News of the Week: Sad June, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head

In the news for the week ending June 3, 2021, are Perry Mason’s peers, hurricane names, chocolate frogs, cereal robots, iced tea, and more.

Perry Mason interviews a woman
Illustration by James R. Bingham for “The Case of the Greedy Grandpa” by Earle Stanley Gardner, from the October 25, 1958, issue of the Post.

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It’s June Already?

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.”

Lucy Maud Montgomery

I don’t know, Miss Montgomery, but I’m thinking it would be … terrible?

I should like June. It’s usually not that hot yet, tennis really kicks into high gear, and it’s even the month of my birth. But it’s still not one of the good months. It’s the month I have to start wearing shorts, the month I have to stop drinking hot tea, and the time the insects start to invade.

The other day in my apartment I killed a bee the size of one of Eggland’s Best. That was fun.

Of course, it could be worse. It could be July or August, with their days of seemingly endless heat and humidity and sleepless nights. But June starts everything off and leads to those terrible months, so I’m not going to cut it any slack. And it’s supposed to be in the 90s for four straight days next week.

Some people will read that last sentence and think it’s a good thing.

Hurricane Season Has Begun, Too

It’s that time of year when we all wonder, “Did my name make the hurricane list this year?” It did if your name is Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Julian, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, Wanda, or Zoom.

Okay, I made up that last one.

Scientists Discover a Chocolate Frog

No, you can’t eat them, but if some candy company doesn’t make edible chocolate shaped like a frog to celebrate this discovery, that’s a really missed opportunity. Hey, we already have chocolate bunnies for Easter and chocolate reindeer for Christmas.

Headline of the Week

“Kellogg Partners With DoorDash Business on Cereal-Dispensing Robots”

The Other Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner

This week I’ve restarted my obsession with all things Perry Mason, watching the TV show every day and reading the Gardner novels, many of which were serialized in the Post. But Erle Stanley Gardner wrote other novels and short stories and had other series characters too.

In the 1939 novel The Bigger They Come, written under the name A.A. Fair, Gardner introduced the crime-solving team of Cool and Lam, featuring tough, overweight, not-entirely-honest boss Bertha Cool and five-foot-five law school dropout Donald Lam. There are 30 books in the series, and it’s stunning that the team isn’t more well-known. One of the novels was performed on radio on The United States Steel Hour of Mystery in 1946, and Lam was played by Frank Sinatra. There was a 1955 episode of the series Climax! that starred Art Carney as Lam, but I don’t think a copy exists anymore. In 1958, CBS aired a pilot for a Cool and Lam show — it was introduced by Gardner himself, from Mason’s TV office — but it wasn’t successful.

Doug Selby was the lead character in another series of Gardner novels, about the D.A. of Madison County, California. The Post’s sister publication The Country Gentleman ran the serialized version of the novel The D.A. Calls It Murder as The Thread of Truth starting in the September 1, 1936, issue. The serialization of the novel The D.A. Takes a Chance started in the Post’s July 31, 1948, issue.

Other series characters were Terry Clane, another lawyer, who appeared in two novels (Murder Up My Sleeve and The Case of the Backward Mule); Peter Quint, a quick-witted salesman who appeared in three Post stories; and Gramps Wiggins, an older amateur sleuth. He appeared in two novels, The Case of the Turning Tide and The Case of the Smoking Chimney. Yup, several Gardner novels and stories used the same title format as the Perry Mason series, The Case of the …

He also wrote several standalone novels, nonfiction travel and crime books, and hundreds of short stories and novelettes. Broadcast TV and the streaming channels could probably make a new TV show or movie out of a Gardner story every single year and never run out of material.

RIP Gavin MacLeod, B.J. Thomas, Arlene Golonka, Robert Hogan, John Davis, and Buddy Van Horn

Gavin MacLeod had roles on two long-running TV shows, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Love Boat. He also had a regular role on McHale’s Navy and appeared on such shows as Perry Mason, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Peter Gunn, Oz, and Murder, She Wrote, as well as many movies. He died Saturday at the age of 90.

It’s easy to forget just how many hits B.J. Thomas had in the ’60s and ’70s, including “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” He had eight number-one songs on various charts and won five Grammy Awards. He died Saturday at the age of 78.

Uploaded to YouTube by TheBJThomas.

