“Just Be Mighty Sure There Are Pickles In The Pickle Jar.”

Prejudice has been around since human beings were created.  Stories have been written about people who have been perceived as “different”, and the social problems they encounter.  Labeling people is both a mental shortcut and protective device.  It is a mental shortcut, because we need not take the trouble to investigate the personality or personalities in question in depth.  Labeling is a protective device, because it shields us from concepts, ideas, beliefs and ways of living that may run counter to our own.  A vivid example of labeling is given in one episode of The Rifleman, a western, which ran from 1958-1963.  The show was ahead of its time, because it featured two episodes starring an African American  before civil rights legislation was passed by President Johnson, and several episodes dealt with prejudicial labeling. How folks are different and the need for tolerance are some of the main themes in The Rifleman.  It was also the first television show to portray a widower and his son as main characters.  It is precisely the interaction between Lucas McCain(Kevin”Chuck” Connors) and Mark McCain(Johnny Crawford) that give the show its special dynamics as the adult world and the child world intermingle and often collide.  However, the interaction is blatantly honest and one displaying mutual respect.  Questions are raised, sifted through, answers arrived at.  In one episode, a saloon girl is called a hussy by some of the girls in Mark’s school.  When Mark asks his dad what a hussy is, Lucas replies:  “A hussy is a worthless woman.  A no account.”  Mark has already met the woman in question and his instinct rebels against this label.  Lucas explains that when folks are different, it’s easier for others to put a label on them rather than to take a closer look.  But Mark retorts:  “But a pickle jar has a label on it.”  And Lucas responds:  “Yes.  Just be mighty sure there are pickles in the pickle jar.”  A gleam comes into Mark’s eyes.

About Robert M. Weiss
From an early age, I've taken great pleasure in reading. Also, I learned to play my 78 player when I was quite young, and enjoyed listening to musicals and classical music. I remember sitting on the floor, and following the text and pictures of record readers, which were popular in the 1940s and 50s. My favorites were the Bozo and Disney albums. I also enjoyed watching the slow spinning of 16s as they spun out tales of adventure. I have always been attracted by rivers, and I love to sit on a boulder with my feet in the water, gazing into the mysteries of swirling currents. I especially like inner tubing on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Since my early youth, I've been interested in collecting minerals, which have taught me about the wonderful possibilities in colors and forms. Sometimes I try to imagine what the ancient Greeks must have felt when they began to discover physical laws in nature. I also remember that I had a special passion for numbers, and used to construct them out of stones. After teaching Russian for several years, I became a writer, interviewer, editor, and translator. I continue to delight in form, and am a problem solver at heart.

3 Responses to “Just Be Mighty Sure There Are Pickles In The Pickle Jar.”

  1. auntyuta says:

    I like this heading to your post. The Rifleman must have been a very interesting show ahead of its time, as you say. I like how you explain that labeling is a mental shortcut and a protective device. I think this subject interested me already as a little girl. I made observations by myself how for instance a saloon girl was depicted by some as ‘worthless’ and others saw in her a totally normal human being. Friends of mine had sublet one room of their apartment to a saloon girl. Some people made snide remarks about this. To my friends she just seemed to be a normal person.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Uta. I didn’t know they had saloon girls in Germany and that some people labeled them as “worthless.” Quite interesting.

  3. lividlips says:

    There was a time in my life when I was quick to judge, and there are moments when I have to refrain currently as well(possibly from my current living location: South beach, miami). However, what if one day you or I become that saloon girl and everyone disregards us as something less than socially correct.

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