Jim Nabors’ death was announced today. It immediately made me think of my sister Cath and the phrase “Hooy-Hoo!”.
Why? Because, during the days when Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. was a popular TV show, Cath persisted in trying to imitate Nabor’s famous depiction of the inept but good-natured country bumpkin with the astonishing singing voice who never failed to irritate the crap out of the long-suffering, by-the-book, buzz-cut Marine Sergeant Carter. Cath thrilled at the idiocy of the Gomer Pyle character, and her favorite episode illustrating Pyle’s intrinsic silliness came when Pyle was sent on some kind of bogus mission where he donned camouflage gear and was told that the password when he returned from the mission was “Hooty-Hoo!” Of course, for all of Pyle’s stumblebum incompetence, he somehow completed the mission and showed up in front of an amazed Sergeant Carter, crowing “Hooty-Hoo!” For weeks and months afterward, Cath practiced that appalling “Hooty Hoo!”
It’s hard to imagine, now, that there was ever a network TV show like Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., and it’s even harder to believe that it was broadcast during the peak years of the Vietnam War. But for all of the silliness and out-of-whack nature of the show, Jim Nabors’ portrayal of the country bumpkin made an impression on one young girl in one suburban house in Ohio.
R.I.P., Jim Nabors.