We know Punta Gordans love our pets and back in 1963 the TV show Route 66 testified to the world how much we love them in an episode titled Shadows of an Afternoon (season 3, episode 30).
It starts with an injured dog
Linc and Tod are house-sitting for Mrs. Lindstrom while she visits her family in Sweden in exchange for taking care of her dachshund Billie Jo, and maintaining the lawn and garden. Billie Jo approaches Linc in the garden, wincing in pain. He sees she has a cut on her stomach and dresses the wound.
That’s when Deputy Sam Harris arrives at the cottage screen door. “Got a complaint … doing bodily injury to a dog.”
Linc “Injuring a dog? That’s crazy.”
Deputy “I’d say so.” Linc is arrested and jailed without bail.
Leona Bowers, a prominent widow from a pioneer family of Punta Gorda has made a serious accusation against Linc. She tells Tod, “In all my years, I have never sent for the police. Not more than five hours ago I stood in my garden and watched your friend take his pruning shears and drive them into the stomach of a small defenseless dog.”
Vietnam veteran Linc is pejoratively referred to as “war hero” by the suspicious authorities who suggest he is like those “war heroes … how they come home and can go crazy right in the middle of a rose garden maybe because the sun is just a little too hot.” Furthermore, his lawyer, “the best lawyer in Charlotte County” warns that “any jury we impanel from the brain-washed citizens of this county could hand you the death sentence.”
The town reacts
- Lock him up and throw away the key
- Protect our pets
- Animals are God’s creatures
Mrs. Bowers enters the local drug store. Another lady offers that her brother-in-law in Gulf Port could come and talk to the city council if they’d like him to. “Same thing happened down there, and he could get death.”
What happened to Billie Jo?
No spoiler here. You’ll have to watch the show! Billie Jo’s final appearance in the episode comes just before the 9-minute mark. She’s in the back window of the sheriff deputy’s vehicle. Modern Punta Gordans commented that today anyone who left a dog in the back window of a car unattended would be arrested!
Having secured temporary jobs, but unable to find lodging, Tod and Linc agree to house-sit for Mrs. Lindstrom while she is out of town in exchange for taking care of her dachshund Billie Jo, and maintaining the lawn and garden. Within four weeks, Linc is arrested for maliciously injuring the dog, based on the accusation of an eccentric, elderly neighbor who claims to have witnessed it. Considered to be one of the best from Season 3, this episode is more of a character study than a crime story. It was filmed on location in Punta Gorda. Supporting cast features Ralph Meeker, veteran screen and stage actress Miriam Hopkins, expressive beauty Kathryn Hays, and extras from the local community.
Locations featured in the show
- 211 Harvey Street
- 328 Goldstein Street
- 412 W. Marion Avenue
- 415 W. Marion Avenue
- City Hall
- County Courthouse
- Punta Gorda Airport
About the show Route 66
Two socially conscious young adventurers explore the US during the turbulent 1960s. Tod Stiles, played by Martin Milner, is the son of a wealthy NY businessman who grew up in privilege. After his father’s death he is left penniless except for his Corvette. In this episode, his traveling partner is Lincoln Case, a US Army veteran looking for purpose after completing his military service. Linc’s role is portrayed by Glenn Corbett.
This is the only fiction TV series shot on location in 40 of the 50 States. Many episodes, like the one we’re reviewing today, were filmed in areas where Route 66 did not travel. Each of the 116 one-hour episodes is a complete story, making the series an anthology which reflected on the intimate personal problems of the characters encountered by the show’s protagonists. This series was known for the sometimes trite storylines offset with existentialist philosophy and often surprisingly profound dialogue. Enjoy the amusing beat-era language, ubiquitous fist fights, and high quality on-location film production.
About U.S. Route 66
Also known as The Mother Road, Main Street of America and Will Rogers Memorial Highway, Route 66 originally started in Chicago, traversed Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and ended in Santa Monica, CA. Designated Route 66 in 1926, it was the primary route taken by ‘Okies’ in the 1930s, fleeing the Dust Bowl environmental and economic disaster. Much of Route 66 was not paved until as late as 1938.
About Miriam Hopkins: Leona Bowers
A true Southern belle, ‘Mims’ came from a wealthy family in Savannah, GA and was Margaret Mitchell’s choice for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. She worked hard at her craft, starting as a chorus girl and then on to musicals, Broadway and eventually signed with Paramount Studios. She portrayed a wide range of authentic characters from rebellious teen in 1930s Fast and Loose to a rape victim in 1933’s film noir The Story of Temple Drake.
She once said, “I will never retire. Put that down and underline it.” True to her statement, as movie roles dried up, she returned to the stage and eventually maintained her career guest starring on television shows like Route 66, The Flying Nun, and The Outer Limits. Her last movie in 1970 was a horror / thriller titled Savage Intruder.
On August 16, 2018, she was honored with a day of her film work during the TCM Summer Under The Stars.
About Kathryn Hays: Judy Kane
Shadows of an Afternoon featured guest star Kathryn Hays. Ms. Hays was a long-time cast member of As The World Turns, playing Kim Hughes in more than 1500 episodes. This natural beauty was a darling of television and appeared in numerous TV series including Bonanza, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Night Gallery, Branded, Marcus Welby M.D., Mannix and Hollywood Squares. She’s probably most remembered for the role of Gem in Star Trek’s episode 63 The Empath. It is said this was DeForest Kelley’s favorite episode of all.
We point out locations featured in this episode of Route 66 on our Haunted History of Punta Gorda Walking Tour. This is the first of a series of posts about Shadows of an Afternoon.