Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The End Of My Tradition

Tom Lester died yesterday.

I found out with a message from Leanne Petty. With the guy being up there in age, I knew that it was just a matter of time before he died. As a matter of fact, I was just thinking about him a few weeks ago because I’m watching episodes of ‘Green Acres’ from seasons 4 through 6 on Amazon Prime. I don’t own those on DVD. Yet.

Tom Lester portrayed Eb Dawson, Mr. Douglas’ hired hand and mild irritant. Lester was the last surviving cast member from the ‘Green Acres’ series. The series aired from the fall of 1965 to the spring of 1971. I have vague memories of watching the show live. I was always drawn to it. And when it went into reruns, I would adjust my schedule to watch them no matter when they aired.

When the VCR came into our family’s affordable existence, I started recording them. I still have them today… for some reason.

Those tapes came in handy in January of 1994 when Pat Buttram “Mr. Haney” died. And a tradition was born.

Since then, I’ve celebrated the work of the ‘Green Acres’ cast members after their passing with beer, bourbon, and laughter.

So, last night the Chigs and I watched some episodes featuring the character Eb Dawson with beer and bourbon in the game room. The MIL decided to opt out even though she knew that I was in mourning. Don’t worry… She’ll get her payback when, not if, she takes a fall. I’ll be there to remind her as I contemplate how long to leave her lying on the floor.

I KID! But this Scorpio will find a way to pay her back for what I have deemed being insensitive to my emotional needs.

I would have continued watching deep into the night like I did when Eva Gabor died in 1995. But I’m counted on to wake the Chigs so that she’s on time for her work-at-home day. Gabor died on July 4th and so, I didn’t really have anywhere to be the next day since I have always made long weekends with vacation time when possible.

There’s still one cast member living from the big brother of ‘Green Acres’… Max “Jethro” Baer Jr. is the last surviving member of ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’. I’m a big fan of that series, but I’ve never kept home recorded video cassettes of the series nor have I purchased any DVDs. I have received a few DVDs as gifts, but just haven’t pulled the trigger on buying them. In my mind, I have a feeling that they’re still being aired on MeTV or some other network easily available as a digital sub-channel of a local television station. Plus, the real cutesy Ellie Mae scenes with animals always turned me off.

I missed meeting Tom Lester back in the 80s. He did evangelical work and traveled around the country. He was bringing his message to Hillcrest Baptist Church on Pisgah Church Road in Greensboro. I found out too late to get time off from work to attend. But thankfully, my parents went and got me an autograph. I have it packed away safely, but I have no idea where it is exactly. It’s just one of those things that I’d love to get framed.

My cousin Dan summed it up well on my post about Tom Lester’s passing… “It’s like losing a family member.”

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