"Hello, Jot 'Em Down Store;
This is Lum and Abner"
This was one of the most welcome greetings on Radio for nearly 25 years.
Chester, "Chet" Lauck (Lum Eddards) and Norris "Tuffy" Goff (Abner Peabody) were the creators, actors, writers, sound effects men, directors and the "life" of of the "Lum and Abner" Program. They received more fan mail than any other radio program of the time-1 and a half million letters in one special week!
Their budding careers began as young amateur performers in Mena, Arkansas, where they grew up together, teaming to entertain at many school and civic functions. On April 26, 1931, representing Polk and Montgomery Counties on Station KTHS in Hot Springs, Arkansas, they tried out their old country storekeepers routine. Their names, "Lum Eddards" and "Abner Peabody" were a "spur of the moment" addition. The format was more conversational than situational, but the performers showed so much talent that they were invited back. Then, offered a 13 week contract with NBC and obtaining "Quaker Oats" sponsorship, they were off to Chicago for "temporary" show business careers.
Pine Ridge is only slightly smaller now than it was in the early 1900's when it was called "Waters". Then it was the site of a post office, sawmill, general store, grist mill, blacksmith shop, and the otther services necessary to a farm community.
Dick Huddleston built his general merchandise store in 1909 and bought his wares from a wholesaler named Mr. Goff. Mr. Goff's son, Norris, grew up in the family business, visiting many Polk and Montgomery County general stores. Mr. Lauck owned a big sawmill in Mena and was an officer of the bank, so all the residents of this logging community knew his son Chester.
Dick Huddleston was a friend to them all and a leader in the community of Waters. The general store of any small town was its hub of activity, especially on a Saturday afternoon when everyone from the surrounding farms came to town to trade goods and stories. That was the inspiration for the "Lum and Abner" program. By the mid-1930's, the radio program was well-known nationwide and the listeners were asking where Pine Ridge was, so the name of the town was changed in an elaborate ceremony on the steps of the state capital in Little Rock. This was during 1936, the fifth anniversary of the program.
Pictures in the Lum and Abner Museum show all the participants - the governor greeting Lum, Abner, and the real life counterparts of Granpappy Spears, Cedric Wehunt, Dick Huddleston, etc.
Many of the fictional residents of Pine Ridge were inspired by the actual residents of the small town and the surrounding area, but only the many voices of Lauck and Goff were heard on the radio. Chet Lauck was the voice of Lum, Granpappy Spears, and Cedric Wehunt. "Tuffy" Goff was Abner, Squire Skimp, Mousey grey, Dick huddleston and most of the other characters that developed over the years. They kept in touch with Pine Ridge and the local residents listened carefully to hear what would be made of the local news.
The stores that were so busy on the program are still busy today - housing the "Lum and Abner Museum" and the "Jot'Em Down Store". The Huddleston store holds the souvenir and gift shop, continuing to offer "Lum and Abner" programs and premiums, in addition to antiques and crafts. The smaller A.A. McKinzie store that was built in 1904 and was originally across the street, just as the fictional "Jot Em Down Store" was on the program has been moved next door and displays the many pieces of Lum and Abner history, preserving an important era of American Life.
Chester Lauck was born in 1901 in Aleene, Arkansas and Norris goff was born in 1905, in Cove, Arkansas. Both moved to Mena in 1911 and lived there, marrying and starting families, until the big move into show business. The various sponsors throughout the years required many moves leading to a final jump to Hollywood in 1939 to make motion pictures. Those sponsors included Quaker Oats, Ford motor Company, Horlick's Malted Milk, Alka Seltzer (the longest lasting association), and General Motors. From the late 1930's to the early 1950's, seven movies were made, with a radio studio provided behind each set to continue broadcasting the daily programs. Retirement from this hectic schedule came after 24 1/2 years of 13 week contracts! The Goffs stayed in California where Norris Goff died in June of 1978. The Laucks eventually returned to arkansas and aided in the development of the "Lum and Abner Museum" Chester Lauck died in February of 1980.
Ralph and Dorothy McClure of Fresno, California bought the landmark in the fall of 1969 from Mrs. Ethel Graham, Dick Huddleston's daughter.
OPEN mid March thru mid November
Tuesday thru Saturday 9:00 am-5:00pm
Sunday 12:00 pm-5:00 pm
and by appointment
All tours call (870)326-4442 in advance
We will make special arrangements to accommodate you.
LARGE PARKING LOT WHEELCHAIR RAMP
Lon and Kathy Stucker
Owners and Managers
4562 Highway 88
Pine Ridge, Arkansas 71966
The store and museum are listed in the
National Register of Historic Places