Open March 1 to November 15,
Tuesday thru Saturday, 9 am - 5 PM. Sunday 12 - 5 PM. Closed Monday except by appointment.
Open by appointment Dec, Jan. & Feb.
All tours - call 870-326-4442
in advance. We will make special arrangement to accommodate you. Large parking lot.
Wheelchair ramp. Free Admission.
"Hello, Jot 'Em Down
Store. This is "Lum 'N' Abner"
That was one of the most
welcome greetings on radio for nearly twenty-five years. Chester "Chet" Lauck (
Lum Eddards) and Norris 'Tuffy" Goff (Abner Peabody) were the creators, actors,
writers, sound effects men, directors, and the life of the "Lum 'N' Abner"
Program. They received more fan mail than any radio program of the time- one and a
half million letters one special week!
Their budding careers
began as young, amateur performers in Mena, Ark., where they grew up together, teaming to
entertain at many school and civic functions. On April 26, 1931, representing Polk
and Montgomery Counties on station KTHS in Hot Springs, Ark., they tried out their old
country storekeepers routine. The names, "Lum Eddards" and "Abner
Peabody", were a spur of the moment addition and the format was more conversational
than situational, but the performers showed so much talent that they were invited
back. Then, offered a 13 week contract with NBC and obtaining Quaker Oats as a
sponsor, they were off to Chicago for "temporary" show business careers.
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.
Many of the fictional
residents of Pine Ridge were inspired by the actual residents of Pine Ridge and the
surrounding area, but only the many voices of Lauck and Goff were heard on the
radio. Chet Lauck was Lum, Grandpappy Spears, and Cedric Wehunt. Tuffy Goff
was Abner, Squire Skimp, Mousey Grey, Dick Huddleston, and most of the other characters
developed over the years. They kept in touch with Pine Ridge and the local residents
listened closely to hear what would be made of the latest news.
The stories that were so
busy on the program are still busy today - housing the LUM 'N' ABNER MUSEUM & JOT 'EM
DOWN STORE. The Huddleston Store holds the souvenir and gift shop, continuing to
offer Lum 'N' Abner programs and premiums in addition to antiques and crafts. The
smaller A.A. McKenzie Store that was built in 1904 and was originally across the street,
just as the fictional Jot 'Em Down Store was on the program, has been moved next door and
displays the many pieces of Lum 'N' Abner history, preserving an important era in American
Chester Lauck was born
in 1901, in Aleene, Ark., and Norris Goff was born in 1906, in Cove, Ark. Both moved
to Mena in 1911 and lived there, marrying and starting families, until the big move into
show business. The various sponsors throughout the years required many moves leading
to a final jump to Hollywood in 1939 to make motion pictures. Those sponsors were
Quaker Oats, Ford Motor Co., Horlick's Malted Milk, Alka Seltzer (the longest lasting
association), and General Motors. From the late 1930's to the early 1950's, seven
movies were made, with a radio studio provided behind the set to continue broadcasting the
daily programs. Retirement from this hectic schedule came after twenty-four and a
half years of 13-week contracts! The Goff's stayed in California where Norris Goff
died in June of 1978. The Laucks eventually returned to Arkansas and aided in the
development of the LUM 'N' ABNER MUSEUM. Chester Lauck died in February of 1980.