Hooterville

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Hooterville is a fictional town that was the setting of the American television shows Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, two rural-oriented sitcoms created or commissioned by Paul Henning for Filmways and CBS.

Little concrete or reliable information can be gleaned from the two shows about the town, as references in individual episodes are rife with inconsistencies, contradictions, geographic impossibilities and continuity errors. The writers of the two shows would change the alleged details about the town or its surroundings at will for the purpose of cracking a joke and left certain details (such as its state) purposely vague and unexplained.

Citizens[edit]

The town of Hooterville was founded in 1868 by Horace Hooter. Hooterville was situated at an elevation of 1427 feet.[1] In the episode "The Youth Center," store owner Sam Drucker points out that a sign prepared by the Monroe Brothers showing the population as 48 and the elevation as 23 inches was not correct. He explained to Oliver Douglas that the population was 46 because two young people recently moved away, and the elevation was down to 18 inches. When Oliver Douglas asked him how the elevation could change, Mr. Drucker explains "Hooterville is subject to sinking spells." Interestingly, Oliver Wendell Douglas refers to Hooterville as being "2 1/2 inches above sea level" in Green Acres, Third Season Episode 2 (Lisa's Jam Session). This could be an acceptable alternative considering that the founders most likely would not know how to measure sea level or in true Hooterville fashion would get it incorrect whereas Douglas, having thoroughly educated himself in the agricultural characteristics of the area would. The county had a population of 3,000 citizens (as of 1963), including such residents as Newt Kiley, who farmed over 80 acres (320,000 m²); Ben Miller, the apple farmer; Mr. Haney (first name disputed, Eustace or Charlton), the county con man; Hank Kimball, the idiotic county agent; Sam Drucker, the only shopkeeper in Hooterville; Sarah Hotchkiss Trendell, the telephone operator; The Monroe Brothers, Alf and Ralph (despite Ralph's name and status as a brother, Ralph is a woman - seemingly, only Oliver Wendell Douglas questions the bizarre contradiction); Fred Ziffel, a pig farm owner; Doris "Ruthie" Ziffel, Fred's loud and nosey wife (the couple also owned an intelligent pig named Arnold); Charley Pratt and Floyd Smoot, the engineer and conductor, respectively, of the local train, the Hooterville Cannonball; and Eb Dawson, the handyman for the Douglas family.[2] Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight was the only song that the Hooterville Volunteer Fire Department Marching Band could play—at half speed and somewhat off-key. In Green Acres, it was noted the population of Hooterville (the city) is around 40 people and falling. However, in Petticoat Junction and in Green Acres, Hooterville appears to be a somewhat larger town able to support a high school and several other institutions. In one episode the citizens of Hooterville were so far behind the times that the President was still thought to be Calvin Coolidge!

Petticoat Junction[edit]

Main article: Petticoat Junction

Petticoat Junction (1963–70) was based on the Burris Hotel (once called the Rock Island Hotel[3]) that existed in Eldon, Missouri. Paul Henning, the producer and creator of the show, was married to the granddaughter of the owner of the hotel and often visited.[4]

The Burris became the Shady Rest Hotel, 'located 25 miles (40 km) down the tracks (and apparently the sole business in the area aside from Drucker's). The Shady Rest Hotel was run by widowed Kate Bradley (played by Bea Benaderet) and her lazy, overweight uncle "Uncle Joe" Carson (Edgar Buchanan). Kate had three daughters, "boy crazy" Billie Jo (Jeannine Riley-1963-65), (Gunilla Hutton-1965-66), (Meredith MacRae-1967-70), "book worm" Bobbie Jo (Pat Woodell-1963-65), (Lori Saunders-1965-70), and "tomboy" Betty Jo (Linda Henning-1963-70). In addition to his storekeeping duties, Drucker was also the town's postmaster and publisher of the local weekly newspaper, the Hooterville World Guardian. Drucker also operated a bank, which seemed to consist largely of a cash box located under the counter in his store.

In the song The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, singer Gil Scott-Heron refers to "Green Acres, Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville Junction," the last presumably a deliberate corruption of Petticoat Junction; the song uses these shows as symbols of mainstream viewing habits that "will no longer be so damned relevant" when the "Revolution" comes (indeed, all three shows would end up off the air by the start of the 1971–72 season as part of the television networks' rural purge).[5]

Green Acres[edit]

Main article: Green Acres

Green Acres (1965–71) was about a wealthy New York City couple, lawyer Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert) and his diamond-clad wife, Lisa (Eva Gabor), who give up their Park Avenue penthouse for a run-down farm, "The Old Haney Place". Hooterville in Green Acres was a much more wacky, surreal place than the one in Petticoat Junction, though the shows shared characters, as the humor in Green Acres was often far broader. In the shows' later years, the major overlap between the two was Sam Drucker and his combination general store, post office, and newspaper office. In this series, the town was said to be named after Horace Hooter. According to Green Acres, Hooterville is in "the kangaroo state". When Oliver visits the governor, the governor gives him a stuffed kangaroo as state memorabilia.

