While I dine at my TV tray in my little house at my writing retreat, I flip the TV channels between the nightly news and MASH. Lately, I’ve been watching a lot more of MASH. If you’re like me, you’ve seen every episode about as many times as you’ve watched Star Wars. So when I lie awake at night, hashing and rehashing what I’ve picked up in the news, I lull myself to sleep by thinking about what might have happened to the MASHers after the series sent them back to the States. I started writing down these epilogues. And because this is the internet, I’ve decided to put them here. In other words, I’ve stooped to fan fiction. I’m so sorry. I know. But if you’re at all interested in Meggie’s sketches of MASHer fates, I’ll post a few at a time.
(The first four of these are the most vanilla. Spin-off content constricted me some.)
COL. SHERMAN POTTER
What we know: The war’s end sent him home to Mildred in Hannibal, MO. He’d originally planned to work as a country doc after Korea, but he later decided to become the administrator of the local VA hospital. In AfterMASH he recruited Max Klinger as his administrative assistant and Father Mulcahy as the hospital’s Catholic chaplain. He helped Radar decide to marry his first wife, Sandy.
What I suggest: Potter served at the VA until deep into his seventies. He painted and he gardened. He taught his grandson, Corey, how to ride a horse. He stayed close with Max and Mulcahy. He and Mildred spent a few Thanksgivings with Radar and his family. (During the first one, he presented Radar with a family-heirloom carving knife). He also corresponded with Margaret, as he advised her on how to manage an army medical career (and its subsequent loneliness).
While he was in his eighties, Col. Potter developed dementia. Margaret helped Mildred prepare for what to expect. Margaret visited the Potters a few times while the colonel entered his dotage. Toward the end, she found the colonel still painting in his study, where, among other pictures, the portraits from Korea hung on his wall. Col. Potter died in his nineties—our 1980s—surrounded by friends.
CPL. WALTER RADAR O’REILLY
What we know: In his wallet, he kept a picture of himself with Hawkeye, Henry, and Margaret. He also reached out to Col. Potter, who helped him to get over his cold feet and marry his fiancee, Sandy. Almost immediately after the wedding, Radar found Sandy in the arms of another man. She and Radar divorced, he sold his family farm, and he moved to St. Louis to become a police officer. (CBS aired a single episode of W*A*L*T*E*R, which launched, and crashed, on this premise.) During that episode, Radar befriended, Victoria, who clerked at the local drugstore.
What I suggest: After a year on the job, Radar learned that a police career was not for him. He liked to work with people for longer than policing generally allows. He also hated the city. But his friendship with Victoria went very deep, and they eventually fell in love. Victoria’s father ran a pharmacy in South Dakota, and he’d been looking to expand. Radar decided he was pretty good at moving merchandise both in Korea and when he was trying to make ends meet on the farm. He married Victoria. They moved up to the family store, and Radar developed this great idea about serving free ice water to any customer who came in.
At Radar’s first wedding, Col. Potter said that in Korea, while Radar was learning how to become a man, Radar reminded Potter how to be one. At Col. Potter’s funeral, Radar said that Potter modeled not only how to become a man but also how to be a father. While they ran Wall Drug, Radar and Victoria raised a daughter (Rebekah) and a son (Henry).