1966 - 1967
#51 - "Hey Diddle Diddle"
This was the third of Claude Akins five appearances on Laredo as Ranger Cotton Buckmeister. In this one, printer Lemuel Beamish arrives in a town about a days ride outside Laredo. He is being stalked by three villains who want the carpet bag he's carrying. Lemuel finds Cotton, Erik and Joe in a bar. When he discovers they're Texas Rangers, he gets them into a poker game in order to keep them up all night as unknowing protectors. He purposely loses $500 to Cotton. Lemuel decides to ride with them to Laredo.
When Lemuel's lack of horsemanship slows them up, Erik and Joe decide to leave him behind with Cotton. Cotton and Lemuel spend the night in an old fort. While Cotton is tending to the horses, the three villains sneak in and kill Lemuel. Cotton interrupts them before they can get the bag. With his dying words, Lemuel asks Cotton to give his niece Milly the bag when she gets to Laredo. Then he recites some lines from some nursery rhymes for Cotton to tell Milly.
Back in the Laredo saloon, Cotton mourns the late Lemuel while Joe and Erik mourn the money they lost to Cotton in the previous night's poker game. When Cotton heads back to the barracks, he's dragged into the alley by the three knaves. Joe comes to his rescue in time to once again save the carpet bag.

The boys figure there must be something in the bag, but they didn't expect $25,000. The boys persuade Cotton they should stay up all night to guard the money until the bank opens in the morning. The three of them win most of Cotton's $500.
The boys decide to splurge with their newfound wealth. Joe buys a horse. Erik gets a new suit. Chad buys a new rifle. When they catch sight of Milly, they figure Cotton got the best of the whole deal. Cotton gives her the money, but she seems more interested in Lem's last words.

While Chad stands guard outside the hotel door, Milly frantically tears apart the bag, looking for something she does not find. After she leaves, the three bad guys also check the bag and find nothing. She then convinces Cotton to take her to the fort where her uncle was killed.
While Cotton and Milly are on their way to the fort, the rest of the merry band are having their new goodies repossessed. Chad, rifleless, and Joe toting his saddle find Erik standing in the Ranger office in his underwear. Although Chad and Joe find this sight to have a cheering effect, they are not happy that all the money they won from Cotton was counterfeit. They decide that if Lemuel was a counterfeiter, Milly might be up to no good. So they follow Cotton to the fort.
The three villains knock Cotton out. While they are digging up Lemuel's grave to find the counterfeit plates, Milly tries to get Cotton to remember the nursery rhymes he heard from Lemuel. While the other Rangers take on the three bad guys, Milly remembers a nursery rhyme about apples and finds the plates hidden in an apple tree. In the midst of the fighting, she stashes them in the picnic basket she and Cotton brought to the fort.

With the bad guys tied up in the wagon, Cotton decides a piece of fried chicken would hit the spot.  Milly, realizing he will find the plates, pulls a gun. However, she's quickly brought under control and arrested with the rest. Back in Laredo, the Captain is not happy that his Rangers have left the office unmanned and have been spreading counterfeit money all over town. He is mollified by the fact that the Rangers rounded up all the counterfeiters, the fake money and the plates. But he makes them leave all their money in the office until it can be checked at the bank Monday morning. The boys figure it's going to be a long dull weekend. The Captain loans Cotton $5 so he can buy everyone a few drinks.
NiteOwl Review: We couldn't get up a lot of enthusiasm for this episode. Although we liked the affable, not too bright Cotton character, we thought he needed more balance from the other characters. We got Joe and Erik and Chad and Erik. Not enough Chad and Joe. Just an okay effort. There was a feeling of trying too hard to be cute.
Cast Note: Carl Ballentine was best known as Lester Gruber in four years of McHale's Navy.
All night poker game
Lemuel doesn't really want to
stay overnight at the old fort

For good reason
The boys win back their money from Cotton
Joe thanks Cotton for the horse
Chad and Erik spot Milly Beamish
Cotton breaks the news
Chad sitting guard
Milly searches the bag
The bad guys do likewise
No cloths
No horse
No rifle
Milly grills Cotton
The Rangers fight
Milly finds the plates
The boys face a penniless weekend
Original air date Feb 24, 1967
Directed by William Witney
Written by Gerry Day

Regular Cast
Neville Brand as Reese Bennett
Peter Brown as Chad Cooper
William Smith as Joe Riley
Robert Wolders as Erik Hunter
Phil Carey as Capt. Parmalee

Guest Cast
Claude Akins as Cotton Buckmeister
arilyn Erskine as Milly Beamish
acques Aubuchon as Morgan
arl Ballantine as Lemuel Beamish
ichael Forest as Miguel
ichael Keep as Yaqui
egina Gleason as Betsy
Official Peter Brown Fan Site