1947-09-18 The Tobacco Pouch

Tobacco Pouch is another example of how Alonzo Deen Cole created eccentric characters as key elements of plotlines, making the Casey series entertaining to a broad audience of listeners. The show was its best when it did not take itself too seriously. The combination of quirky characters and improbable events did not always work, but it gave the series a lighthearted comic book style that was well executed during the Anchor-Hocking run. This may not be a top episode, but is definitely much better than average and a good example of the multiple elements of plot, dialogue, characters, humor, and paradox that coalesced to create the program's general appeal.

ADC continuity notes...
Ann has a reluctant Casey in tow on a shopping tour in a large department store. The lensman takes a new lease on life when he spots a little man, carrying a big umbrella, lift a necklace from a costume-jewelry counter. Casey watches the little man, sees him approach a man whose right arm is in a sling and pick the man's pocket. The little man slips away; Casey tips off the pickpocket victim and chases after the culprit. When Casey catches up with the little man, he finds the big umbrella contains all sorts of store merchandise and a tobacco pouch -- the property of Mr. Arm-in-Sling. Casey and the store detective lock the shoplifter into a small room, and Casey goes to return the tobacco to Arm-in-sling. He's nowhere to be found! Then Casey is berated by the store manager. The little shoplifter, he says, is Wilmer Karig, a well-to-do kleptomaniac whose family has arranged to pay the store for whatever has been lifted. They return to the room where Karig is waiting and find the door unlocked and Karig unconscious, his pockets turned inside out. They restore him, and he tells them that Arm-in-Sling, now without the sling, was the attacker. Shots are heard and they rush out to find Ann-in-Sling shot to death. Casey opens the tobacco pouch. It contains only a hotel-room key. Casey follows the trail indicated by the key and runs into a suspense-filled maze of robbery, betrayal, intrigue and murder. Though his life is in serious jeopardy, Casey clings fast to the trail until he solves the mystery of the tobacco pouch.

On the surface, this might be considered silly show with the odd character “Wilmer Karig.” Cole used this system often, as mentioned earlier. This method of plot creation may be why the program faltered in later years as listeners tired of the format and Cole likely ran out of ideas. A good example of a really bad episode in this regard is one from the Philip Morris run, Thunderbolt (1949-11-10), where the goofy character believed he was Thor, the god of thunder. Thankfully, there are many good episodes to go before I have to work up the courage to dissect that mess. I can't say I'm looking forward to that one.

1:45 Casey meets Mr. Flack and Ann. Ben Flack is a mobster who runs criminal activities across the river in what sounds like New Jersey. Casey's criminal contacts give him insights the police don't really have. This one is very early in the episode, and that's a clue that it will be a theme throughout the program in some way. Here we go again… the statements imply that Casey takes place in Manhattan, at least this episode.

2:15 Beer is 15 cents at the Blue Note, less than $2. It seems the beer Ethelbert had on tap may not have been the best.

3:25 Ann drags Casey shopping… the last time they went shopping it was for Christmas, and there was a pickpocket in that episode, too. There will be one here in less than two minutes. Why else would Cole send Casey into a department store?

4:43 Casey finds a shoplifter. And then 5:30 the same person finds a pickpocket! But it’s not… there is a regular shopper who is a kleptomaniac. His thefts are covered by his family in what is later referred to as a "shoplifter's charge account."

9:07 The tobacco pouch is what was picked out of the pocket – we later learn it had a hotel key in it, critical to the story.

9:46 Karig is found beaten but becomes quickly returns to consciousness and describes the attack on him. In radio, you must become conscious quickly so as not to eat into sponsor advertising time.

10:45 The pouch was taken by Karig to “solve a mystery” – but what mystery was that? I don’t know if that’s ever really clear, but it’s the kind of self-absorbed self-important claim that the delusional Karig would make. Karig is able to give a detail description of the events at the store.

Believe it... or Not! The timeline is all wrong, but this is too funny! The key is for a room at the "Ben Dixon Hotel"… Ben Dixon became a well-known jazz drummer but not yet: he was only 13 at the time of this broadcast. Years later, when his career grew, he became a recording artist for... BLUE NOTE RECORDS! Believe it... or Not! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Dixon_(musician)
14:10 Casey realizes that “Mr. Arm-in-Sling” was dressed that way to be conspicuous to someone looking for him but did not know what he looked like. With “Mr. Arm-in-Sling” dead, Casey thinks that if he dressed the same way, he could pretend to be that person and get an exclusive scoop. But at this stage of the story, no one knows what that scoop will be.

15:45 The ruse works. Mandel Kramer plays a gangster lawyer named Lockert, and he lets Casey into his room. Kramer is uncredited in the broadcast. He was a busy radio actor, but did not have a high profile other than as Peters on Counterspy and was often in Gangbusters, also produced by Phillips H. Lord. Fourteen years later, Kramer would become the second "Johnny Dollar" of its New York broadcasts, and be the last Dollar of the series.

16:35 Ben Flack is getting the double-cross from his own lawyer who has a contract on him, but Casey does not realize it yet. He offers him $2,000 first payment and $3,000 when the job is done. That’s about $25,000 and $35,000 – $60,000 combined – in today’s dollars.

18:00 They’re still having problems with the new production method. Ann calls Logan to tell him Casey is missing. Lenrow’s microphone is not set properly for the telephone filter at first, but they do fix it as the conversation is in process.

19:45 Casey realizes that Lockert is Ben Flack’s own lawyer! Despite Flack's mob leadership, Casey has some odd loyalty to him.

20:07 Kerig, who had followed Casey, conducts a ruse by throwing a rock through the boathouse window, then claims to be the police and they have the building surrounded. Since they're in the boathouse and can't see him, Lockert and Red fall for it and surrender.

22:23 Flack enters the scene. 22:55 the actor has a brief muff of a line, continues without a problem.

24:10 Karig saves the day by using the concealed gun he took off Red but kept hidden on his person in case he needed it. How delusional was Karig, really, to make such a cunning move? Cole's strange characters are eccentric when you first meet them but paradoxically insightful despite the craziness by the end of the story.

27:15 Karig’s Robin Hood act brings the episode to a full circle conclusion. Casey was lamenting to Ethelbert that he lost his watch. Ethelbert says someone walked up to him in the street, felt sorry for him, and gave him a watch… and it turns out to be Casey’s! Karig obviously relieved Casey of his very own watch, and may have given it to Ethelbert to avenge Casey's “stealing his mystery.”

Casey 47-09-18 203 The Tobacco Pouch.mp3
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1947-09-18 Cincinnati OH Enquirer
This plot teaser is inaccurate. Oh well!
Casey, Crime Photographer - Page 4 1947-154

1947-09-18 Mason City IA Globe-Gazette
Casey, Crime Photographer - Page 4 1947-155