For Pete's Sake
Lily of the West

This will make a ‘lotta’ more sense if you’ve seen the pilot episode.

During that very first episode, “A Rose For Lotta”, the Cartwrights weren’t yet the people we came to love later on. Not quite, anyways…..


Ben Cartwright let his gaze travel across the shimmering expanse of lake and forest. “Look at it, Adam! Feast thine eyes on a sight that approacheth heaven itself!”

“You been a lot of places and you seen a lot of things, Pa, but you never seen or been to heaven.”

“Well, maybe I never been to heaven, and maybe I’m never gonna get the chance, but heaven is gonna have to go some to beat the thousand square miles of the Ponderosa.”

“But Pa”, came a frantic, high-pitched voice from behind them, “why d’ya say you ain’t never gonna go to heaven? You done anything unproper or unseemly-like?”

Ben and his eldest son turned slowly in their saddles to be reminded of the presence of the youngest member of their clan, 13-year old Pete, who had caught up with them on his fat little pony. His freckled face was screwed up in pain at the news of his father’s fall from grace.

“Look, son, you got it all wrong again. The good Lord knows I’m a sinner, but I do hope…”

“But I don’t want you to go to hell, Pa!” Pete wailed and began to cry.

“For Pete’s sake”, Adam snapped, and then caught himself. “All right, sorry Pete. Look, why don’t you ride back home to the ranch and…”

“STOP”, yelled Lloyd Paulson, senior film editor and undisputed king of the cutting room, and Jack Millham, his young assistant, hit the button on the projector and froze the screen cowboy in mid-sentence.

Lloyd planted himself in front of the flickering screen and rubbed his grizzled chin. “Something ain’t quite right about this scene. What do you think?”

Jack was always flattered when this master with thirty years experience in the high art of film editing asked his opinion. “Strange way to start out a cowboy show, all that talk about heaven. And did he say ‘approaches’ or ‘approacheth’?”

Lloyd shrugged. “Who knows, he’s Canadian. But that ain’t what I mean. Something else is wrong. Go ahead and mark the scene, we’ll come back to it later.”

Jack stuck a slip of colored tape on the offending section of the film reel, and hit the ‘play’ button.

“If you weren’t my brother, Adam, I’d kill you for that!”

“Any time you’re ready, Little Joe, you can just forget all about us being kin.”

“You know, that’ll be easy! ‘Cause I’ve never been able to see myself being kin to anything whelped out of a thin-nosed, blue-blooded Boston Yankee!”

That was too much for Adam. He drew back his fist, ready to deliver a brutal round house punch to Joe’s face, when their baby brother Pete’s nasal voice interrupted from the door.

“Little Joe, could you show me again how to tie these?” They turned their faces to see a bare-footed Pete standing in the doorway, his new Sunday shoes in hand.

Joe rolled his eyes in exasperation. “Oh, for Pete’s sake…ah, sorry, Pete. But can’t you see we’re busy? Ain’t you about old enough to know how to tie your shoes?”

“But Joe, I done wore boots all my life! How’d I know?”

“You’d know because you’re a Cartwright, that’s why.” Adam grouched. “I tied my own shoes when I was two years old. When I had any.  Now buzz off, we’re busy.” He turned his face back to Joe and landed his interrupted punch soundly on his brother’s jaw. Joe and his epee went flying across the room.

“STOP”, Lloyd called out and shook his head. “This scene doesn’t work either. Needs cutting. Can’t quite say what’s wrong with it, though. Drives me nuts.”

“The epee?” ventured Jack.

“No, I like that, nice touch.”

“How about those sideburns? Wish we could cut those.”

“Very funny, Jack, but not helpful. Nope, it’s something about those sons.”

“Well, for once, they’re not very nice, right? Little rough around the edges? I mean, all that gun-toting and bible-quoting and insulting each other’s mothers and busting each other’s heads in...”

“Yeah, but it’s a cowboy show, people expect that sort of thing. Lets just watch the rest of it, I have a hunch developing.”

Ben and his two oldest sons busted through the door of the restaurant to find Little Joe and Lotta Crabtree enjoying a tight little private waltz.

“You! You scamp!” Ben hollered, “Is this what you’ve been doing all night?”

“All night, Pa? I…I thought I was just getting started.”

“It’s a great pleasure, Mr. Cartwright.” Lotta made a pretty little curtsy towards Joe and gave him her hand to kiss.

Ben wasn’t impressed. “OUT! Out, you little rapscallion, before I skin you alive.”

He sent his second-youngest out the door with a hearty clap on the seat and nodded to Hoss and Adam to follow. But his eldest was staring at Lotta with that burning look on his face. Encouraged by a friendly nudge from Hoss, he moved suavely within kissing range. While Ben and Hoss slipped quietly out the door, Adam and Lotta found each other's lips and hungrily renewed their acquaintance.

“Adam! Hey Adam!” came an excited whisper from the doorway. “When you’re done, can I try her out, too?”

Adam felt a surge of blood rise to his head, and it was perhaps a fortune that he had no time to react before a startled little yelp informed him that Hoss had returned and grabbed the intruder by the collar.

“Now listen, you little mite, you stay outta Ol’ Adam’s affairs afore he gits so mad he splits you in half.”

“But Adam said he don’t cotton to her, male or female. Well, she’s female all right, and he’s cottonin’ just fine, ain’t he? And Joe said he got to kiss her, too! How come I’m the only one who never …”

“Aah, fer Pete’s sake, will you shut up already! I didn’t kiss her neither. Doggonnit, there I done said it agin. Sorry, kid. Now let’s git you outta here, or Adam’ll yell at you. You know how you get a nosebleed every time Adam yells at you.”

With an apologetic nod towards Adam, Hoss dragged his squirming youngest brother out the door. Adam sighed, shrugged, smiled at the lady in his arms and finished what he had started.

“All-righty, stop.” Lloyd said when the credits rolled down the screen. He rolled his head and stretched the kinks out of his back, and then turned around to grin triumphantly at his assistant. “Jack, my boy, I think I got it now. I know just what this show needs. A little cut here and there, and it’ll be perfect.”

“That’s great, Lloyd. You’re a master, I’ve always said it.”

“Don’t I know it, Jack.”

Lloyd reached into his desk drawer to produce the tools of his trade: his big scissors and the little silver box, the one where he kept his favorite trophies of thirty years of film cutting, which Jack knew included such gems as Marshall Dillon’s faithful French poodle, Humphrey Bogart’s step dancing scene from ‘Casablanca’, or that ill-conceived moment from ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’, when Errol Flynn tried on Olivia de Havilland’s dress, the one with all the tiny blue flowers, and ended up looking a lot prettier in it than she had.

Lloyd snipped the great scissors in the air and grinned wickedly. “Ready to make television history, my boy?”

Note: The quoted parts at the beginning of each 'film' section are from A Rose for Lotta, which was written by D. Dortort. I take sole responsibility for Pete.

Note:  I obviously know zilch about film editing, but I always imagined a grizzled old guy named Lloyd with a big rusty pair of scissors.

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