I’ve been waiting 45 years for this opportunity.
In 1971, the geniuses at CBS took the popular country music and comedy television variety show “Hee Haw” off the air after only two years. Granted, it quickly recovered in regional syndication, and it can still be seen today on RFD-TV, a great station, by the way.
Reportedly, “Hee Haw” was canceled in 1971 as part of the network’s “rural purge" (along with “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Mayberry R.F.D.” and “Green Acres”). All four shows, however, have remained popular in syndicated re-runs.
Forty-five years ago, CBS execs just didn’t think “Hee Haw” was hip haw for y’all. But maybe it was, after all, and they just didn’t realize it. (It was the early ’70s, you know. Peace. Love. Dope.)
Colin (my favorite son) and I were watching Chris Rose and Kevin Millar this week on their “Intentional Talk” baseball show on the MLB Network. And just who should appear as their special guest, you ask?
No, it wasn’t Buck Owens or Roy Clark or Grandpa Jones.
It was one Salvatore Anthony "Torey" Lovullo, the 51-year-old manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Lovullo was the first base coach for the Toronto Blue Jays from 2011-12 and the bench coach for the Boston Red Sox from 2013-16.
A switch-hitting utility player, Lovullo was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 1987 and came up with the Tigers on Sept. 10, 1988. He later played for the New York Yankees, California Angels, Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Indians. His MLB playing career ended with the 1999 season.
Enough about Lovullo and baseball. You’ve probably never heard of Torey Lovullo, anyway.
But – go ahead and admit it – you have heard of “Hee Haw,” haven’t you?
Torey Lovullo’s father, Sam, was a producer for “Hee Haw,” as the current Arizona D-backs skipper revealed on “Intentional Talk” this week. Who knew?
Lovullo challenged “IT” hosts Rose and Millar to “do a Google search” and find the “Hee Haw” episodes that he was on. I haven’t done that, but I will share a few “Hee Haw” memories from watching the show with my dad when it originally aired on CBS and from watching subsequent shows in syndication.
First off, without a doubt, Don Harron was the funniest newsman in Kornfield Kounty and perhaps in all media history, Petroleum Nasby notwithstanding.
Don delivered the news in character as radio announcer Charlie (K-O-R-N) Farquharson with a live laying hen perched above his right shoulder. Sometimes, the chicken got more laughs than Farquharson. (“Are you done, now?” Farquharson might ask, offhandedly, after the hen dropped her second egg in the straw.)
Then, of course, there was the used car salesman (call BR-549) and Culhanes family member Junior Samples and his words of wisdom. When seated on the Culhanes family sofa in one episode, cousin Lulu (Roman) asked cousin Junior to say “rubber baby buggy bumper five times fast.”
Junior replied: “Rubber baby buggy bumper five times fast.”
Now, that’s humor (albeit corn-pone). I don’t care who you are, it’s still funnier than a clown on stilts.
And who can forget Grand Ole Opry star Minnie Pearl and her motherly advice to the Hee Haw Honeys?
As Minnie told it, all the girls who attended the Saturday night barn dance would meet up in church on Sunday morning and discuss who received the most dances and kisses the night before. The signal was simple: Each time a young lady said “morning,” it was an indication of being kissed. One of the more attractive ladies showed up and said “Good morning, everyone. What a beautiful morning it is this morning.” That meant she received three kisses and dances on Saturday night.
When someone asked Minnie if she had anything to say on that lovely Sunday morning, she didn’t miss a beat. She just offered up her one-word Opry stage trademark greeting of “HOW-DEEEE.”
Then, of course, there was my favorite country barber, Archie Campbell. Archie never cut anyone’s hair, to the best of my recollection. In fact, his only customer in the barber’s chair was Roy Clark, and many times Roy sat there with his hat still on. Archie’s barbershop was all about the story and the conversation between Archie and Roy.
Every time Roy walked into the Kornfield Kounty Koiffeur’s shop, he said hello to the boys first: Grandpa, Stringbean, Gordie, Junior, Kenny Price and maybe that particular episode’s musical guest. Former Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench was one such guest, by the way. But I’m not sure if ol’ No. 5 got invited to Archie’s barbershop.
One of Archie Campbell’s all-time classic stories was that of “Rindercella,” an intentional spoonerism in which Archie transposes the initial sounds or letters of the words in his story for humorous effect.
"Rindercella" was Archie’s version of "Cinderella," the girl who "slopped her dripper" (dropped her slipper). You can go online to your favorite search site and type in “Archie Campbell Rindercella” and watch the episode. It is hilarious.
Another barbershop classic back-and-forth between Archie and Roy was the famous "That's Bad/That's Good" routine. It’s available online as well. A typical conversation might go like this:
Roy: “How’s it going, Archie?”
Archie: “Not too good. My wife fell to the bottom of our well last night.”
Roy: “That’s bad.”
Archie: “No, that’s good.”
Roy: “Oh, yeah, how come?”
Archie: “There was a pot of gold at the bottom of that well.”
Roy: “That’s good.”
Archie: “No, that’s bad.”
Roy: “How come?”
Archie: “There weren’t no water in the bottom of that well.”
And so it would go.
Cathy Baker served as the “Hee Haw” emcee and closed the show with just two chipper words: "That's all!"
Thanks be to Torey Lovullo and the whole “Intentional Talk” gang for bringing “Hee Haw” into the late 2016 sports media conversation. I suspect Chris Rose is a-pickin’ and Kevin Millar’s a-grinnin.’
We loved the time we spent with you,
To share a song and a laugh or two,
May your pleasures be many, your troubles be few.
We’ll see you next week on “Hee Haw.”
Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.