This scene perfectly encapsulates what makes Petticoat Junction special

It's about a train, but also, it's about everything.

When Petticoat Junction premiered, people didn't understand what else it could bring to the table. After all, the series' creator, Paul Henning, had already delivered America The Beverly Hillbillies. How different could another show be if it was also set in rural America? A lot of viewers felt they already had everything they wanted from it in the earlier series. 

Luckily for the residents of Hooterville, Petticoat Junction got a chance to shine, and it pretty quickly proved it deserved a place on TV. 

Junction was instantly more sophisticated than Hillbillies. Most importantly, it showed the rest of the country that not all country folk sounded like Jed Clampett. Not everybody from rural America is a hillbilly. In addition to these cultural truths, Petticoat Junction brought a genuine small-town warmth to the small screen. Henning loved his hometown of Independence, Missouri, and that affection shines through the characters on his show.

In Petticoat Junction's second episode, Bea Benaderet's character delivers a monologue that brilliantly sums up what the show is all about. While it may not have been intended as such, the speech ends up being Junction's entire thesis statement in one monologue:

"Folks in this valley depend on that train. It hauls the farmers' crops to market, takes their children to school, and brings their supplies from town. And on Sunday it makes a special trip just to take folks to church.

"When my three babies were born who came screamin' through the night, bringing the doctor to my side? The Hooterville Cannonball. Her whistle speaks a language we all understand. 

"To the children, it's a lullaby. To young folks a song of love and to the old it's a hymn of comfort. Folks in this valley haven't got much money, but as long as that little train runs, they'll never be poor."

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6 Comments

MrsPhilHarris 7 months ago
I love to hear a train whistle at night.
Runeshaper 7 months ago
That is a very powerful monologue!
Pacificsun 7 months ago
Nice story, and there is much truth in what's described.

Only problem is, the reference is all in quotes. And even if the author (alone) of the script for that particular episode is responsible (which I doubt). Just as I doubt Bea Benaderet (the actress) originated it. The "monologue" which is quoted needs to be credited in this article.

I'm guessing it was Paul Henning who suggested the idea, and the feelings behind it. But it's Writers and Story Editors who (help) make the characters come alive. (MeTV) one way to check is to check the opening titles under "Written" and "Directed By."

As a side note re: before the Guild changed it, all credits landed at the end of an episode. Somebody must've figured out, who sticks around to notice while viewers are busy taking a break. Until the Guild fought for it's proper recognition. And all Series (no matter the date) updated the Opening Credits. And rightfully so, because those two crafts are key to making a Series worthwhile, watching. In fact, after a while a viewer will notice the signature style of many Directors being used, repeatedly. Example: very evident in Mannix.
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