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Charlie Smith and the Fritter Tree

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Summary
This is the story of Charlie Smith, a 134-year-old black man, who tells his life story, via flashbacks, to an orderly at his nursing home. The story moves from his childhood days when he was bought as a slave by a Texas farmer, Charlie Smith. Charlie treats the boy as a member of his family. When slaves are free, he decides to stay with Charlie until he dies. After Charlie's death, he assumes his name, as Charlie asked him to do. The story becomes picaresque, as Charlie moves throughout the Old West, being a ranch hand, gambler, train robber, bounty hunter, family man, honkytonk owner, and, finally, circus sideshow attraction. Through his life the viewer sees the changes in the history of the Old West, including attitudes towards blacks and racism.

After the dramatized account is finished, video footage of the real Charles Smith's134th birthday party, filmed at his nursing home, is shown. The credits say that "his life has been the inspiration for this television fantasy." Produced and directed by Fred Barzyk and David Loxton.

"Visions" was a series showcasing experimental dramas produced by WNET (New York). Fred Barzyk and Olivia Tappan developed a close working relationship with WNET producer David Loxton, which led to the creation of several works, including collaborations with writer Jean Shepherd.
Topics
Comedy, Drama
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