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Home » ARTSY FARTSY » JEAN SHEPHERD more rat catcher and (143) ARTSY Bill & Billy

JEAN SHEPHERD more rat catcher and (143) ARTSY Bill & Billy

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The great Stanley.  I never saw this character!  The great Stanley again!

“Look,” he says, “I’ll get you some of the stuff.  Stanley had his own way,” he said.  “What do you want?”

I say, “Gee, what do rats eat?  How about some cheese, some old hamburger, or something like that?”

He calls out, “Okay, Madge, fix up some of that stuff that Stanley used to use.”

Stanley had his own bait!  So she goes in the back and about five minutes later she comes out and what does she have?  “This is what Stanley invented.”  I’m working under the great Stanley.  Stanley would take old hamburger, stuff that’s gotten gamey, and he would have this woman grind up old cheese ends and mix them together and make little balls out of it.  She comes out with a plastic bag full of these little balls.  She says, “The older they get the better they are.”

“Okay.”

I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  I go out with my little bag of bait.  I walk down by the tracks and I set a couple of traps.  I put one under a big cardboard cutting table and I put one in the back where they throw out all the garbage, and I walk up and down and put one back of the Coke machine.  I put out all fifteen of them, so I come back into the office and I say to Chester, “All my traps are out.”

He says, “Don’t bother me with it!  That’s your job!  Don’t tell me your troubles.  I got my own troubles!”

What am I supposed to do?  I hang around a bit.  The best thing to do is to stay out of their sight.  I go out, I look at Sophie.  She’s flipping the tin.

“How are you, Sophie?”

She says, “I’m alright.”  Flipping the tin.  She’s looking at me and she says, “Say, can I ask you a question?”

I say, “Yeah, baby.”

“Where’s Stanley?”

Stanley!  “I don’t know where Stanley is.  He got transferred to the main office.”

“If you see him, tell him Sophie has been asking for him.”

Stanley’s not only the greatest rat catcher that the tin mill ever saw, but he’s also making it with the chicks.

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BILL & BILLY

Bill’s “Snarky Parker”–1950 & Billy Stewart–1956

I’ve recently become aware of two extraordinary musical “performers.” One of whom hadn’t crossed my mind in over sixty years and who had only performed to my ears and eyes for one television season when I was about 12 and he was made of wood. The other I only encountered at age 79.

[Oh, the 1950s were a strangely quirky time!]

Snarky Parker–1950 video

One of my fondest memories of television (in addition to staring at the early-in-the-day test patterns), was in 1950, a goofy guy pounding away rinky-tink on an old upright piano.

He was a puppet named Snarky Parker. (I later found out that he was a creation of the great, early TV puppeteer, Bill Baird.) It was a 15-minute daily program called Life With Snarky Parker, and it had a little story line each day, but the only part I remember was when Snarky began the program playing  the piano, looking and moving suspiciously like song-writer Hoagy Carmichael, creator of “Stardust,” “Georgia on my Mind,” “Ole Buttermilk Sky,” and many others. Somehow, Bill and Hoagy combined here (with a casually balanced cigarette) in an ARTSY stunner.

Hoagy played in several films, including with

Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not.

But quirky Snarky remains stuck in my mind.

Billy Stewart

 Our alarm clock-radio wakes us up to mostly contemporary pop/rock music every morning. One day I heard a very unusual creation of sounds in an odd interpretation of “Summertime,” but, as usual, the performer’s name wasn’t announced. I YouTubed “Summertime” and found a TV video in monochrome green, with someone I never heard of—Billy Stewart, lip-syncing his 1956 recording.

1956 on a 45 RPM

His performance is one of the most fascinating pieces I’ve ever heard. He uses his voice and his mental agility as a quirky musical instrument, doing a take-off of the song that in this rendition, for me, is a jazz masterpiece. It grabs me by the ear and engulfs me in ARTSY amazement.

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