Editor’s Note: Back when there were only three major TV networks, the end of August meant the start of the new TV season. And, just like now, back then, before the days of “Happy Days” and “Laverne & Shirley,” none of the primetime shows were set in Milwaukee. Even then, Milwaukee Journal humor columnist Gerald Kloss complained about it, as he did in this “Slightly Kloss-Eyed” column, first published on this date in 1965. (Some footnotes TV-related footers: Broderick Crawford was the gruff, burly police commander on the popular 1950s show “Highway Patrol”; “The Man From UNCLE.” was a hit and tongue-in-cheek spy drama in the mid-1960s; and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. was the star of the square-jawed detective series “The FBI,” another hit of the 1960s.
Television networks are plugging their fall schedules with new shows, and once again Milwaukee has seemingly been eliminated from the lineup as the setting for sitcom or drama series.
It’s enough to make you see red the way these network bigwigs turn down surefire Emmy contenders as follows.
“Gaspareau Patrol”: A tense and engrossing series of adventures, starring Broderick Crawfish as the gruff and burly commander of Milwaukee’s patrol fleet, protecting our rivers and harbor from the annual invasion of gaspereaux.
In the opening episode, Crawfish receives orders from Harbor Commissioner Harry Butterbrickle to make sure no gaspereau slip past the Milwaukee River bubble barrier while the massive National Convention of scent sniffers are in town – the stench of the deceased fish would drive the scents out of their skulls and give the town a black eye, at the smell level.
“They will not pass !” Crawfish growls, and he doubles the watch on the bubble barrier. But a diver from Cleveland, Milwaukee’s vengeful rival for the scent sniffer convention, manages to slip past the guard at midnight and foul the bubble apparatus, just as a harbor lookout spots a formidable shoal of incoming alewife and shouts the traditional cry: “She stinks!”
Crawfish and his men try valiantly to stem the tide of wriggling alewife with boat oars and empty beer bottles, but they slowly have to give way. Then Crawfish has a brilliant idea: he calls Lawrence Welk, who is hosting a date dance at a local Golden Age club, and gets permission from the conductor to use his bubble machine as a substitute for bubble barrier emergency disabled.
The Welk bubble machine works perfectly in the river, and the gaspereaux turn around and waltz out to sea, heading for Cleveland. Crawfish, Butterbrickle and the weary but successful men of the Alewife Patrol join in the show’s lighthearted theme: “The Alewife are coming, their fins are in sight; the Alewife is coming, and it’s not a scare!”
“The SCHUSTERS Man”: A series of tongue-in-cheek comedy adventures starring Efrem Cymbalist Jr. as a comparison shopper in the sheet department of the Society for Careful Hawking of Underwear, Briefs, Teapots, Escarolle and Reconstituted Scarfs (SCHUSTERS).
Aided by his quiet and efficient sidekick, Ilya Krakpotkin, our hero foils an attempt by MACYS, the sinister Mayhem, Assassination, Crime and Yoks Society, to plant capsule weevils in our nation’s pillowcase warehouses, as way to drive our citizens mad from lack of sleep and thus become pawns in some grand conspiracy or whatever.
The cymbalist’s big line in the opening show is delivered after he praises two of the destructive insects for scientific observation. “Finally, finally – I am the lessor of two weevils!” while Krakpotkin winces in mental anguish and silently swears to switch allegiance to MACYS.
“Fenderswipe!” : A half-hour program, shown to crowds of teenagers and televised live Saturday nights from downtown Milwaukee, shows the kids bombing Wisconsin Ave. in their convertibles. Emcee Stark Raven interviews the winners of the red light drag strip on 4th Street, and fitting background music is provided by Hailfellow Wellmet and the Hubcaps, twangy guitar and electric kazoo attire. Gladly sponsored by Body Shops of Greater Milwaukee.
About this feature
Every Thursday, the Green Leaf brings back some of the stories and features that gave the old Green Leaf its distinct identity, including Gerald Kloss’ “Slightly Kloss-Eyed” column. Look for them in print and online at jsonline.com/green-sheet.