Sam Tucker radio show

by Booms, Busts, and Dusters

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Twelve Honors 3301 students in Ken Baake's 2017 class worked on writing, editing, planning, and performing this program, done in the style of an old time radio show. Our model was the Hank Williams "Health and Happiness Shows" broadcast on several small radio stations across the South in 1949. In the show, Hank would talk with an emcee and sing a few songs.

Material for our program came from the George Sessions Perry novel, Hold Autumn in Your Hand (1941), about a family of East Texas tenant cotton farmers during the Great Depression. Our program begins with a short sample of the old C&W song "Blackland Farmer," written by Faron Young and originally sung by Frankie Miller. Then we have a brief discussion about the Blackland Prairies of Texas, followed by a dialogue from the book. We find Sam and his wife Nona arriving at their decrepit not-at-all new farm house with their family, including the irascible Granny.

What follows is our song about Sam Tucker and family and their challenges, and life lessons learned. Students worked in groups to write the lyrics for the various chapters to fit the tune of the old cowboy folk song, "Sam Bass."

We wrap up with a commercial about a doctor losing his hair and replacing it with prickly pear cactus--thanks to the wonders of a new tonic. Any resemblance between Doctor Sagebrush's hair and Dr. Baake's is purely coincidental.


Sam Tucker dealt in sand farms
Till called to San Pedro
He loaded up his family
And moved them awful slow
Sam planned to fix the house
It's shape was quite sad
He always tried to keep good spirits
Which made ole' Granny mad

Sam caught himself some buffalo fish
Then caught a ride to town
He made three bucks and twenty cents
And wiped his family’s frown
Some candy, snuff, and whiskey
He bought most the whole store
For his family’s smiling faces
He caught and trapped some more

His son fell ill with something
Sam wasn’t too sure how
The doctor said, “He needs some milk
Go get that boy a cow”
So Sam went to his neighbor
Who had that extra cow
His neighbor was a kind old man
A gift he would allow

The cow was next to sickness
It bloated big and great
Sam knew he must do something
Before it was too late
So he went with his gut feeling
To let all the gas out
Sam stuck her with a big ol’ knife
And nearly passed right out

Sam and Johnny went to the bar
To drink a pint of beer
Seaman and Lizzie stole their change
And Johnny was filled with fear
Seaman fired his .45
The boys ran to the street
With rocks they had to fight him off
It was a stunning feat

Lead Pencil was the biggest fish
Sam Tucker ever saw
To Sam and Clappy Finley
He was bigger than a hog
And then one day when all alone
Sam saw his trot line move
Despite his catch, he gave it up
And Henry hid the truth

Henry wrecked Sam's garden
Sam wanted him to pay
The only way Sam saw was fair
Was to ambush where he lay
Henry struck out with his knife
And lashed across Sam's back
Oh, what a pounding Henry will get
When the club comes right down smack!

Sam's ideas on how to live
were Texan as can be
To work with nature was the best
though the wages were measly
The higher pay of fact'ry life
proved to be a moral scourge
But he came to know that doing right
don't always mean livin’ large.

It took a while but a larger truth
Was finally made clear
Sam will never make it
If they don’t have some cheer
Work is hard and days are long
It could really get you down
But it’s worth it in the end if only
you choose not to frown.


Whistling, male advertising voice: Shane
Dialogue roles: Blair is Nona, Jonathan is Sam; Carli is Granny.
Emcees: Courtney, Tyler
County Extension Agent: Taylor
Female advertising voice: Claire
Booms, Busts, and Duster's music group: Caleb, lead vocal, Kendall, backup harmony, Tristan, bass, Ken (Dr. B), guitar.
Photographs (still to come): Kloe

Studio engineer: Amy Devoge, Texas Tech Crossroads Recording Studio


tags: folk Lubbock


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Ken Baake Lubbock, Texas

Ken was born in Baltimore in 1955. He grew up hearing everyone from Johnny Mercer and Ray Charles to the Beatles on the family hi-fi, with a usual Saturday encore of Wagner's operas. Ken has degrees in English and economics and a background in journalism. He is currently an associate professor of English at Texas Tech, teaching classes in rhetoric. ... more

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