ARKANSAS SIGHTSEEING: Lum and Abner Jot ’Em Down Store and Museum in Montgomery County

For $777,000 it could be yours

Lum and Abner Jot Em Down Store and Museum is located along Arkansas 88 in Pine Ridge. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Marcia Schnedler)
Lum and Abner Jot Em Down Store and Museum is located along Arkansas 88 in Pine Ridge. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Marcia Schnedler)


PINE RIDGE — Up for sale is the legacy of two nationally famous Arkansas performers from network radio's glory days in the 1930s and '40s.

Outside the Lum and Abner Jot 'Em Down Store and Museum in the dot-on-the-map Montgomery County town of Pine Ridge, a billboard advertises the property's availability.

Inside the two attached buildings, co-owner Kathryn Stucker shows a couple of visitors around the overflowing cache of memorabilia from the "Lum and Abner" radio shows. For evidence of its staying power, she points out that the 15-minute comedy aired for 5,800 live broadcasts from 1931 to 1955. Her husband, Lon, relaxes on the porch before coming inside to add his comments.

As the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Sean Clancy reported in a recent Paper Trails column, the Stuckers are both octogenarians. They are asking $777,000 for the store and museum, a three-bedroom home, a 1956 firetruck and a barn on more than 24 acres. As of this writing, there were no offers.

"We love the place," Kathryn told Clancy. "But the trouble is we are both in our 80s and we have to take care of each other."


photoKathryn and Lon Stucker own the museum, store and land but have the property up for sale. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Marcia Schnedler)


In real life, Lum was Chet Lauck and Abner was Tuffy Goff. They grew up near Mena, 20 miles west of Waters. That small community changed its name to Pine Ridge in 1936 after the radio program had made the fictional name famous.

A photo shows Chet Lauck and his Lum character as well as Tuffy Goff and his Abner persona. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Marcia Schnedler)

That same year, the show ranked No. 4 in popularity across the United States. It was ahead of "Amos 'n' Andy," "Fibber McGee and Molly" and the broadcasts of fellow Arkansan Bob Burns, creator of the bazooka musical instrument. It trailed only Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, and George Burns and Gracie Allen.

"Lum and Abner" was the first network program aired from Radio City in New York in 1933. It was the first to do a marathon charity broadcast. It was the first to make a simultaneous transatlantic broadcast with Lauck in London and Goff in Chicago. Their promotions to support America's effort during World War II were widely admired.

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The museum also displays posters and other memorabilia from the six Hollywood movies the pair made during the 1940s: "Dreaming Out Loud" (1940), "The Bashful Bachelor" (1942), "So This Is Washington" (1943), "Two Weeks to Live" (1943), "Goin' to Town" (1944) and "Partners in Time" (1946).

Goff continued to live in the Los Angeles area, where he died in 1978. Lauck returned to Arkansas and helped develop the museum. He died in Hot Springs in 1980.

As a Lum and Abner authority, Kathryn is author of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas entry about the comedians, as well as a booklet for sale at the museum.


photoThe Arkansas Gazettes George Fisher drew this cartoon after the 1978 death of Tuffy Goff, who played Abner. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Marcia Schnedler)


"Their humor was clean and honest, reflecting small-town life and human nature," she has written. "The stories had universal themes."

Also, "Without making fun of anyone and without phony airs, two men possessing a lot of talent connected with a town containing the ingredients needed to entertain the country during a period when there was little to laugh about. The format they created has been used from Nashville to Hollywood and continues to be popular today."

Evidence of that legacy can be glimpsed in the syndicated reruns that populate cable television. Prime examples include "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Green Acres."

"Lum and Abner" never became a television series. But visitors to the Stuckers' museum can listen to a recording of a typical 15-minute radio show. If some of the dialogue seems less than hilarious, the problem may lie partly with the transience of wit. Even some lines in Shakespeare's classic comedies fall flat on a 21st-century ear.


  photo  The Lum and Abner complex in Pine Ridge is being advertised for sale. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Marcia Schnedler)

Lum and Abner Jot Em Down Store and Museum

Address: 4562 Arkansas 88, Pine Ridge

Hours: Days and hours vary; calling ahead is advised: (870) 326-4442.

Admission: Free but contributions are welcome.

Information: lum-abner.com

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