Annie and Jennifer's
The Laramie Story
      
Slim, Andy, Jonesy and Jess


The history of Laramie, the show, not the town, is really the history of a family.  A family perhaps not of blood, but of experience, loyalty, friendship, trust, and heart.



Andy and Slim

In the first episode of the first season, we meet Slim and Andy Sherman,owners of the Sherman Ranch and way station for the Great Central Overland Mail.  The ranch is twelve miles west of Laramie and is also called "Twelve-Mile House".  Slim and Andy are brothers who have lost both of their parents and are now running the ranch on their own with the help of their father's old friend, Jonesy.

Slim is a civil war veteran, twenty-eight years old during the first season (The Lonesome Gun).   After the war he drifted for awhile and sewed some wild oats before coming home( Fugitive Road).  His father was killed shortly after that, and his mother died a while later ( The Last Battleground).

After his parents' deaths, it becomes Slim's responsibility to raise his fourteen year old brother, Andy, a responsibility that Slim takes very seriously.  Slim tends to be a bit rigid and holds himself and Andy to a very high set of ideals.  He has a very highly developed sense of right, and wrong.  When trouble comes, Slim is the first to say "let the law handle it".  He protects Andy from outside influence as much as he can by keeping him close to home.

With the ranch not doing well by itself, Slim takes on a contract with The Great Central Overland Mail to provide a relay station for their stage coaches.  The ranch supplies horses for the relay teams, and occasional meals for the passengers (Stage Stop).


Jess, Andy and Jonesy

Fourteen-year-old Andy, if not the opposite of his brother, is not exactly on the same wavelength.  Although he loves Slim very much, Andy is a free spirit who wants more than anything to leave the ranch and see the world.  He rarely even gets to go to Laramie, and complains:  "I'm so sick of switching teams for stages I never get to ride on, stages going west, stages going east, wagon trains rolling through. Everybody's on the move but me." (Stage Stop).  Andy loves animals and always has a critter that he has found and is taking care of. From racoons, dogs, and cats (Stage Stop), to wolf cubs (Duel At Parkison Town), he is unafraid of any animal and has an amzing rapport..  He can handle horses as well, and sometimes better than Slim (Ride The Wild Wind).  Andy is Slim's brother, but in spirit, he is much closer to Jess. It's undeniable that he idolizes both of them ("I don't want to be smart! I want to be just like you and Jess!").


Jonesy


Jonesy is probably in his sixties, has a bad back, loves music, plays a mean piano (Glory Road), helps with indoor and outdoor chores, and does the cooking.  He also loves to make horrible smelling liniments which Slim makes him cook in the barn because they smell up the house (General Delivery).

Jonesy is very close to both Slim and Andy, but has butted-heads with Slim at times on the subject of Andy.  Jonesy tends to be Andy's advocate, but also keeps a firm, but gentle hand on the boy's impetuousness. Jonesy was very close friends with Slim and Andy's father, Matt, and has filled in as a father-figure to them both since Matt's death.

Jonesy is known for his slightly sarcastic humor and quick wit (The General Must Die),his homespun sayings and country wisdom (Fugitive Road), and his bad back and complete ineptitude with horses. The man can barely stay on a horse, and doesn't care to ride unless he has to (The Lonesome Gun). The horses would just as soon bite him as look at him.


Jess

When we first meet Jess Harper, he is a drifter with a questionable past.  At various times he has been a gunfighter, a drover (Lost Allegiance), a ranch hand (The Run To Tumavaca), and a deputy.  He has been in jail at least once.

Jess was raised in Texas and had at least two other siblings.  One sister was named Francie.  In one of the great continuity errors of the show, Jess' sister Francie is alternately younger and dead (Fugitive Road), and older and alive (Shadow of the Past).  Go figure.

Jess and the mysterious Francie's home was burned out by the Bannister Gang causing several members of his family to die (Men of Defiance).  He left his home in Texas at the age of fifteen and joined the Confederate Army (Shadow of the Past).  Jess served his stint in the army during the Civil War, and was even in a Yankee prisoner of war camp(The Replacement). After the war, he went home again, but there was nothing left for him there, so he drifted for the next five years (Fugitive Road).

When he arrives at the Sherman Ranch, Jess doesn't realize it at first, but he has finally found a home.  Jess and Andy develop an immediate rapport.  Andy loves Jess' sense of fun and adventure and his independence, which is a marked contrast to his own brother.  Jess in turn treats Andy like a treasured little brother and becomes very protective of him (Glory Road).

The first season episodes are populated by a succession of Jess' friends and acquaintances from his past who pull him into their troubles or come looking for him for one reason or another (Glory Road, General Delivery, Fugitive Road etc).  Jess is forever leaving to go help a friend (The Debt, The Star Trail), or having someone come gunning for him.  More than once he decides he must leave the ranch in order to protect Slim, Andy, and Jonesy from his past catching up with him and hurting them (Glory Road).  Through it all, a deep and abiding trust and friendship is developing between Jess and Slim. Slim calls Jess "the best friend I ever had" (Company Man), and Jess admits that Slim "has been like a brother to me" (Man From Kansas).  Whenever Jess leaves (which is often at first), Slim always makes sure he knows that the door is always open and he'll be welcomed back (The Debt).  On the occasions when Jess does have to leave, Andy becomes dejected to the point of despair.  More than once he was at the point of tears when he thought Jess would never come back (Glory Road,The Run to Tumavaca).  Also, on more than one occasion, Slim has had to ride out to rescue Jess from his latest escapade (The Run to Tumavaca,Fugitive Road).