Lisa consistently mispronounces the name of the town as Hootersville.

A running gag is that Hooterville is so remote that the only way to get there is by parachute; a plot hole shows however that Hooterville is connected on a railroad and has a nearby airport in Pixley. Likewise Hooterville is so backward that one episode shows the most "recent" election sign urging citizens to vote for Calvin Coolidge, while another has the Hooterville citizens still thinking the President is Herbert Hoover.

Location[edit]

Hooterville was based on the Mid-Missouri town of Eldon, Missouri, where Paul Henning's wife Ruth grew up, although the exact location in the show was never stated. Episode references, in fact, gave conflicting information about the exact location. In numerous episodes, it was said that they were close to Chicago; in one Green Acres episode, Mr. Haney said Chicago was nearly 300 miles (480 km) away. Another time it was said a nearby town was called Springfield, which is also the name of the capital city of Illinois, as well as a city in southwest Missouri. Hooterville may also have been in the Ozarks. One of the working titles for Petticoat Junction had been Ozark Widow (another had been Whistle Stop).

The cast of another CBS show, The Beverly Hillbillies, had some connection with the characters in Petticoat Junction - which is a short distance down the railroad track from Hooterville - when Kate Bradley contacted Granny to assist with Betty Jo Bradley's baby (the same actress, Bea Benederate, played Cousin Pearl Bodine and Kate Bradley).

The Beverly Hillbillies was also connected to the Green Acres characters, in that Granny visited Hooterville and wanted to marry Sam Drucker at one point. The Clampett's banker, "Mr. Drysdale" - alarmed at the possibility of Sam gaining control of the Clampett's fortune by putting their 60 million in a tin box at his general store (it was the Hooterville bank) - hastened to Hooterville to intercede if he could. When Granny was asked how she knew Sam Drucker, she replied "We is neighbors!", and elaborated that Hooterville is only one town away from Bugtussel, where the Clampetts are from, in the next state (Tennessee). This means that - while there are several different states Hooterville could be in, according to the many conflicting clues in the show - according to this clue, Hooterville is in one that borders Tennessee. Well, nine states border Tennessee (Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas), but only North Carolina directly abuts the mountainous area Bugtussel was always said to be in. So is it Hooterville, North Carolina? It's not the most popular guess, or the only guess, but it does follow a major bit of storyline affecting two different shows. Also worth mentioning, regarding this, the town of Hendersonville, North Carolina, which is in about the right location, actually refers to itself as "Hooterville". (Although that may or may not be because of Green Acres. The link leads to one local author's explanation of why they call themselves 'Hooterville', in which he states that the origin of the name pre-dates the show but is from that area.)

It must be pointed out, amongst all this speculation, that the show was rife with conflicting accounts of everything from 'which state is Hooterville in', to 'how Lisa and Oliver first met' - so assigning a location according to the clues is never going to be decisive. It was left up to speculation and will remain that way.

Sam Drucker, Hooterville grocer and postmaster, gives the Zip code for Hooterville as 40516½ in the 1990 reunion show "Return to Green Acres." 40516 is a Zip code for Lexington, Kentucky, a city 375 miles (604 km) from Chicago. Also, Lexington, Kentucky is exactly 55 miles (89 km) from Springfield, Kentucky which further agrees with the theory of Hooterville being a rural suburb of Lexington (see above correlation regarding a town called Springfield). The Simpsons, Guiding Light, Father Knows Best and G.I. Joe have all made locales out of the ambiguity of the location of a town named Springfield. The name approximates Hooverville - a term used for shantytowns and camptowns that emerged during the Great Depression - but it is also the name of a bucolic town on railroad tracks in western Pennsylvania.[6] One episode has an investigator from the New York District Attorney at the Douglas farm trying to find an uncle of Lisa Douglas who was running from paying alimony, implying that "Green Acres" is in rural New York state outside of New York City. However, Hank Kimball indicated in the second season episode "The Vulgar Ring Story" that he was on his lunch break at 10:00 AM, to coincide with Washington's lunch break, and since the official U.S. government lunch hour was 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM, Green Acres would have to be in Central Time, coinciding with the Midwest.[dubious ]

Based on character comments in the third season of Green Acres, Hooterville is not in Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, or Indiana. Each of these places is referred to by characters as being somewhere else. Given its elevation of 1,427 feet (as seen on the sign in the railroad station), Hooterville is too low to be in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, or Wyoming—and too high to be in Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, or Rhode Island.[7]

The license plates used on vehicles in Green Acres are in the style of 1963-68 California plates, with the word "California" obscured. The radio announcer in the second season episode "An Old Fashioned Christmas" noted that the temperature in Pixley was 81 degrees, which would be consistent with the warm weather that California often has, at the same time that the temperature in Chicago was -2 degrees and in Schenectady was 1 degree. Further, "Greenacres" and "Pixley" are place names in the San Joaquin Valley of California.

