The Fat Man

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One afternoon in April of 1948, Oscar J. “Bud” Chase was tending bar at the Lakeview House on Genesee Street, when a red coupe pulled up to the curb and its occupant stepped out into the sunshine. “Hey, know who that is out there?,” said Chase, looking out the window. “That’s Jack Smart, the radio’s Fat Man!”

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Indeed, every Friday evening at 8 o’clock, thousands of listeners leaned closer to the radio as an announcer whispered, “There he goes, into that drugstore. He’s stepping on the scales. Weight? 237 pounds. Fortune? Danger. Whoooooo is it?” And then Jack Smart’s deep, sonorous tones answered, “The Fat Man.” Yes, right on Genesee Street in Skaneateles stood the radio drama’s Brad Runyon, the “stout but stalwart” detective.

And Bud Chase knew him on sight because they had met years before in Buffalo, Smart’s hometown. In fact, Smart was on his way from New York to Buffalo to see his mother. But first he was greeted by Chase and led into the Lakeview to meet the boys at the bar and proprietor Jacob “Jake” Brounstein.

Soon the center of attention, he drew pictures of himself on the backs of envelopes, autographing them “J. Scott Smart.” After a short visit, he was off to Buffalo, but not before impressing everyone in the Lakeview with his real-life girth, quick answers and down-to-earth personality.

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