”
  • “When a person wants to move to another city in 1980, he’ll probably just have to push a button and his entire house will fold up. He’ll then pack it in his helicopter, hop in, and he’ll be on his way!”
  • “I read somewhere that a person will live longer if he works for three or four years, then has a vacation for the next year. Perhaps this will be the common practice by 1980.”
  • “Encyclopedias and reference books will not be needed in 1980, because every family will have its own atomic brain. If Johnny wants to know where Egypt is, he’ll just ask the brain.”

Okay, if you replace 1980 with 2000, and atomic brain with Internet, that last one was actually pretty good. Way to go, Michael O’Connor from Oakland, California!

Co-Ed’s editors made some predictions, too, about “fabrics of the future.” They envision chemical fibers “which will shrink or grow on the wearer, so there will be no need for clothing alterations.” They also imagine clothing that adjusts to the surrounding temperature, keeping the wearer comfortable in any environment. By what date do they anticipate these innovations being available? 1970!

Other tidbits in this issue

  • Co-Ed builds international awareness by introducing readers to Maria from the Austrian Tyrol. Sample wisdom: “Austrians love to eat and Maria is no exception.”
  • Household hint: “Slip plastic bags over your hands when shaping popcorn balls.”
  • Potential career path: “Beginning registered nurses earn $3,400 to $3,600 a year…some jobs include all or some meals; others include room and all meals.”
  • Hairstyling hint: If your face is heart-shaped, “wear your hair medium to long. Wear it smooth at the temples, on top, and at the cheek bones. Choose fluff below or behind the ears, but avoid fluff at the temples.”

We close our look at this magazine with the work of our favorite teenage advice columnist, Gay Head.

gay head

Join the Army, Gals–You Can Bring Your Wigs!

When a young woman is considering joining the military, she has lots of questions–about her hair. At least, that’s what the “girls” of the Women’s Army Corp believed in 1970. Because this is Veteran’s Day in the U.S., I would like to salute all the men and women who have served their country; the sacrifices they have made go far beyond hair care.

Carole Lombard, October 6, 1908-January 16, 1942

Carole Lombard was born on this date in 1908. I’ve always felt that, though she certainly had Golden-Age-Hollywood glamor, she also had a strangely modern quality–I can envision her as a 21st century movie star. Dell published this special magazine in 1942 after her death.

Weird Words of Wisdom: Chaperoned Edition

“The question of chaperons will surely come up. It’s a fact that most teen-agers prefer to go to a party that’s chaperoned.”

Party Perfect by Gay Head, 1959 (3rd printing, 1962)

Yes, the author’s name is Gay Head. My “Top Searches” should be interesting this week.

About the Book: Dust off your records and start pressing your suit— we’re going to party like it’s 1959! This slim Scholastic volume is filled with party-planning tips, from entertainment (“No evening’s program of games is complete without a relay race”) to wardrobe (“Dress up in your best date dress and tell your girl friends to do the same. Jacket and tie for the boys. After all, part of the fun of a party is being dressed right for the occasion. You’ll all enjoy yourselves more if you do.”)

Sample Party Themes:

  • A United Nations get-together. You assign each guest a country, and they dress accordingly: “A girl can look like a Mexican senorita by wearing a colorful, full cotton skirt, a pretty blouse, and hoop earrings. To be a gaucho, a boy might wear dark trousers, a colorful shirt, and a cumberbund.”
  • A space party: “By Jupiter—be the first one in your crowd to give an out-of-this-world party! This is not as mad as it sounds. The day will come when travel to outer space will be as everyday as going for a spin in the family car.”

Sample Refreshments:

  • For New Year’s Eve, hot buttered soup, made with eight cans of condensed tomato soup and seasoned with lemon juice, cinnamon, and cloves. “Serve hot with a pat of butter floated on the top.”
  • For Valentine’s Day, tuna tomatoes. Combine two cans of chunk-style tuna with a can of cream of mushroom soup. Season with salt and pepper. Use mixture as filling for eight hollowed-out tomatoes, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • For a space party, deviled ham missiles. Spread deviled ham on half a hot dog bun. Slice a cheese wedge in half lengthwise and insert it at one end of the bun. Insert two carrot sticks at the other end. Top with other half of bun.

Sample Party Games Titles That Sound More Interesting Than the Games Actually Are: Bottoms Up, Scrambled Anatomy, Elopement, Murder.

About the Author: I would love to share a complete biography of Gay Head that included her childhood at Newport, her lively debutante days, and her marriage to a shipping magnate. Alas, Miss Head never existed. The Library of Congress entry for this book suggests that Gay Head was a pseudonym for Margaret Hauser. I can’t find any information about Hauser, except that she edited Scholastic’s Co-Ed Magazine from the 1950s through at least 1970. She also wrote articles under the Gay Head pseudonym for Scholastic magazine in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Interestingly, though, Hauser was not the only Gay Head. On October 21, 2002, USA Today published an interview with Ruth Imler Langhinrichs. “From 1948 to 1952,” the article states, “Langhinrichs used the pseudonym Gay Head to answer teens’ questions in a column in Scholastic magazine called ‘Boy Dates Girl.’”

It seems that Gay Head must have been a in-house pseudonym, used by various Scholastic writers. The occasion for Langhinrichs’ interview was the release of Steve Coulter’s short film The Etiquette Man, based on the book Boy Dates Girl, a compilation of Gay Head columns. Boy Dates Girl was first published in 1937, with updated printings through the mid-1960s.

