I have a confession to make: I am a Pawn Stars junkie.
It’s true. I’ve watched the gang at the Las Vegas-based Gold & Silver Pawn Shop for most of its 14 years as a staple of the History Channel. I am powerless over the Harrisons and their antagonistic, snarky kind of family values.
For years I’ve witnessed main man Rick Harrison helm the second-hand ship built by his father Richard, an erasable yet remarkably likable old man whose passing in 2018 brought a tear to my eye.
Rick isn’t as codgerly as the Old Man was, as his family affectionately called him, but the Pawner-in-Chief does not suffer fools gladly. I’ve tuned in with delight as Rick swings from sheer ecstasy over a certifiable priceless relic, and then swing back into a formidable, menacing overlord if he senses a customer is trying to literally pawn off a worthless piece of junk as a priceless artifact.
I feel a sibling-like attachment to Rick’s son, Corey, who has matured from a bratty assistant into a solid voice of reason and heir-apparent to the Gold & Silver throne.
And then there’s Chumlee, an unkempt but loveable lug who parlayed his fondness for collectable toys and video games into a cable TV goldmine. If we ignore Chum’s 2016 arrest on gun and drug charges, he’d be a great guy to hang out with.
Finally, we have Olivia, the series’ lead female employee who, except for her masterful command of the English language, is a straight-up doppelganger of Lauren Boebert, that bobbleheaded Congresswoman from Colorado.
The Harrisons et al are a fun bunch, and if I ever find myself in Las Vegas, you can bet your last $20 plastic chip that I’ll stop by their fine establishment to say hello.
Pawn Stars is not only entertaining, but it also imparts a bounty of fascinating information about American history and culture. Any given day a potential customer might bring in a rare artifact from the Civil War, or an even rarer piece of jewelry once worn by Marilyn Monroe.
At this point, Pawn Stars is one of the very few shows in the History Channel lineup that still offers historical content to its viewers. It’s a captivating, wholesome show for anyone, but especially for kids to watch, particularly since our educational system is being so diluted by conservative right-wing book burners attempting and in many cases succeeding to remove any reference that might shed unfavorable light on our white straight male founding fathers.
Switching away from Pawn Stars, I recently stumbled upon one such history lesson, thanks to a wildly meandering doom scroll stroll on social media that led me to — of all places — MaternityWeek.com. There I found a remarkable story that is not likely to pop up in the current public-school curriculum.
It seems that shortly after setting sail from England for the New World in 1624, a man named Thomas Morton landed in Massachusetts. There he established Mount Wollaston, so-named after the ship’s captain, Richard Wollaston.
Now the site of Quincy, Mount Wollaston became known among the colonists as “Merry Mount,” based on the captain’s notorious fondness for “the fine arts and wild parties.” Sounds like a delightful Saturday night to me.
Drawing the ire of the Puritans, Wollaston befriended the local Algonquin tribe instead of trying to convert and/or kill them, setting the table, so to speak, for Dorothy Parker and her philosophical friends three centuries later.
OK, I made that last part up about Dorothy Parker. See how easy it is to alter history?
What mostly pissed off the Puritans, however, was the shocking fact that the settlement was the colonial version of modern-day Provincetown. Yep, it turns out the many Merry Mount men enjoyed “dancing and frisking together” as well as mounting each other. And so did the women. We always find our own, don’t we?
The surrounding colonies were truly horrified by the Bacchanalian lifestyle embraced by these Merry Mounters. Guess what happened next? By 1630, any traces of the freethinking settlement were scattered to the wind by Puritans who would stop at nothing to Make the New World Great Again. Puritans gonna purify.
Head on over to Maternity Week for the rest of story. It’s crazy, and scarily familiar sounding. The only thing that could possibly make the story more intriguing would be if some Quincy-ite unearthed a 17th-century disco ball while breaking ground to build a new Dunkin’s, and then brought it in to Chumlee for a big payout.
And that’s what we call full circle.