Back in the pre-superhighway days a New Jersey commute from Morris to Hudson County was a grueling experience. Most mornings I arrived at work feeling I’d already suffered through a day’s worth of angst.
Driving home in the evening would have been equally painful if it weren’t for my buddies, Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding, who entertained me on my car radio with their zany skits and hilarious commercials for imaginary products. They were great angst-easers for homebound drivers back then with their large cast of whimsical characters, all played by the two master comics.
In the middle of one enormous westbound jam in Orange, we inched along as frustrated drivers honked and shouted profanely out of their windows. Conditions were worsening. Some cars were overheating or running out of gas.
All the while I was getting weird looks from angry drivers as I sat in my old Chevy laughing raucously as Bob and Ray enthusiastically read their fake commercial for the Monongahela Metal Foundry, “Makers of extra shiny steel ingots with the housewife in mind.” Then there was “The Croftweiler Industrial Cartel, makers of all sorts of stuff,” and “Einbeinder Flypaper, the brand you’ve gradually grown to trust over three generations.” (Younger readers will have to Google ‘flypaper’.)
I remember Bob and Ray’s airing of a ficticious children’s Christmas party in their studio. At one point during the inevitable loud chaos, Ray admitted to Bob that he had lost touch with reality. (So was I, driving under the influence of their humor.) In the midst of the turmoil, a boy (Bob) asked Ray, “Please, Sir, what’s the difference between a martini and a Gibson?”
Ray scolded the boy. “Sonny, why are you asking that kind of question at a children’s Christmas party?” But the boy insisted. “Okay,” Ray gave in, “A martini has an olive and a Gibson has an onion. Now go find Santa, for goodness sake! ” The boy thanked him and shouted to his friends at the party, “Hey guys, I just checked, these are martinis we’re drinking !”
Bob and Ray were experts at spoofing popular radio and TV shows and ads back then. There was “Lawrence Fechtenberger, Interstellar Officer Candidate” and “Mr. Science” sponsored by the “Philanthropic Council to Make Things Nicer.” Mr. Science’s lab demos always ended in unexpected loud explosions.”
Florida real estate sales were big then as Bob and Ray promoted the imaginary lots at “Sun-Drenched Acres” which were “almost ready for new residents, lacking only running water, telephone lines and means of access.” Prospective buyers were promised the opportunity to shoot alligators from their back porches and, after seasonal rainfalls, convenient fishing from their attics.”
One evening, after I’d arrived home, my wife asked, ” Why did you spend ten minutes in the driveway after you pulled in?”
“I had to hear the end of award-seeking reporter Wally Ballou’s very first remote traffic report,” I said.
“Do Bob and Ray have a helicopter now?”
“No, they can’t afford one. Wally is reporting from a hot air balloon. His coverage area varies with the prevailing winds. Today, he reported a very bad tie up in downtown Beemerville.”
“Where is Beemerville?”
“Wally’s not sure, exactly.”
In the middle of an enormous westbound jam in Orange, N.J.