Original Air Date: 1/24/1958
Video Link: https://dai.ly/x4orxad
Guest Star: Helen Parrish
Notable Facts : First appearance of Lumpy Rutherford
Hello again readers, family and friends. The episode being reviewed today, “Lumpy Rutherford” treats us to the first appearance of Lumpy. He would later become a “friend” to Wally and appear alongside Eddie Haskell in several episodes. The dynamic between Lumpy and his father, Fred Rutherford, was always fun to see. In this episode, we get a very nasty version of Lumpy Rutherford. He is a cruel bully to Wally and Beaver.
Classic TV is full of plotlines that involve the stars of the show suffering the cruelty of a bully. However, this episode of LITB treated us to another dynamic. The brief glimpse into Lumpy’s home life provides no justification for his terrible ways. His mother seems like a sweet and reasonable woman. His father, while somewhat aloof, doesn’t seem domineering or cruel. At one point during the story, Mr. Rutherford claims that Clarence (aka Lumpy) has a personality that just draws others in. Fred Rutherford is a bit pompous but certainly not intimidating. When Lumpy encounters him briefly after taunting the Cleaver boys, he is timid and acts very obedient towards the kindly Fred. Readers, your thoughts on the father and son relationship between Fred and Clarence are most welcome.
Upon learning the boys have encountered a bully, Ward offers to intervene. Not wanting to look weak amongst their peers, the boys decline. Ward then reminisces about his own trial with one and the prank he played on the boy. Wally and Beaver are soon mimicking Ward’s childhood prank as they have spread barrel hoops across the Rutherford’s driveway. As they yell taunts at the house to summon Lumpy, only Fred and his wife hear them. In the episode’s LOL moment, the boys yell “Hey, Meathead! Meathead!”, Mrs. Rutherford says, “Might be for you dear.”
Mrs. Rutherford was played by the stunning beauty Helen Parrish. She had been an actress since age 4 and was a teen star in a few b-movies. Sadly, this would be her only appearance as Mrs. Rutherford. She would appear only one more time in front of the camera before passing away from cancer in 1959.
The boys’ prank goes horribly wrong as Fred exits the house and falls victim to barrel hoops to the shins. The boys scamper away and Beaver loses his hat in the process. That same night as they fear the police will arrive any moment, the Rutherfords arrive instead. Totally oblivious that the Cleaver boys were responsible for Fred’s misery, they seek an enjoyable evening with Ward and June. Fred bolsters the events earlier that night to include a gang attacking him and leaving behind an incriminating hat. Ward suggests he go to the police with the evidence. After Fred shares what happened, the jig is up. Ward discusses briefly with the boys what happened and they are willing to go downstairs and confess their wrongdoing. Instead, Ward says he will take care of matters. As I watched this scene, I thought it was wonderful to see a father taking control and being the man of the house. A sitcom today would have had a dopey dad trying to get the hat from the Rutherfords on the sly and weasel his way out of the predicament.
As the Rutherfords leave for the night, all is well with Ward and Fred. Fred is disappointed in his darling boy and unaware he was called Lumpy. He assures Ward the matter will be addressed. However, like so many other sitcoms of yesteryear we never see the bully get his due. We also don’t see him as best pals with his victim by the story’s end. There is a powerfully touching scene to close out the episode. Beaver comes downstairs and he and his father discuss bullies. Ward shares with Beaver that bullies will always be among us and we just have to find a way to live alongside them and get along. Beaver asks about the best way to beat a bully. Ward gives the wonderful reply that the best thing we can do is never be anything like them.
This episode holds a special place in my memory as I recall watching it the same day I had encountered a jerk of a kid at the park. While he did not target me like Lumpy did the boys, his obnoxious, mean and boastful nature just irked me. I still remember Ward’s advice being comforting when I watched this episode that afternoon. Your own thoughts on this episode are most welcome! We will review the actor who played Lumpy, Frank Bank, in a future blog. See you next time!