Jess tends to be hot-headed, can be short-tempered at times, but he also has a rascally sense of humor. He loves to tease Slim just to get a rise out of him, and is often slugged, chased down, or dunked for his trouble (Queen Of Diamonds,  The Fortune Hunter).

Jess is extremely loyal even to people who are undeserving. He has a past with women   (The Run to Tumavaca)  (Cactus Lady), but seems to avoid those relationships now.  They have been unhealthy for him in the past. He once had an affair with a married woman that ended badly (The Run to Tumavaca). He is respectful of all women in general, and flirts at times with anyone from rancher's daughters, to saloon girls,  ( The Violent Ones),and traveling entertainers(Dragon at the Door).  Jess likes to play poker and is good at it (Queen of Diamonds).  We find early on that Jess can't swim, he almost drowns in  Fugitive Road, but later on, Andy teaches him   (The Run to Tumavaca).

Jess is known for his prowess with a gun, and his way with horses  (No Second Chance). His gun talents are demonstrated often, and he's lighteming quick. He can hold his own in any fight, even against long odds. He often whips three or four at a time, even more if the occasion demands it (Vengeance). When he came to live at the Sherman ranch, he put away his "gunfighters" gun and now carries a regular six-shooter.  The old gun is hidden in the planks of the fire place in the parlor, and has come out only during stressful moments  (General Delivery)   (The Long Riders).  Jess always steps in to help others, respects people from all walks of life, and takes care of his horse before he takes care of himself.  His only fears are "a decent woman, and being left afoot" (Among the Missing).

Both Jess and Slim, but most surprisingly, Jess, have earned the respect of the local law so that on frequent occasions, one or both of them are asked to fill in for the sheriff (Hour After Dawn, Gun Duel, and Shadow of the Past), or ride in a posse (Double Eagles,The Stranger). Despite his shady past, Jess counts Sheriff Mort Corey as one of his best friends.

After the first season ended, Andy all but disappeared from the ranch.  He was sent off to school in St. Louis, with Jonesy accompanying him.  Jonesy was never seen again, but Andy did make an occasional appearance when he came home for vacations (Duel at Parkison Town)(The Long Riders).

After Jonesy's and Andy's departure, the two guys were left on their own for most of the second season.


Mike and Miss Daisy

At the beginning of the third season, a new character is introduced. Mike is a little boy, about nine years old, who is orphaned by indians.  He comes to stay at the ranch (Dragon at the Door) and ends up staying for the rest of the series.  Both Slim and Jess are fond of him, and prove they would each make good fathers.  Mike is younger than Andy was, and needs more care and, like Andy, is fond of animals.  Mike seems to forever have dogs and their puppies around. He also has a pet squirrel (The Mountain Men)  He is boisterous at times, mischievous, but sweet and loving.  Jess and Slim are his heroes, and he adores Miss Daisy.

By the second episode of the third season, another member of the family is added in the formidable form of Daisy Cooper.  "Miss Daisy" to Slim and Jess, and "Aunt Daisy" to Mike, is an older widow from the east who comes west to buy a store, but she has been swindled and is instead hired by Slim and Jess as a housekeeper and caretaker for Mike (Ladies Day).  Daisy proves to be more than a match for the previously all male household.

Daisy lost her only son in the war and served as a nurse for the army.  This  makes her real handy for digging out bullets and such-like.  She admires Slim, adores Mike, and is particularly fond of Jess.  She is adept at getting her opinions heard without being overt, bakes a wicked apple pie, and is a master manipulator when it suits her purpose (The Mountain Men). Daisy is the strong and loving mother figure for the entire household, more often the voice of reason, and sometimes their saving grace.

As the Laramie storyline progressed over four years, both Slim and Jess began to take on a few of the characteristics of the other. The first and second seasons seem to be rife with the two of them bickering, particularly the second season (The Long Riders) (Drifter's Gold). Jess is singularly hot headed in the first season, but seems to mellow a bit as time goes on. Likewise, Slim loosens a bit of his rigid ideals, and lets loose on occasion. In neither case is the character compromised.

We learn in the fourth season that Jess has been made a partner in the ranch and relay station. A big deal is not made of it, but it is mentioned in passing.(Lost Allegiance)

The family closeness and homey feel of the first season was lost for much of the second season with the absence of Andy and Jonesy. Even so, the second season contained some of the best, most entertaining episodes of the series. The family feel came back very strongly in the third and fourth seasons with the addition of Daisy and Mike. Jonesy, Daisy, Andy and Mike served as a base for our two heroes- something for them to fight for and to protect.

Most unfortunately, the writers began to separate the characters more and more as time went on. There were many episodes with Slim and no Jess, or Jess and no Slim. Or, more often, the episode would focus on one, while the other was only seen in the "bookends" of the first and last scenes (too many to mention). These episodes are not bad, some are even the best of the series, but the two characters together were magic. It was always much more interesting when they shared the screen and had the Slim and Jess dynamic going for them like the partners that they were.

Ever wonder what the words to the Laramie theme were? Well, Pard, click    Here  to find out!


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