The Herald, Sharon, Pa.


April 15, 2013

'Gunsmoke' revisited: Festus, Chester, Dillon


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This episode featured Festus Haggen as Marshal Matt Dillon’s jailhouse helper. Festus, as many of my generation may recall, succeeded Chester B. Goode, Dennis Weaver’s character who had played the marshal’s right-hand man for the first several years of the show’s 20-year run.

My grandfather always seemed to know what was coming in the show, whether it be an ambush outside of Dodge or some playful interaction between Dillon and Miss Kitty, the red-headed proprietor of the town saloon.

For that hour last Tuesday, it was a time warp of nearly 50 years. It recalled a simpler time in all of our lives, and a realization that all of the principle “Gunsmoke” characters have died, some decades ago.

As I peeked out the window and saw some children walking across the street, I wondered if they will have a “Gunsmoke” experience to remember from their childhood? If they do, what will it be?

Watching westerns with my grandfather meant that I could relate to actors like James Arness, John Wayne and Gary Cooper and the way they handled themselves? I wondered who are their Hollywood replacements for kids today?

But all was lost on Brady. Snoring with his big head on my lap and an occasional grunt and groan, similar to my grandfather, he could have cared less.

Ills and chills aside, it was a good afternoon.

Who could forget the Silver Grille?

My recent column contained a list of businesses from Downtown Sharon that were thriving in the early 1970s but were eventually displaced, relocated or demolished during the city’s urban renewal efforts.

As I was leafing through a vintage City Directory of the West State Street, South Main Avenue and South Water Avenue areas, I paused when I came to the Silver Grille. I stopped so long and reflected so much that I omitted it from the story.

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