This image has been featured by the group “Rural America” 8/08.
This general store is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Lum and Abner” aired on radio as a fifteen-minute comedy serial from 1931 thru 1948, becoming a half-hour weekly comedy series from 1948-1950 and returning to quarter-hour format in 1953, ending its run in 1954. The subtle and witty shows stared Chester Lauck and Norris “Tuffy” Goff as Lum Edwards and Abner Peabody, owners and proprietors of the Jot ’Em Down Store in Pine Ridge, Arkansas.
Lauck and Goff were both born and raised in Arkansas and always maintained a strong love and affection for the characters they met and grew up with in their home state – quirks and all. The timeless and colorful characters they created for the show – most portrayed by Lauck and Goff themselves – make listening to “Lum and Abner” just as enjoyable and entertaining an experience today as it was when the shows were first aired many decades ago.
Their “Lum and Abner,” show featured Lum Edwards, (pronounced “Eddards”), and Abner Peabody, who operated a small country store (“The Jot ’Em Down Store”) in the mythical village of Pine Ridge, Arkansas.
The program became one of the most listened to shows in America and Lauck and Goff, the native sons who made the show what it was, were particularly well regarded by their fellow Arkansans. In 1936, in response to the popularity of the program, the residents of the tiny town of Waters petitioned to have the village renamed Pine Ridge. It is located about 20 miles east of Mena, and although little remains of what was never a large town, Pine Ridge remains the site of a museum dedicated to the memory of those who made it famous—Lum and Abner.
Pine Ridge is only slightly smaller now than it was in the early 1900’s when it was called Waters, the site of a post office, saw mill, blacksmith shop, and the other services necessary to a farm community. Dick Huddleston built his store in 1909 and bought groceries from a wholesaler named Mr. Goff. Mr. Goff’s son, Norris, was learning the grocery business delivering to many Polk and Montgomery County general stores. Mr. Lauck owned the big sawmill in Mena so all of the residents of this logging country knew his son, Chester, checking the trucks of logs being delivered.
Dick Huddleston was a friend to them all and a leader in the community of Waters. The general store of any small town was its hub of activity, especially on a Saturday afternoon when everyone from the surrounding farms came to town to trade goods and stories. That was the inspiration for the Lum ‘N’ Abner program. By the mid-1930’s the radio program was well-known nation-wide and the listeners were asking where Pine Ridge was, so the name of the town was changed in an elaborate ceremony on the steps of the State Capitol in Little Rock in 1936, on the fifth anniversary of the program. Pictures in the LUM ‘N’ ABNER MUSEUM show all of the participants – the Governor greeting Lum, Abner, and the real-life counterparts of Grandpappy Spears, Cedric Wehunt, Dick Huddleston, etc
During its long run, “Lum and Abner” was heard on practically every radio network in existence, starting with NBC (Red and Blue simultaneously, according to Chet Lauck), bouncing to Dallas-Fort Worth’s WFAA and WBAP only, back to NBC, then to Cincinnati only, then being one of the first programs on the fledgling Mutual Network, back to NBC, to CBS… “Doggies, Lum, stop this merry-go-round!” By 1944, “the boys” were broadcasting for Miles Laboratories on the almost-new network ABC, formerly the NBC Blue Network. Being a small network, the Keystone Broadcasting System recorded each program for distribution to stations not connected directly to ABC, providing national coverage for “Lum and Abner” and making it possible for these classic episodes to exist today.
The “Jot ’em Down Store” is the little town’s only commercial structure. It is combination general store, post office, and Lum and Abner Museum. The post office still operates today. The storekeeper, postmistress, and museum guide, Kathy Stucker is very knowledgeable and made us feel right at home.