Yours Coolly, Sammy Drake

In 1959 Sarah Vaughan musically convinced listeners that her lover was a “Smooth Operator” whose kisses could make toenails curl, thrilling her to the point where she asked for mercy from Mr. Percy and unashamedly admitted “I like it like that.” While Sarah certainly was entitled to her opinion, I suggest a smoother operator can be found in the person of Sammy Drake during the investigation of the “Cui Bono Matter” by Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar in February 1956. Drake, played by Sam Edwards, talked in a slick, rhyming style that predated the Kookie jive-talking craze by two years. Sammy gave every indication that, in a duel of words, he would have knocked the comb-carrying hipster into the alley nearest 77 Sunset Strip.

Even in 1956 listeners could find name rhymes in Delbert Barker’s “No Good, Robin Hood” which contained a number of warnings to any rivals for his girl’s affections, including “Too bad, Galahad” and “Bad Break, Rattlesnake.” Nearly 20 years later Paul Simon named names among the 50 ways to depart from a loved one, including tips for Gus to hop on a bus, Jack to slip out the back, and Lee to drop off the key.

But those happened to be names read off song sheets with musical accompaniment in no particular context. What made Drake’s rhymes in dialogue distinctive is they sounded like spontaneous replies to queries posed by the shrewd insurance investigator. When Johnny Dollar (Bob Bailey) tossed soft curves toward Sammy, the smooth operator of the Sleepy Hollow Roadhouse responded with a handful of catchy responses: “What’s the pitch, Mitch?” “You’re outta luck, Chuck.” “What did you say your name was, Buzz?” “Let’s relax, Max.” “So what comes next, Tex?”

Drake, not the primary suspect in the case, definitely served as the most memorable character in that five-episode mystery involving an accidental shooting which may have been murder. Cui Bono (“Who benefits?”) has an easy answer: anyone who listens to this well-crafted series

And, I might add, anyone who comes in contact with me because I have armed myself with a batch of Drake Takes to fit a variety of situations.

At the farmer’s market: “Hand me a cuke, Luke.”

At the gas station: “I’ve had my fill, Bill.”

At the hat shop: “Let’s see your best lid, Sid.”

On the beach: “Great tan, Nan.”

To an usher at the ballpark: “Where’s this aisle, Lyle?”

To a cabbie: “Here’s the toll, Joel.”

At the yard waste disposal site: “Where goes the crud, Bud?”

To any flagman who waves me down: “What’s the beef, Leif?”

To the constant lane changer: “Quit your swerving, Irving.”

At the racetrack payoff window: “Make with the green, Dean.”

To someone who asks what I am going to do with my winnings: “In the bank, Hank.”

To a snob at a party: “Get off your high horse, Doris.”

To someone leaving the party early: “Where you goin’, Owen?”

To a neighbor with a woeful lawn: “Get some new sod, Tod.”

To an author at a book signing event: “Keen story, Laurie.”

To a postal clerk weighing a parcel: “What’s the freight, Nate?”

To someone wearing a sporty shirt: “Some tartan, Martin.”

At a lunch counter: “Spin me a malt, Walt.”

To a persistent salesman: “Why should I buy it, Wyatt?”

To the cook at a pig roast: “Sever it, Everett.”

To a local near Cave of the Mounds: “Which way’s the hole, Lowell?”

Obviously, those lyrical lines leave me open for stinging retorts such as “You’re a knave, Dave” and “Take a hike, Mike.” Like many of the claimants Johnny Dollar encountered, I am willing to take a chance. It will be worth the risk if just one person tells me “I like it like that, Pat.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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