Letter from The Editor 

jethro2.jpg

"... Then one day he was shootin' at some food,
And up through the ground came a bubblin' crude."
— "The Ballad of Jed Clampett"

For those of us of a certain age, The Beverly Hillbillies was a touchstone of our childhood, the Two and a Half Men of the 1960s — comedy gold, and with a great theme song to match. Subsequent generations were exposed to the program through decades of reruns.

As you'll recall, the premise of the show was simple — Jed Clampett, a poor backwoods mountaineer, discovers oil on his property, sells it for millions, and moves his family to a Beverly Hills mansion. It was a classic "fish out of water" scenario. Jed, along with his dimwit nephew Jethro Bodine, daughter Elly May, and crotchety skinflint mother-in-law, Granny, were constantly baffled and perturbed by the ways of those sissy city folks. But in the end, country wisdom prevailed over city sophistication, week after hilarious week.

When puzzled, Jed, a crack shot, liked to sit on the curb in front of the mansion and whittle until a solution came to him. Granny could tell time to the minute using a sundial, predicted the weather with a beetle, and made excellent 'possum stew. Elly May loved letting her "critters" swim in the "cement pond," and she could 'rassle any man to the ground. And the entire family was very proud of Jethro's sixth-grade education.

The show was canceled after nine seasons, but as we know, the Clampetts found work back home in Tennessee as Republican legislators. Sure, they still don't understand the ways of city folk, but it doesn't really matter, since they're in the majority and can pass all sorts of laws that reflect their homespun wisdom. (See Jackson Baker's cover story.)

Science? Overrated. Just read your Bible, and you'll learn exactly how the earth was created. Global climate change? Nonsense. Check with the nearest dung beetle. Sex? Don't tell your kids anything about it, and they won't do it. It's that simple. Worked for Elly May, didn't it? And don't be trying to tell a country boy where he can and can't take his gun. That's none of your dang business, Mr. Drysdale, er, Smith. We don't care how many of those fancy flying machines you have. A man's truck is his castle.

Gay rights? We don't even say that word around these parts, and we ain't about to let teachers talk about it. Our kids might catch the gay, like Miss Hathaway.

Bubblin' crude, indeed.
Bruce VanWyngarden
brucev@memphisflyer.com

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