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Tandra Page 1645, Drunks

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I’m sitting on my back porch looking out over the yard as the rising sun brightens the Eastern sky.

I’ve made mention previously that I am watching old television episodes of “Gunsmoke” on DVD. So far I am about half way through the twenty year run on the thing. As with any television series, there are some good shows, a lot of mediocre shows and several that should never have aired.

“Gunsmoke” was never my favourite television series; not even my favourite Western, but I watched it because I was a Television Junkie in those days and “Gunsmoke” was the next show to air on the network I was watching. It was easier to stay on the same channel than to get up and switch to something else. There was no remote in those days and, in any case, there was only three networks available, or four if you counted PBS, which most of us never did.

Most of the “Gunsmoke” shows I remember featured Chester as the sidekick deputy. By the time Festus showed up, I had moved on and television was no longer a part of my cultural life.

But what I remember about “Gunsmoke” from the time it was being broadcast on network television is that “Gunsmoke” was supposed to be an “adult” Western. By that, the promoters apparently meant the show was centered on a bunch of drunks. Marshall Dillon passed more time in the saloon than in his office. That pretty much held for the rest of the cast as well. Of course Miss Kitty lived in the saloon and, after the first couple of seasons wherein she was just a working girl, she bought the place.

Frankly, I’ve never had much interest in bars. I’ve only been in a bar when the guiding force behind a band who was also a friend asked me to draw up designs for T-shirts featuring the band. I went to the bar to take photographs of the band members. But a lot of television shows have cast members frequenting bars on a regular basis. I can’t figure it out. Most of the “Gunsmoke” episodes featuring the various bars (or saloons) in Dodge City show men standing at the bar or sitting at tables drinking beer or whiskey. They are talking or gambling. On most occasions several of them get into an argument and one of them shoots the other. If historical records are to be believed, more men were shot and killed in the Long Branch Saloon in the first season of “Gunsmoke” than the total factually killed in gunfights in all the cow towns in the West from 1865 to 1880 which were the “glory years” of the “Wild West”.

Now I don’t know about you, but I have no interest in going into a place where I am likely to get shot. Neither do I have any interest in drinking.

But bars and saloons remain popular fixtures for television shows. Television characters are always going into bars and, most often, they are in worse condition when they come out than when they go in. I never saw it, but I heard there was a popular television series for years that was centered in a bar. I guess that qualified that series as “adult” also.

Whatever the fascination Hollywood types have for bars, you are not likely to find me in one unless someone in the band asks me to draw designs to go on a T-shirt the band members plan to sell.

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