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The Gooks—Vic, Sade and Rush

The Milwaukee Journal – Oct 20, 1940
NINE years ago last June, Paul Rhymer was dozing comfortably in NBC continuity office in Chicago. Everyone had gone and, in the quiet of the Saturday afternoon, he was enjoying his spring fever in an orgy of laziness.

Into this placid scene strode C. L Menser, looking for a continuity writer to dish up a script for three actors he wanted to audition the unluckiest guy in the world, simply because he hadn’t gone home, but he pounded out a script and turned it in. The three actors never were hired, but Rhymer’s script was it was “Vic and Sade”-now the most popular serial story on the air.
Just recently, the women’s national radio committee announced its last survey showed that the whimsical story of the “Gook family, halfway up in the next block,” appeals to women in every block and every farm because it’s “complete in each broadcast” and because it’s “about people like ourselves.”

Vic and Sade” started its ninth year on NBC last June 29, with the same actors who appeared in the premiere program—Art Van Harvey as Vic. Bernardine Flynn as Sade, and Billy Idelson as “their boy Rush.” “Bern” Flynn is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and was responsible for getting Don Ameche, another former Badger, started in network radio.

In the years that the program has been on the air, only two additional characters have made an appearance. Cliff Soubier spoke one line as Gumpox, the garbage man, and Clarence Hartzell was in the script for two or three weeks as Uncle Fletcher while Art Van Harvey was ill. At present, Hartzell is listed as an “emergency actor.” He will not be reintroduced to the plot unless Vic, Sade or Rush is taken ill and has to be out of the story for some time.

Names like Uncle Fletcher and Gumpox, incidentally, have given the story of “Vic and Sade” a Dickens’ touch. The famous Peeksniff, Scrooge, Micawber and Fagin of Dickens’ imagination are being rivaled by such script character as I. Edson Box, Sam Shout, I. A. Skurg, C. Upson Litch, Homer Steepey, T. Ronaldson Beef, August Whine, U. X. Johnsos, Montgomery Skeegle, Hank Gatsop, Blue Tooth Johnson, Mr. Sludge, Smelly Clark, Le Roy Snow and the Gooks themselves.
There are Mr. Buller, who pulls his own teeth; Lodge Brother Flirtch, who gets hit by trains and skips hotel bills; Le Roy Snow, who won beautiful baby contest—one after another until the dentist put his teeth in braces, his oculist gave him glasses, his parents let him shave his head, and he added an ear trumpet to his collection. There’s Mr. Sludge who sobs if his shoes are too tight, and Gumpox, the garbage man, who worries because Howard, his horse, suffers dizzy spells.

Yet, with the single exception of Gumpox, none of these highly entertaining characters ever have been heard and Gumpox had but one line. They merely are subject matter for Rhymer’s five different stories a week a difficult writing task, since there are but three speaking characters. But in his years of “Vic and Sade” scripts, Rhymer has evolved many tricks to keep the stories free from monotony.
One trick is to give each of the Gooks a turn as star of the show. In one episode, for example, Sade dashed in to inform Vic and Rush that she’d been elected president of the Ladies’ Thimble club.

Husband and son formed an admiring background while Sade did most of the talking. Another trick is to alternate action and dialog and to change locale of the scenes. One day the script may be based on the hectic excitement of searching for Vic’s lodge equipment half an hour before a meeting. Next day, the Gooks may be sitting quietly on the front porch, just talking things over, and the next day, Rush may go out for the Sunday paper in his pajamas—only to find he has locked himself out, and the neighbors coming home from church!

The incidents in the story are little “homey” things that have happened to everyone listening and there’s never a villain nor a “tear jerker” to shove “Vic and Sade” down into the category of other daytime serials.

In previous numbers in this series, dialog used in the story has been included and it will be here, but with the admonition to tune to the program on WTMJ at 2:45 p. m. to really get the full benefit of the lines. A sample from a recent broadcast follows:
Sade Had about 14 conversations about Christmas an’ the mail man brought three letters about Christmas. Willie, will ya run out in the dining room an’ bring what’s on top of the buffet?
Sade—(To Vic) Golly, how time flies Christmases pile up on top of each other like oysters. (Giggles) Well, the easy slipper season’s started.
Vic—Has it?
Sade—Every year Bess asks what size easy slipper I take. Why don’t she make a note of it on her cuff?
Sade—(Lightly) Oh, well.
Rush—(Coming up) No mail for me today, huh, mom?
Sade—Guess not. (To Vic) Say, an’ the storage space season has started.
Vic—Storage space season?
 Sade—People wantin’ storage space for their Christmas presents.
Vic (Oh) Um.


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