Friday, November 26, 2004

Schulman: Three by Schulman - From the Vaults of Memory

Max Schulman was a popular screenwriter and humorist in the 1950's, with movie and TV credits like The Tender Trap, Rally Round the Flag, Boys! and The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. I first found his books on my father's bookshelf in this collection that includes Barefoot Boy with Cheek*, The Feather Merchants and Not as a Crocodile.

The first of the three tells the story of the naive country boy who goes off to college, and how he fares there. At one point, this "barefoot boy" goes off into an ecstatic description of a notable meal at home (consisting mostly of bread and lard in "mass quantities", as I recall): "My, how we eat! My aunt Alice B. Toklas*, she et so much once, she got the bloat and we had to roll her home. Lord, how we eat!" So you can see why this particular passage would spring to my mind during the dessert course of the Thanksgiving Day dinner.

If you can find this book (now, sadly, out of print) in a used book store or yard sale, grab it up. The characters and situations are only dated in the fact that no one uses a cell phone or computer - otherwise, if you've been to college, you've met every one of the people in Barefoot Boy with Cheek. Well, perhaps you've not encountered the Communist activiste whose nude body our barefoot boy confronted in shock: "What's the matter?" she snapped. "Haven't you ever seen supernumerary nipples before?" "Yes," he replied, "but always in even numbers..."

*The title comes from a poem that begins "Blessings on thee, little man, barefoot boy with cheek of tan!" Schulman's readers in the 50's would have been familiar with the poem, and also have known Alice B. Toklas as the name of Gertrude Stein's lover...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had an LP of Hudson & Landry when I was at college. The only skit I remember is the drunken guy at the airport, belligerently telling the stews they'd "better hold that plane"... turns out he's the PILOT. Thanks for the reminder and the link to the CD version. :D Jack Schitt

11/28/2004 4:54 PM  
Blogger DrPat said...

Thanks, Jack - BTW, I think I knew you in college. No? Okay, I guess I didn't know Jack Schitt...

Mom sent the following:

And do you remember: "Lord how we eat! Maw usta lay 50 pounds of lard drippins and 10 loaves of bread on the table and say, 'Eat up chillin, what's food for if'n it ain't ta eat?' Lord, how we did eat."

Your Dad still quotes that at least weekly. ...Mom
I knew it involved bread and lard! I'm not surprised at his memory, though - remember, it was his book before I stole... er, borrowed it for a few years.

12/01/2004 5:17 PM  
Anonymous isabelle said...

"the barefoot boy" is also mentioned in a song by finnish epic metal band nightwish. their songs are like poems, it's quite beautiful:

...The wild calls no more
Wishes so hollow
The Barefoot Boy
weeping in an empty night...


1/21/2007 12:22 PM  
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