Clocks can evoke many emotional responses in humans. Many of these emotional responses are derived from their artistic beauty, their historic significance, their functionality, or even their mechanical beauty. But there is probably only one clock that was and still is valued for the contentiousness that it created, that clock is the “Shmoo Clock”. Those of us “of a certain age” can fondly remember the introduction of the Shmoo into American life back on August 31, 1948. Shmoos were created by the cartoonist Al Capp who many people thought was not really wrapped to tight. His satirical comments about American life and customs were often the topics of discussion around
many dinner tables, office water coolers and bars of the day. Al Capps cartoon “Lil Abner”, in which Shmoos were introduced, was set in the American South in an area called “Dogpatch”, the denizens of which were fondly, and just as often not so fondly, referred to as “Hillbillies”. The Shmoos themselves were small, rotund creatures shaped not unlike bowling pins: they had no arms, noses or ears, sported a small stubby mustache and loved doing things for humans. In fact they would gladly sacrifice themselves to meet whatever needs the humans they encountered seemed to desire. They could be eaten, they tasted like oysters beefsteak, pork roast, fried chicken or even catfish. They freely gave milk, butter and eggs. They were easy to catch all one needed was a paper bag, flashlight and a stick. The
flashlight stunned them, the stick whacked them and the paper bag was used to carry them home for eating. They reprodu
ced asexually and were more prolific than rabbits. But it was in their insatiable desire to provide humans with any and all things they desired that created the controversy referred to earlier. Many on the political left thought that the Shmoos satirically represented them as they pushed for governmentally sponsored social programs which were proliferating in Post-World War II America. The “Daily Worker” a Communists paper complained that Shmoos were an attack on Karl Marx and Socialism.