Langhinrichs, at least, looks back fondly on her Gay Head days, according to USA Today: “Her years as Gay Head were happy times, she says. They helped her become an editor for teens at Ladies’ Home Journal, where she wrote a column titled Sub-Deb — as in not-quite-a-debutante. Langhinrichs still collects lore on social civility and manners. She works two days a week as a writing coach at Indiana’s Purdue University.”

To the delight of bloggers everywhere, “Gay Head” wrote several other teen advice books, including You’re Asking Me? and Hi There, High School.

We’ll be seeing more of her in future weeks.

Previous entries in this series

Weird Words of Wisdom: Prettily Bewildered Edition

Weird Words of Wisdom: Spanking New Edition

Weird Words of Wisdom: Prettily Bewildered Edition

“We all say marriage is a partnership and, for the most part, we mean it in the sense of sharing the fun, the joys, the responsibilities, the highs and lows of any family’s life. But just as there can be only one skipper to a boat, one driver to a car, or one president of a company, so there can be only one head of a happy house—and that is, by law, by taxes, by census, and by woman’s intuition, the husband. It’s a pleasant thought to remember that if a man’s home is his castle, he must be the lord and master; and you, therefore, are the chatelaine, the mistress of the castle and keeper of the keys to a very happy existence as a wedded wife.”

The Seventeen Book of Young Living by Enid Haupt, 1959

About the Book: This book, purchased at a library book sale two decades ago, started me collecting advice manuals aimed at teenagers. I wasn’t so far past my own teenage years then, and the book’s quaint advice on dating, friendship, fashion, and school amused and sometimes charmed me. As I added more advice books to my collection, I became fascinated by what the books reveal about the past. Reading what a given era’s adults felt young people should know tells you a lot what a society valued.

(Reading what previous owners wrote or left in these books can be interesting, too. The previous owner of my book recorded her first name as “Twinkle.” This suggests she was a careful student, indeed, of The Seventeen Book of Young Living.)

This book strives to introduce budding Betty Drapers to gracious living, mid-century style, from party planning to the art of conversation (“Books, plays, and movies are always welcome subjects”); from bedroom decorating to managing men (she recommends that a girl develop “a very feminine ability to look prettily bewildered and helpless while plotting and achieving a goal she thinks is really important.”)

More than many such books, this one encourages girls to develop their minds as well as their manners. The author recommends exploring the arts and expresses unusual ardor when the subject turns to books.

Haupt, who edited and published Seventeen for 15 years beginning in 1955, strove for an elevating tone. She accepted the editorship from her brother, legendary publisher Walter H. Annenberg.  “I knew nothing about running a magazine,” she told the New York Times in 1992, “but my brother said, ‘You can bring culture to the average working person who has not had your advantages.’ ”

I used to laugh at the back-cover photo of Haupt, all prim and pearled—and her Times obit’s revelation that she led Seventeen “from a pink swiveled throne in a large office dominated by pink curtains and pink flowers” supports my initial impression of her.

Actually, Haupt exuded true graciousness. She donated much of her publishing-dynasty fortune to worthwhile causes, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the New York Public Library, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her love of gardening inspired her largest philanthropic gifts, including $34 million to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

(“Nature is my religion” was apparently one of her favorite sayings—and to that I say, “Amen!”)

“I suppose I have an exaggerated sense of the beauty of the world, rather than the ugliness,” Haupt told the Times.

In The Seventeen Book of Young Living, Haupt does avoid most controversial subjects. Even for the era, her treatment of sex is vague: “The major responsibility for any romance disintegrating into an affair—that can only lead to reproaches—is the girl’s. Your chances of causing the boy you love, or yourself, anything but unhappiness are fairly slim if you fail to conform to the generally approved standards of behavior.”

On at least one issue, however, she takes a firm stand—she spends an entire chapter trying to squelch prejudice in her young readers.

Final Fun Fact: Haupt, who died at age 99 in 2005, lived for many years in a penthouse at 740 Park Avenue. Author Michael Gross wrote an entire book about that address, home to what he calls the “world’s richest apartment building.”  Haupt’s penthouse, which she bought for $350,000 in 1967, sold for $27.5 million in 2006, according to the Times.

Other Quotes from The Seventeen Book of Young Living:

“In dealing with any male, the art of saving face is essential. Traditionally, he is the head of the family, the dominant partner, the man in the situation. Even on those occasions when you both know his decision is wrong, more often than not you will be wise to go along with his decision—temporarily—until you can find a face-saving solution.”

“If you’ve ever watched your brother’s grimaces when he’s been haunted by telephone calls from a love-smitten young lady, you would better understand the embarrassment the boy suffers and the blow you are dealing your relationship by being aggressive.”

“Flirting is probably inevitable at youth, because at this age it’s almost second nature for a bright pretty girl to sparkle at the men and boys she meets.”

“If you are going out with one boy on an exclusive basis, the temptation to offer to share expenses for movies, tennis balls, and so on will be very great. Resist it…trying to pay your way can only be awkward and damaging to you both.”

“Prejudice shows up in many ways, all indicating flaws in the structure of a personality. It indicates ignorance, fear of new things, inability to meet the challenge of the unknown.”

“You, the young in spirit and in years, have no place in your hearts for prejudice against anybody or anything. It’s a big world you’re going out into, and you need an open mind and an open heart to take advantage of the all the friendships, knowledge, and beauty that await you.”

“The better born and bred a person is, the less prejudiced he is.”