Years ago I was part of a Yahoo group of Lum and Abner fans. Several of us tried our hands at a writing a series of “fan fiction” episodes based on the premise that the old fellows had just got their first computer. I wrote Episode 5, in which Grandpap reads his email–out loud, of course–the way he always read the Almanac. I imagined he printed it out, the way my parents did in those days, and carried it over to the Jot ‘Em Down Store with him. Previous episodes were written by other group members, but hopefully you can get the gist of the backstory by the conversation.
Lum & Abner Buy a Computer, Episode 5
By Karla Cook, September 9, 2003
OPENING: And now… let’s see what’s going on down in Pine Ridge. Well, as we look in on the little community today we find Lum and Abner and Grandpap in the Jot ‘Em Down Store. The old fellows are still trying to get a store computer set up. Lum is unpacking boxes while Abner looks on. Grandpap is seated in the rocking chair with his right foot, which is wrapped up in bandages, propped up on a stack of feed sacks. Listen…
LUM: I tell you, Abner, it’s a good thang I had this Dell com-puter on order from the wholesale house, seein’s how you’n Granpap plum ruined that’n you was messin’ with yesterday!
ABNER: Well, now, Lum, you know we was jes’ tryin’ to help! You was havin’ so much trouble getting that thang plugged in… Granpap was sure that lamp socket would work for that big ol’ plug there, weren’t ya, Granpap?
GRANPAP: Don’t bother me. I’m readin’.
LUM: Yeah, and look what happened! You and Grandpap both might nigh got yourselfs killed! Why, you was out cold for two hours after you ‘lectrocuted yourself! And look at Grandpap. Just about shot his big toe plum off!
ABNER: Well, now, that didn’t have nothin’ to do with this here com-puter!
LUM: Well, maybe not… but he was sure ex-cited. Wavin’ that gun around here, while I was tryin’ to get to the phone to call the doctor. Granpap, you orta be bored fer the simple!
GRANPAP: I didn’t do no sech a thing. Jes’ grazed the edge o’ my foot, that’s all… ruined a good pair of brogans, but my toe’s gonna be all right. Doc jes’ said to keep it propped up for a day or two, to make sure gangrene don’t set in. That’s why I come over here to read my e-mail. I b’lieve this here rockin’ chair is the most comfort place to set where I can keep my foot propped up of any place they is around here.
LUM: I noticed you had a big stack of papers there. But I didn’t know you had email! You and Aunt Charity ain’t got a com-puter over to your place, have you?
GRANPAP: ‘Course not! Wouldn’t have one of them varmints on the place! They spread viruses ya know! I go over to my nephew Luke’s and check my e-mail on his com-puter. He lets me print it out and take it with me.
ABNER: What is that you’re callin’ it? E-mail? Ya mean V-mail, dontcha? I heared of that… but that was way back durin’ the war. Hadn’t had any V-mail for… oh… must be 50 years now!
LUM: Not V-mail, Abner. E-mail! That’s what I’ve been tryin’ to tell you about. That’s one of the big benefits of getting’ a com-puter here in the store. We can write letters to anyone anywhere in the world, and just send it right over the computer, and they’ll have it in jest a few minutes.
ABNER: A few minutes? Aw! I don’t b’lieve it! The mail hack cain’t go that fast!
GRANPAP: Listen to this… DEAR FRIEND, I AM MRS. SESE-SEKO WIDOW OF LATE PRESIDENT MOBUTU SESE-SEKO OF ZAIRE, NOW KNOWN AS DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. I AM MOVED TO WRITE YOU THIS LETTER, THIS WAS IN CONFIDENCE CONSIDERING MY PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCE AND SITUATION…
LUM: Grandpap, don’t read us that stuff! We’re busy!
GRANPAP: Well, but Mrs. Sese-Seko wants me to help her by letting her put 18 million dollars in my bank account temporary. I don’t know what she’s writin’ to me fer! I ain’t got no bank account! What little money me and Charity’s got put by I keep buried in… well, never mind…
LUM: Look at this, Abner. This is a mouse.
ABNER: A mouse?! Where? Dad-blame it! That Geraldine’s getting’ plum lazy… Here, kitty-kitty…
LUM: No, Abner! Not that kinda mouse. This here is a com-puter mouse. ‘member I was tellin’ you about ‘em? It’s this gadget that you hook up to the back of the com-puter and then you scoot it around on the desk to operate the computer. See? It kinda looks like a mouse… This wire is the tail…
ABNER: Well, I do know! Now ain’t that cute!! What’s his name, Lum?
LUM: Whose name?
ABNER: Why, the mouse! He shorely has a name, any critter that clever. Is his name Clyde?
GRANPAP: I onced knowed a ghost named Clyde…
LUM: Now, Grandpap, don’t get started on that story!
ABNER: Yeah! We’ve heared it a thousand or a hundred times. What else is in that box, Lum?
LUM: Well, let’s see…
GRANPAP: Here’s one from Rufe Wilkerson! I ain’t had a hearin’ from ol’ Rufe in… You remember, Rufe, dontcha, Abner? Says: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org… ol’ Grimey… haven’t heard from him in…
ABNER: What in tarnation is that list of names you’re readin’, Grandpap? And what’s all them “ats” about?
GRANPAP: I dunno. Was just here at the top of this page. I cain’t make heads or tails of it. Looks like a roll call of some kind…
LUM: That’s e-mail addresses you’re readin’, Granpap. You don’t have to read that. That’s just on there so the com-puter knows where to send the letter. See, whoever sent you that letter, sent it out to all those other folks, too. All at the same time!
GRANPAP: Sassy-fras! And here I thought ol’ Rufe was writin’ me a nice newsy letter. You wanna know what he had to say?
ABNER: No! We don’t, Grandpap!
GRANPAP: Well, I’ll jes tell ya, then! Says… “This letter has been sent to you because you are a good friend. Forward it to 10 of your closest friends and you will have good luck for a year….” Rubbish! [rattles papers] Ain’t they any good letters here?
ABNER: Lum, did you say that the com-puter’s what brings them e-mails?
LUM: Yeah. Why?
ABNER: Well, I don’t know if we want one of those thangs er not. Sounds like a bunch of prittle-prattle to me!
LUM: Well, that’s just spam Granpap’s got there. We’ll be getting’ big important business letters on ours.
ABNER: Huh? Spam?! Granpap ain’t got no Spam. We had three cans left and they’re settin’ there right on the shelf where they belong. Granpap don’t even like Spam!
LUM: Not that kinda Spam, Abner. Spam is what they call junk emails. Advertisements mostly.
ABNER: Oh, advertisements for Spam?
LUM: No, not advertisements for Spam! Junk emails that nobody wants and ever’body gets. I don’t know why they call it spam. They jes’ do!
ABNER: Well, if nobody wants ‘em why do they keep sendin’ ‘em out then. Seems like that’d be a waste of postage to me.
LUM: Abner, I don’t know. And it don’t cost no postage! Fergit it! Jes’ drop it…
GRANPAP: Why, that pigeon-toed, knock-kneed varmint! He cain’t do that!
ABNER: Who cain’t do what, Granpap?
GRANPAP: This here’s from my checker-playin’ partner from Alaska. He just sent me his latest move and he cain’t do that! That’s cheatin’! I won’t let him get by with that… I’m gonna go hunt him up. I’ll clinch with him. Nobody cheats Milford Avery Spears!
LUM: Hmm. I guess he was right.
LUM: ‘mazin’ how his foot healed up so quick. I don’t b’lieve I’ve ever saw him stomp outta hear so fast before!