And Buz Murdock does geneology research at Pratt Library!
“The Mud Nest”
Route 66: Season 2, Episode 7
November 10, 1961
An encounter with a rural Maryland family bearing a striking resemblance to him leads Buz (George Maharis) to Baltimore where, with the help of a police detective, he searches for the woman who might be his mother.
By Tom Warner (Baltimore Or Less)
Yesterday, a patron stopped in the Sights & Sounds Department to admire the “sights and sounds” of the Enoch Pratt Central Library. Looking around, he commented, “Yep, the guys from Route 66 were in here, they were right over there.” Confused by his reference to a television show that aired some 50 plus years ago as if it was just yesterday, I responded with typical aplomb, “Huh???”
“You know that show that had the Adam-12 guy, Route 66?” he continued. “Oh, Marty Milner?” I replied. “Yeah, that’s him. And the other guy with the dark hair, Buz,” he added. “They were here, right in the library, because Buz was looking for his birth mother.” (Mental note: major props to Enoch Pratt’s geneological resources from Classic TV Land!)
Ah yes, that would be Tod Stiles and Buz Murdock, played by Marty Milner and George Maharis, respectively. From 1960-1964, these two young, restless road warriors traveled across America (though rarely on Route 66) in their sporty Chevrolet Corvette on CBS’ popular Friday night drama series. One of the most appealing aspects of the show – besides its outstanding writing, groovy Nelson Riddle theme song, and a stellar cast of guest stars (many of whom – like William Shatner, Ed Asner, Julie Newmar, Lee Marvin, and future Adam-12 co-star Kent McCord – would go on to later fame and acclaim) – was that it was filmed entirely on location, serving as a sort of dramatic travelogue throughout the U.S. at a time when the nation was much more provincial than today’s homogenized landscape with a Starbucks or Denny’s in every town.
Apparently, Me TV had recently aired “The Mud Nest” episode of Route 66, which opens in the fictional “nowhere bend in the road” hicktown “Hester” (based on the very real town of Hess, MD) and the nearby Sunnybrook Farms (where Milner and Maharis run out of gas a block south of the intersection of Jarretsville Pike and Merryman’s Mill Road) before heading to Charm City.
While in the sticks, orphan Buz learns that he’s related to the Colby clan (with George Maharais’s real-life siblings – brothers Mark and Hank and sister Cleopatra – making cameo appearances), and meets a cantakerous relation, Grandpa Colby, who’s played by Lon Chaney, Jr. Colby gives Buz a picture of his alleged birth mother, Dorothea, whom Buz never knew.
In Baltimore, the boys drive past the Washington Monument, the Baltimore Sun building (featuring a scene with Evening Sun reporter Phil Evans), The Block (including the Circus Bar, where the boys take in a show and Buz gets some vital info from a bar floozie)…
…up N. Charles Street (where Buz meets Lt. Tagelar, a Missing Persons detective played by Ed Asner, at the old Pine Street police station)…
…and then on to the Enoch Pratt Central Library.
At the library, Tod and Buzz seek evidence that Buz’s mom existed by checking City Directories in the mezzanine of what is now the Sights & Sounds Department.
After concluding their library research, Buz and Tod head to the last known address of Buz’s alleged mother Dorothea Colby, a vacant lot on Ensor Street…
…then head over to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where Buz has an emotional encounter with nurse Dorothea Colby, who he believes may be his mother. Interestingly, Dorothea Colby is played by veteran actress Betty Field, whose most acclaimed film role was as Mae in Of Mice and Men (1939), where she played opposite none other than Grandpa Colby, Lon Chaney, Jr.!
For a guide to all the Baltimore pitstops in this episode, check out Doug Dawson’s excellent photos and commentary at www.ohio66.com, as well as Frederick N. Rasmussen’s “Heading back down Route 66” Baltimore Sun article (June 3, 2012).
According to the Sun‘s Rasmussen, the following week’s episode, “A Bridge Across Five Days” (Season 2, Episode 8, November 17, 1961), finds the boys still in Baltimore, temporarily working as welders at the Bethlehem Steel Key Highway shipyard. The plot involves guest star Nina Foch playing the role of Lillian Aldrich, a former mental patient at Spring Grove State Hospital now working as a clerk at the shipyard. Lillian becomes friendly with the boys, but after an altercation with Buz sets her off, a hysterical Lillian moves into a boarding house for the mentally ill on Frederick Road and Paradise Avenue in Catonsville. The episode was directed by Richard Donner, who would go on to direct such Hollywood hits as Superman, The Goonies, and Lethal Weapon, not to mention the indie cult film Inside Moves (a personal fave), featuring a script by Barry Levinson.
For a guide to all the locations in the “A Bridge Across Five Days” episode, once again check out Doug Dawson’s detailed post at www.ohio66.com.
You can watch the entire “Mud Nest” and “A Bridge Across Five Days” episodes (and all Route 66 episodes, for that matter) at hulu.com (which requires Flash Player 10.1.53.64 or higher) and ovguide.com. They are also available on the Route 66: Season 2 DVD released by Shout! Factory in 2012.