On the other hand, the call letters of the Pixley radio station Eb listens to in the episode 'Music to Milk By' begin with the letter W, rather than K, which would suggest Pixley is in the Eastern part of the country.

According to the logic of the script, Hooterville may be fairly close to New York City, as characters such as Oliver Wendell Douglas, a former New York City lawyer, and his wife Lisa's mother make trips to and from New York on an occasional basis and appear to make a round trip in a day's time.

According to "Dave Stein's Official Petticoat Junction Site" <http://petticoat.topcities.com/page1.htm>, the inspiration for Hooterville came from Paul Henning's wife, Ruth. As a child, Ruth traveled by train to her grandparents' hotel in Eldon, Missouri. Eldon, Missouri is right at 300 miles (480 km), as the crow files, from Chicago. Other than distance and a hotel near the railroad tracks, though, there is little resemblance between Hooterville and Eldon, Missouri.

Exteriors for the twin Hooterville series were shot by Filmways near Jamestown/Sonora, California, a decidedly rural area.

Towns and cities within 500 miles[edit]

A larger town nearby, although not the county seat, was called "Pixley", and there is an ongoing rivalry between the two communities. Pixley was the closest town from Hooterville. According to the television series Green Acres, Pixley comically boasted several things that no small farm town in America would have. Among them were a very tiny international airport (Pixley International Airport) and a television station (KPIX, Channel 5 [call letters also for a television station in San Francisco, CA]). Other towns in the area were Crabwell Corners (about 5-8 miles (13 km) away), Stankwell Falls (distance never stated), Bug Tussle (about 20-25 miles (40 km) away), Bleedswell (distance never stated), the unnamed county seat (about 75 miles (121 km) away), Springfield (distance never stated), Appleville (300 miles away), Chicago (300 miles away), and the unnamed state capital (500 miles away). Most of the above towns are also apparently near The Beverly Hillbillies "back home" town of Bugtussle. One place mentioned on Hillbillies as being near the above places is Silver Dollar City —apparently an in-joke.

In one episode of Green Acres, "How to Get from Hooterville to Pixley Without Moving", the Douglas's farmhouse is thought to be in Pixley and the barn in Hooterville. By the episode's end, we learn there was an error and the farmhouse is in Hooterville after all. The barn is in Pixley and much to Oliver's surprise the rest of his farm is in Crabwell Corners, so the three towns must be of large physical areas.

In one episode of Petticoat Junction, surveyors determined that the Shady Rest Hotel was built on top of the city boundary line between Hooterville and Pixley. This implied that the two towns were much closer together than originally thought.

In one episode, Billie Jo talks about going to the big city Omaha, Nebraska, and in another Uncle Joe talks about going to Sioux City, Iowa.

In one episode, Hooterville is so obscure that it can only be found after a fly "covered" it on a map; in another episode the only way a government bureaucrat could get to Hooterville was by parachute! {although Hooterville and Petticoat Juncation have a railroad and roads!}

Further information[edit]

Tropiano, Stephen (2000). TV Towns. New York, NY: TV Books L.L.C. ISBN 1-57500-127-6.

Petticoat Junction was based on the Burris Hotel that existed in Eldon, Missouri. Paul Henning, the producer and creator of the show, was married to the granddaughter of the owner of the hotel and often visited.[8]

In the popular television series Two and a Half Men, one of the episodes is named after this town, "It never rains in Hooterville".[citation needed] In one scene, Alan is talking to Charlie Harper about his disastrous camp night with his son Jake when it started raining. Charlie asked him where Jake is now and Alan tells him that he went with his friends to Hooterville and Charlie replies "It never rains in Hooterville".

The inside smirks from viewers understood the double entendre and subliminal reference of the town, as the theme song mentions... "lots of curves, you bet. Even more when you get to the Junction" referring to the curvacious Bradley girls who live in Hooterville. Today Hooterville could mean any small country town far away or it could mean a place with many females.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-04-10. 
  2. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058808/fullcredits#cast
  3. ^ "Miller County Hotels". Miller County Museum & Historical Society. 2007-03-07. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  4. ^ David Stein (1998). "Petticoat Junction Black & White Episodes". Official Petticoat Junction Web Site. Retrieved July 25, 2012 (defunct). 
  5. ^ Tom Moon, 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: A Listener's Life List (Workman Publishing Company, 2008), ISBN 978-0761139638, p. 684. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  6. ^ "MapQuest Maps - Driving Directions - Map". Mapquest.com. Retrieved 2014-04-10. 
  7. ^ "List of U.S. states by elevation". Wikipedia. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  8. ^ [3]