Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Metro history: Comedic traffic solutions of Sen. Beauregard Claghorn

November 23, 2011 - 03:32 PM
Text size Decrease Increase
The bellowing senator of the South. (Photo: LIFE magazine)

More than 60 years ago, the nation created a popular character known as Senator Beauregard Claghorn, a parody of the unrepentant Southerner from South Carolina whose bluster and bark amused audiences all across America. You can thank The Fred Allen Show and the acting of Kenny Delmar for the fake senator's rambling bits and humor. He was a radio hit in the 1940s, and his drawl swept the nation.

Take Senator Claghorn's perfect Thanksgiving dinner, for instance, according to an issue of LIFE in 1946: "Ah ate only the part of the turkey that was facin' south ... when ah eat crackers in bed, ah only eat Georgia crackers ... Ah never eat applesauce. In among them apples there might be a Northern spy!" The only train he rides is the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. See a sampling of the character in this video here:

The absurd character, obsessed with the Mason Dixon and the joy of a good Southern drawl, made for an entertaining Washingtonian to the people of the mid-1940s. He was entirely over the top, anachronistic, and a spot-on satire. 

Claghorn, as it turns out, had his own set of traffic solutions for our gridlock-beset capital city of Washington, D.C.

In its 1946 profile of the comedy voice that overwhelmed the nation, LIFE magazine featured several bits of dialogue between Allen and Claghorn. Here, consider the senator's views on our traffic situation: 

ALLEN: Look, Senator, how are traffic conditions in Washington?

CLAGHORN: We're investigatin'. Congressman Coffee is boilin'.

ALLEN: Well, I...

CLAGHORN: Coffee's boilin'. That's a joke, son!

ALLEN: I know...

CLAGHORN: You keep missin' 'em, son.

ALLEN: Senator, the streets are filled with cars. What is the solution of the nation's traffic problem?

CLAGHORN: I say one-way traffic.

ALLEN: One-way traffic?

CLAGHORN: Mondays all traffic moves only to the east. Tuesdays all traffic moves only to the west. Wednesdays east, Thursdays west...

ALLEN: Now, wait a minute, Senator. What about the north and south?

CLAGHORN: Son, that was settled by the Civil War!

Senator Claghorn ... a traffic genius from a different era. Read more about this bizarre, hilarious, and entirely outrageous character from Washington entertainment history in the March 18, 1946 issue of LIFE. "It is safe to say that at no time in history has there been another senator whose every word was heard by so many people," LIFE declared. "He is unquestionably the most quoted man in the nation. His name is Senator Beauregard Claghorn."

Read more pieces of Metro history here.

Read More:

No comments

Post a Comment

By posting comments to content found on WJLA, you agree to the terms of service.