Arlene Golonka had a long acting career, appearing in such shows as Mayberry R.F.D., Get Smart, All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and M*A*S*H, as well as movies like Hang ’Em High, Airport ’77, and The In-Laws. She also appeared on Broadway in the original stage productions of Come Blow Your Horn and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She died Monday at the age of 85.

Robert Hogan guest-starred in just about every TV series ever made, many movies, and also on stage. The lead character on Hogan’s Heroes was named after him. He died last week at the age of 87.

John Davis was one of the real voices behind the lip-syncing duo Milli Vanilli, who had such hits as “Girl You Know It’s True” and “Blame It on the Rain.” He died last week at the age of 66.

Buddy Van Horn was stunt coordinator — and often Clint Eastwood’s stunt double — on most of Eastwood’s movies, including Dirty Harry, High Plains Drifter, Million Dollar Baby, and The Eiger Sanction, as well as a stuntman in a hundred other films, including The Deer Hunter, Around the World in 80 Days, and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. He was also Guy Williams’s stunt double on the ’50s series Zorro. He died last month at the age of 92.

This Week in History

Tulsa Massacre (May 30­–June 1, 1921)

The Post’s Ben Railton has a piece on the events in American history we need to remember, including this horrifying, shameful week in Oklahoma 100 years ago.

Santa Cruz, California, Bans Rock ’n’ Roll (June 4, 1956)

After witnessing “highly suggestive, stimulating, and tantalizing motions,” police broke up a Saturday-night teen concert. A couple of days later the mayor banned all rock music from the city, only to change his mind a few days later clarifying he was only banning tantalizing motions.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Frigidaire (June 1, 1974)

Dog looking at a fridge

We think of modern appliances having computers and other technology inside of them (in case you want to send an email to your toaster from your dishwasher), but companies were doing things like that 50 years ago too. This fridge had a cassette player!

June Is National Iced Tea Month

You could pop in a Milli Vanilli tape and take a nice pitcher of iced tea out of that fridge. (I think either July or August should be Iced Tea Month, but I don’t make the food holiday rules.)

Food Network has the recipe for what they declare is the Perfect Iced Tea (your mileage may vary). Kitchn has a recipe for Southern Sweet Tea, while Dinner at the Zoo has a Mango Iced Tea. And if you want something with a little kick, has a classic Long Island Iced Tea. It uses gin, vodka, rum, and tequila.

None of those drinks is hot tea, so I guess I’ll have to wait until September.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

The Kennedy Center Honors (June 6)

The honorees this year are Dick Van Dyke, Joan Baez, Garth Brooks, Debbie Allen, and violinist Midori. It airs on CBS at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Solar Eclipse (June 10)

Some parts of the world will see a full eclipse, while North America will see a partial eclipse.

Featured image: Aekkie / Shutterstock

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  1. No it’s not one of the good months (so far) where I live either; being hot since early May. Of course I have to be grateful it’s not over 100, much less 110+. It’s looming in the near future. Bob, have you tried Zevo (all natural) insect spray? It sounds good and is supposed to be very effective. We have enough chemicals to deal with now as it is in modern life.

    The chocolate frog in the picture is nice (and friendly) looking, but is best left to his habitat without human interference. A mild and dark chocolate version could be okay, but might pose undue attention to the real thing. Cereal-dispensing robots. That’s a new one on me, but maybe not to Jerry Seinfeld. Have you asked him?

    I watched the ‘Cool and Lam’ pilot. It might have been a good series, but we’ll never know. Just a couple of hours after I mentioned The Mary Tyler Moore Show in last week’s ‘News’ comments, I heard Gavin MacLeod passed away. He was one of the reasons her show was (and is) still so wonderful. Another reason was Arlene Golonka. I’ve loved her since I can remember. Very versatile, bubbly, talented actress. She had a Doris Day essence too. I literally just watched an April ’75 episode of ‘Barnaby Jones’ with her two days before I heard, which unwittingly may have been the day she passed.

    Speaking of the ’70s, I love the Fridgidaire ad!! The ad copy is wonderful. What a concept. Everyone, read it. I love the red color too, which proves not ALL appliances were either gold or avocado back then. The dog listening is the perfect ‘human touch’. It looks like they borrowed a classic move from RCA. Well done.


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