A whimsical look at life growing up in the small town of Waldron, Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, plus occasional observations from the present. Want to start at the very beginning? Click HERE.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hey Janet, It's Thedy Sue Hill

 It was a particular episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour that haunted us.  This particular episode was called The Jar.  Inside "the jar" was some indeterminate thing, the only somewhat recognizable part being what looked a great deal like an eye.  In the show, a country bumpkin named Charlie Hill (played by Pat Buttram, Mr. Haney from Green Acres) goes to a carnival and is so intrigued by this side show exhibit that he buys it and takes it home. 

Waiting at home for hapless Charlie is his beautiful wife, Thedy Sue Hill. Thedy Sue is somewhat wrapped up in herself, and loves her hair ribbon embossed with her name. She is also unfaithful to Charlie, and never misses an opportunity to ridicule him. When she sees the mysterious glob in the jar and learns that he paid money for it, she becomes angry at Charlie's stupidity.

 Charlie's neighbors, however, are fascinated by the jar.  Everyone who looks at it sees something different.  Some see horror, while others see beauty.  Every night, a crowd of people come to see the jar, which makes Charlie feel like a big man, but makes Thedy Sue jealous.  She is furious that they are paying attention to Charlie and not her.  So, in a fit of anger, she destroys the contents of the jar.  Charlie, however, has gotten used to being the center of attention, and is not happy that Thedy Sue has destroyed his claim to fame.

So, the next night, when everyone is over to look at the jar, a little girl is staring at the contents and comments on the pretty ribbon that appears to be part of the mysterious glob.  At that point, to everyone's complete horror, they discover that inside the jar now is THE HEAD OF THEDY SUE HILL!!!

This episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour aired on February 14, 1964.  You can watch it here on Hulu.  I highly recommend it if you have an hour to spare; it's quite good.  However, it scared the bejeebers out of Janet and me.  Her, I think, possibly more than me.  I guess it was the eye thing that stared out of the jar that got us.  In light of that, my brothers, never ones to miss an opportunity, discovered that whenever the famous CBS "eye" logo came on the screen, they could shout "Thedy Sue Hill!" and Janet would collapse onto the floor in a fit of fear and anger, much to the amusement of those watching.  Since our only TV channel, Channel 5, showed a lot of CBS programs, a great portion of the year of 1964 was spent making Janet freak out over the CBS eye. 

Another Channel 5 favorite was The Twilight Zone.  I still love watching that show today; I believe that in terms of overall quality, it was possibly the most well-written television show ever.  That was largely due to the chain-smoking host and writer, Rod Serling.  The beauty of The Twilight Zone was that in every episode, there was always a twist at the end that you didn't see coming.  It also featured some social commentary interwoven into the plot.  A great example of this is the episode called The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, in which the invading aliens stand back and watch as a neighborhood destroys itself due to fear and prejudice.  And the episode called The Hitchhiker literally sends chills down my spine every time I watch it.

But, to temper the truly scary stuff, networks also had a little fun with our fear.  The Munsters and The Addams Family both featured mildly scary families who were comically oblivious to their differences with the rest of us.  You could also go down to Parsley's and buy plastic models of monsters to put together just like the model cars that my brothers loved to assemble, which made them seem a little less scary.  After all, if it came from Parsley's, it couldn't be anything bad!


  1. I remember Pat Buttram as a pretty good story teller in his own right.

  2. This is my all time favorite episode!! When I was about 10 or 11 I created my own "Jar". I took my older sister's 3ft tall doll, tapes, and other junk (ok the doll was a collector item, oops) and cut everything up and shove it all into the a large pickle jar with food coloring, etc! My middle name is Sue so I opted to NOT name it after me but I did put my sisters name on it. HAHAHA. To this day in 2013 she still never misses an opportunity to remind me and anyone who will listen about what I did to her doll! And I still laugh hysterically. And who says that kids are NOT influenced by television?

    1. That's a great story! I wish I'd thought of making my own "Jar;" it would have greatly added to the torment my sister experienced!