If you were born after, say, 1990, it might strike you as very strange that once upon a time in America, every male, with only a few exceptions, had to serve in the army whether he wanted to or not. But it’s true. When I was a boy, every male over 18 had to register for the draft and pretty much everybody got sucked up. (Well, God told us through Samuel what a king would do to us, didn’t he? Too bad we didn’t listen.)
And so The Phil Silvers Show, also known as simply Sgt. Bilko, struck a universal chord back then that it doesn’t strike anymore… because we have no draft, thank God.
Sgt. Bilko (Silvers) was a smooth con man working in the motor pool and being a thorn in the side to his commanding officer, Col. Hall. Paul Ford was just great as the hapless colonel, perpetually bamboozled by the slippery sergeant.
This was an awfully funny show, although a military draft is not funny at all. God did warn us about increasing the size and power of the state (I Samuel Chapter 8)–but no, the people had to have a king like everybody else! The show ran from 1955 through 1959 and was very popular. Gee, I can hardly believe I was only 10 years old when Sgt. Bilko went off the air.
Seems like only yesterday…