Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Personal Asides: Frank Nofsinger—Winner of Both 16 Tons and Skylark…The Maggot Infiltrates…Soap Opera Trivia.

Frank Nofsinger.

Frank Nofsinger is a double winner of the trivia musical contest—correctly naming the words to “Sixteen Tons” and first to identify the composer of the melody to “Skylark” was Hoagy Carmichael to which Johnny Mercer wrote the words. Congratulations, Frank!

The Maggot.

Maggot is a trade term for someone who intrudes on a web-site, uses inappropriate language, oft-times mis-uses someone’s name and is a juvenile emotionally if not actually. As all of you who contribute to Reader’s Comments know, we have a maggot who signs his name scatalogically and uses disparagingly a part of anatomy signed with a real woman’s name. He has been invited, then directed to vamoose but will not. Frank Nofsinger read him out rightfully so the other day. But he will not go and usually contents himself with derogatory comments about how boring my writing is. Good—if it’s boring, he should tune out. But he won’t. My advice is just ignore him…work around him…and he’ll leave. Either on his own volition or when the men in white coats with butterfly nets capture him.

Soap Opera Trivia.

This may be too tough for some of you without use of a search engine but I hope you will still follow the honor system and not use it. If you’re anywhere near as old as I, when your mother kept you home from school in the `30s and `40s with a cold, fever or worse, you had to stay in bed with a portable radio by your bed-stand and listen to soap operas all day which ran from 9 a.m. through late afternoon. They were called soap operas because major soap and grocery manufacturers sponsored them, in 15-minute segments. They were mostly love stories for the housewives—tame things that had an addictive quality to them. In this contest, I’m going to describe themes of some of the major network soaps…many of which originated from Chicago but were aired throughout the country…and ask you to name them. Most are not kid stories but some are. I’m not sure even Frank Nofsinger is old enough to play but we’ll see. I don’t know how I remember these things but I do. The only man I know who can identify these answers is Jack Whalen who is one year younger than I but who listened to the same radio shows.

1. The title: “Oxydol’s Own _________. Two words: the name of the leading character.

2. This story is of “a girl from a little mining town in the West, Silver Creek, Colorado who grew up to marry England’s richest, most handsome Lord, Lord Henry Brinthrop.” They called her “Our Gal_________ which was her first name. What was it?

3. The heroine of this soap was a woman who “seeks to prove, as so many women long to prove, that love can exist at thirty-five and after.” The title of the soap was her name. What was it? For bragging rights, the name of her lover who was a man of mystery, always traveling somewhere on secret missions but who wanted desperately to return and marry her.

4. This heroine was also named in the title of the soap as was her occupation labeled “Backstage Wife.” What was her name? For bragging rights, why was she called Backstage Wife?

5. The heroine of this soap was a woman who scrubbed floors to raise her daughter who got married to a rich guy and whom her poor old mother didn’t want to embarrass her by letting her know how poor and humble her mother was. The mother’s name and title of the soap was: ____________ (two words).

6. The heroine of this one became a woman U. S. Senator and a famous one at a time when there were no women Senators. Her full name was the title of this soap which was _______________(two words).

7. This drama was not a soap but an enormously popular adult radio serial which went longer than 15 minutes. In fact it ran one hour on Sunday afternoons when the whole family followed the exploits of a rich family which lived in a mansion near a sea-wall in San Francisco. There was the patriarchal retired banker father and sedate matron mother, an older son named Paul, a wounded veteran of World War I, a widower, who was a kind of philosopher; his young daughter named “Teddy,” a sister named Claudia Lacey who married an RAF flyer, a sister Hazel, who was a common-sense type whose husband was shell-shocked and an amnesiac from World War I and a kid brother named Jack who was breaking up with his beautiful but emotionally insecure wife Anne. Three words describe the title with “Family” one of them. It was ________ ____ Family and was sponsored by Tenderleaf Tea. There, I’ve almost given it away.

8. This was a soap which like the others ran five days a week with the leading character a barber in a town called Hartville. Three words in the title.

9. Not a soap opera but a thriller which aired on a weeknight which featured characters named Reggie, Doc and Jack who were engaged in solving murders.

10. This was a story about a guy whose business was to track down lost persons. Six words in the title. The theme song was “Somewhere I’ll Find You!”

11. This was a funny serial about a man and woman which was written by a leading comedy writer named Goodman Ace who would always cry out in exasperation at his dumb wife, “Isn’t that awful!” It was not George Burns and Gracie Allen.

12. This was a soap that featured an older lady telling stories to a young radio announcer named “Danny.” The first name of the title was “Aunt”—no not Jemina.

13. This was a maudlin one about a wise Jewish patriarch named Papa
David and a young gentile girl named “Chee-Chee” whom he would instruct by quoting the Talmud. It had a serial title that defied the entire tenor of the show. Four words in the title.

14. An uproariously funny serial written and acted by the comedienne Gertrude Berg about a Jewish family, a story so successful she moved the show to television in the early days…a TV show which always began the same way with the heroine, played by Berg, shouting through an open apartment window to her neighbor: “Yoo-hoo! Mrs. Bloom!” Two words.

15. This was a story about a fast-living newspaperman whose stories always appeared on the front page. Three words.

16. And this was a story set in a major big city (unnamed) where the hero was a crusading newspaper editor named Steve Wilson of the Illustrated Press whose girl friend was Lorilei. The name of the serial in two words.

17. A kid mystery about a guy who solves crime by rendering himself invisible through a trick of intellect that clouded others’ minds so they couldn’t see him while he would intone these words:“The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay!” Two words in the title.

18. A kid mystery about a costumed mystery man who solved big city crime speeding around town with a supercharged car driven by a servant named Kato…who started out being a Japanese but who, when World War II came along, was converted into a Filipino. The theme was “The Flight of the Bumblebee.” Three words.

19. A Saturday morning combination kid and youngish adult story which centered around a New York city train station “the crossroads of a million private lives.” Three words.

20. An evening drama for adults which began with the host taking a cab to a “little theatre off Times Square” where he enters royally and is greeted by an usher who says, “Good evening…I’ll show you to your box. The play is just about ready to begin.” The name of the drama in three words.


  1. On the 4th-to-last (you should have numbered them) my guess is "The Shadow".

    On the 3rd-to-last, my guess is "The Green Hornet".

  2. Number 1 or Number 4 should be "Ma Perkins." I agree with WPD, but he is first. The second to the last should be "Grand Central Station."

  3. Number 1 or Number 4 should be "Ma Perkins." I agree with WPD, but he is first. The second to the last should be "Grand Central Station."

  4. Of course, I have the disadvantage of not having lived through any of the broadcasts. I've heard episodes of my guesses on cassette.

  5. Things seem a bit slow, so let me guess "Stella Dallas" for number five. I stick with "Ma Perkins" for number one. My little wife Lillian will guess Our gal "Sunday" for number two, although she is way way too young to know for sure. Number 19 stays at "Grand Central Station."

    P.S. I'm certain that trolls can develope maggots.

  6. Webster 1964 defines: troll = a dwarf or imp living underground- Ergo, our dwarf/imp lives either in the tunnels under Chicago bored by my old company M-K in combine with local ?, OR he lives under the toilet seat at the Public Library.

  7. I'm sure the answer's Pepper Young's Family. I think -- but am not certain -- that this is the soap the late Sandra Geer of WBEZ had a continuing role in. Do you know?