S3 E16 A Place To Die

Welcome back friends and fans. Here’s another special episode of GT. Michael befriended an old man who lived in a rest home and came for an unusual visit. Hope you enjoy the review.

J.J. is on the phone trying to rent a tuxedo for New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the cash for what they were charging. He kept asking for a lower price. Then resorted to leaving certain parts out, including the shoes, stating he can paint his sneakers black. Florida asked him to stop tying up the phone because she was waiting to hear from James, who was out of town working an extra job. J.J. told the man on the phone he needed to check with his business manager. He asked Florida for $5 and she answered they were low on cash, which was why James was taking that other job. Thelma came out and said Florida needed to take in the waist because Thelma lost a few pounds and Florida claimed they may have found them. James called with the news that he would be home to celebrate the new year with her. Florida went to answer the door and it was an old man who knew all their names. He came in and stated their apartment was the best place for him to die. He explained that they were a close, loving family and that was his idea to die in dignity, around a family like theirs.

Michael came home and it was established that he and the visitor, Hubert Johnson, were close friends. Michael stopped to talk to Mr. Johnson outside the rest home where he lived to talk to him. They even showed Florida a dance Michael showed Mr. Johnson that he called the hustle, they put their arms around each other and walk sideways and back starting on the right foot. Mr. Johnson announced that his health was declining and he was ready to die. His heart was slowing down and his blood was having trouble circulating. He also stated that at the rest home when a patient passes away, they lock everyone in their rooms and run the departed out without giving anyone a chance to say good-bye. When Florida asked about his family, he answered his son was in California and his daughter in Savannah, but hasn’t seen them in 15 years. Florida stated when it was her time, she would like her family around, J.J. replied they wouldn’t miss it for the world. A rental service came to deliver a bed Mr. Johnson rented so he wouldn’t have to use theirs. Willona came in wondering where it came from and met Mr. Johnson, who said Michael told her she was a woman and he was right. She answered he was only exaggerating. Florida sent Mr. Johnson inside while they discuss whether he should stay or not. The kids and Willona convinced her, with Michael telling her that when he went inside the rest home, it was very depressing to see the old people in their beds looking at nothing, and he’d be much happier there. Florida finally relented and when they called Mr. Johnson out for Florida to tell him so, he and Michael did the hustle one more time.

J.J. woke up on New Year’s Eve while Michael was in the bathroom. He said good morning to Hubert but when he didn’t respond or move, J.J. yelled for Florida. She and Thelma rushed out and started mourning. Then Hubert started to wake up and frightened them. He wanted their opinion about how he would look buried in his old suit. Florida started doubting that he was about to die. Willona came in and he asked her why a beautiful woman like herself wasn’t married. She asked him if that  was a proposal, he asked her to light his fire.  She asked him if he had anything left to burn. Then James called and said there was a major snowstorm and all the roads were blocked, which delayed him from coming home. Florida lamented how that was their first New Year’s when they couldn’t be together. The kids and Willona decided to change their plans and have a party at home, so Florida wouldn’t be alone. Thelma claimed her boyfriend Larry was working late anyway and J.J. decided to bring his date there instead of the YMCA, for it was free at home and cost $3.50 there. Michael decided to skip his girlfriend’s party, he stated she always wanted him to kiss her and when he did so his bubble gum stuck to her braces. Willona also stated she’d get her date to cancel their reservations and use the money for a bottle of champagne. Then he asked Hubert to join them, he answered if he’s still alive, they may as well jive.

Just minutes before midnight, Hubert was worrying because he wasn’t dead yet. He also wondered what kind of eulogy he would receive, for he wasn’t rich or famous, just a regular stiff and didn’t think of it as very exciting. Willona put on a fantastic song and dance about how there is nothing better than an ordinary man. She had the whole family and her date and J.J.’s date join in unison for a song “When Hubert J. Goes Marching In”. (taken from “When The Saints Go marching In”)  Suddenly, Hubert started to weaken and then died in the chair. Michael broke down but Florida told him it was all right, for he died just the way he wanted, with a family and friends around.

Originally aired December 30, 1975

Written by Norman Paul, Jack Elinson, Roger Shulman and John Baskin

Directed by Herbert Kenwith

Guest star Arnold Johnson

James did not appear in this episode

One of my favorite episodes. It was also very touching, the way Michael started crying and everybody was gathered around Hubert. It is very difficult to lose a close friend, especially at a young age. Willona’s performance sounded very similar to her singing the theme song on The Jeffersons “Movin’ on Up”. I don’t know why they couldn’t have her do that in more episodes.




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