Things are not always what they seem. The surface may be bright and sparkling but beneath may lie a pool of unremitting darkness. “Leave It To Beaver” is one such example. Being a person of the retired persuasion, on most mornings I have settled into a Rona induced rut. The alarm goes off at 5:45 a.m. Taking a tip from the Baha Boys’ greatest hit, I let the dogs out. I can catch the last 15 minutes of “Dragnet” on ME TV which means I get to watch Friday and Gannon exchange meaningful glances and walk without moving their arms. This is just in time to watch them bust the Bad Guy. The announcer intones in a voice that predates Morgan Freeman by saying “Trial was held on such and such a date. In a moment the results of that trial.” I always hope that just once the Bad Guy is found not guilty. It does not seem too much to ask. But alas, the Bad Guy never hires Perry Mason or even Matlock. He is always found guilty. He is still serving time in San Quentin. Then comes the sweaty arm that pounds Mark VII into a metal plate. The show is over. The coffee begins to kick in about the time the dogs begin scratching at the door.
Next up is “Morning Joe” who was much more entertaining when the Former Guy was President. Recently it was Boring Joe. I changed channels to watch “Leave It To Beaver.” That particular episode involved Beaver switching a birthday present. Naturally, he got caught lying about the old switcheroo. Ward called Beaver into his study for a good talking to. Beaver learned his lesson like he did in all 234 episodes. All of this was standard “Leave to Beaver” stuff. But the episode suddenly took a hard turn into the “Twilight Zone” when Ward and June sat down to discuss Beaver’s faults. Ward was reading the Mayfield newspaper which had a giant headline that had the word MURDER in all caps.
Murder in Mayfield? This went against everything known about Beaver’s hometown. Previously the most exciting thing that ever happened was when Beaver got stuck in a giant coffee cup on a billboard. I was so startled I backed up the TV to see if I had been mistaken. Sure enough, the last word in the headline was MURDER. Realizing that no one would believe this without proof, I took a picture of the Cleavers and the headline which appears with this column. Who was murdered? Was there a serial killer loose in Mayfield? Had Eddie Haskell finally slipped the thin veneer of civilization that coated him in a thin candy shell like an M&M candy left in a hot car in July and gone into a homicidal rage? Had Lumpy Rutherford flipped out because the gang kept calling him Lumpy instead of his real name Clarence? Was Miss Landers actually a North Korean Spy who tired of indoctrinating fourth graders and went on a killing spree at the VFW Lodge? Had Principal Cornelia Ray gone “Full Metal Jacket” and finally killed Eddie Haskell herself? These questions went unanswered as just the last word of the headline was visible in Ward’s formerly nicotine-stained hands.
Perhaps the MURDER headline was just an inside joke some screenwriter put into Ward’s hands thinking no one would notice it. Wouldn’t you think that Ward would be discussing a murder spree in Mayfield with June rather than the birthday party incident? Unless Ward was trying to divert June from the article by discussing birthday trivia rather than a gruesome murder in Mayfield. Look at the way Ward is holding the paper so that June can’t see the headline. Does Ward have something to hide? Is Ward the Mayfield Murderer? Was Ward sitting on the couch reading about the murder, chuckling because he had committed the perfect crime when June unexpectedly finished the dishes and sat down beside him? Had Ward finally snapped under the incessant pressure from his boss Fred Rutherford to sell more insurance? Had he hired Eddie Haskell to whack Fred? Having watched many episodes of “Dragnet” I have been trained to look for clues. The seeming nonchalance of Ward carefully folding the paper to conceal the headline from June can mean only one thing. Ward did it. Ward is the Mayfield Murderer. Friday and Gannon would have cracked this case wide open in thirty minutes. Ward would spend the rest of his days in San Quentin.
Due to the pressure of Ward’s impending trial Beaver turned to drugs to escape. Kinky Friedman chronicled that sad result in his great song “Somethin’s Wrong with the Beaver” which describes the fateful morning that June went to get Beaver ready for school. Ponder these words: “She climbed the stairs that morning/ Found him rather pale/ His eyes they were the color/ Of half-drunk ginger ale/ Faithful as a Magnavox/ Hung up on a song/ She cried down to the breakfast nook/ Ward? There’s something wrong/ Somethings wrong with the Beaver/ The Beaver I believer is gone/ Beaver was a dreamer/ Never got it right/ Died in living color/ Lived in black and white. “
So, what have we learned today? Sadly, once again nothing. I apologize for wasting your time.