Somerset Storylines (1970-72)
Attorney Sam Lucas and wife Lahoma Vane Lucas moved to the small town of Somerset where Sam became the junior law partner of Ben Grant. Ben Grant's family consisted of wife Ellen and fraternal twins teenagers Jill and David. Ellen Grant's shrewd calculating sister India married Robert Delaney, an heir to Somerset's chief employer-- a cannery named Delaney Brands.
The patriarch of the Delaney family was cruel, domineering Jasper Delaney, whose three children (Robert, Peter, and Laura) had never been able to stand up to him. Because Delaney Brands was the major industry in Somerset, Jasper's actions affected most of the town's citizens. Robert and India had no children and a very unhappy marriage. Although not intentionally bad, India had a hunger for life and resorted to having affairs when the emasculated Robert refused to stand up to his father. Robert worked for his father at Delaney Brands, though it was brother-in-law Rex Cooper whom Jasper favored for controlling the business after his retirement. Jasper had arranged a marriage between Rex and Jasper's unhappy daughter Laura, who was even more affected by Jasper's cruelty than brother Robert. Rex and son Tony Cooper couldn't understand Laura's erratic behavior and morbid depression, but there was a good reason... Laura was hiding a terrible secret. Many years before, Laura had an affair with a man named Harry Wilson. Jasper discovered the affair and forced Harry to leave Somerset forever, unaware that Laura was carrying Harry's child...Tony! Keeping the secret of Tony's parentage had taken its toll on Laura, resulting in a life of secret alcoholism.
Sam Lucas' former brother-in-law and his family also resided in Somerset: Gerald Davis, wife Marsha, and daughter Pamela (Pammy). Pammy was attracted to the handsome, wealthy, and honest Tony Cooper, though Tony harbored a deep infatuation with Jill Grant. Meanwhile, Gerald ran the Riverboat nightclub. Gerald's employees included Jessica Buchanan, a beautiful lounge-singer, Randy Buchanan, Jessica's manipulative younger brother, and the mysterious Ike Harding, whose dirty dealings were often at odds with basically fair Gerald.
In June 1971, Somerset was suddenly rocked to its foundation when Jasper Delaney died suddenly in the anteroom of his office at Delaney Brands while engaging in a violent argument with son Robert. With Jasper unconscious from an apparent heart attack, Robert fled for help. However, someone was lurking in the shadows. Moments later, an unseen intruder smothered the still breathing Jasper to death with a pillow. There were many possible suspects including: Peter, Laura, Rex, Tony, India, Jessica, Randy, and Gerald, but it was Robert who was charged with his father's death. Ben Grant and Sam Lucas agreed to defend him, though an acquittal seemed unlikely. Things continued to look bleak for Robert; however, all that changed one afternoon when Sam visited Somerset High School for a lecture. While waiting for his audience to arrive, Sam noticed the names of eight presidents on the chalkboard: Wilson, Truman, Harding, Eisenhower, Coolidge, Kennedy, Roosevelt, and Johnson. Killing time, Sam wrote the first names above the last names of the presidents. Suddenly, he circled the HARRY above Truman, the IKE above Eisenhower, the WILSON, and the HARDING. Sam wondered if Gerald's assistant Ike Harding might actually be Laura's former lover Harry Wilson. Sam investigated the theory and finally, in a confrontation, Ike admitted that he was indeed Harry Wilson. And not only that, he killed Jasper Delaney, too! After Robert left the anteroom to get help, Ike arrived and smothered Jasper to death in order to protect his secret identity.
A stunned Laura, who didn't know that Harry had returned, became so hysterical that Rex feared for her safety and had her committed to a sanitarium. Meanwhile, son Tony, devastated at learning his true parentage, was manipulated into leaving town with Pammy, who schemed with partner-in-trouble Randy to keep Tony and Jill apart. Robert, now free from his father's dominance, divorced India and married his true love Jessica.
Shortly thereafter, many changes occurred in Somerset. Ike died in a violent gangland shootout on the Riverboat, while pregnant Jessica perished in a car accident, while moving with Robert to nearby Bay City. Before Robert and brother Peter left Somerset, they sold Delaney Brands to businessman Leo Kurtz, whose brother Stan was a prominent doctor in Somerset. Unbeknownest to anyone, though, Leo was actually the front-man for a powerful criminal syndicate that wanted a foothold in Somerset.
India Delaney, now divorced from Robert, found shortlived happiness with Chuck Hillman, a tennis pro at the local country club. Hillman was the only man to love India on her own terms and comforted her when Somerset society rejected her. However, he was also an alcoholic and golddigger who had sinister plans. Eventualy he attempted to kill his wife, bludegoning her with a candlestick. India survived, but left Somerset permanently.
Following the departure of Tony Cooper, Jill Grant turned her attention to Mitch Farmer, a troubled young man with a shady past. Despite the objections of parents Ben and Ellen, Jill married Mitch and left Somerset for Boston. Jill's twin brother David had problems of his own. David dated the spunky, but sickly Andrea Moore, whose oddball family consisted of icy mother Emily, despondent brother Dana, gold-digging stepfather Philip Matson, Philip's strange son Carter, neurotic daughter Zoe, Zoe's classical pianist husband Julian Cannell, and Emily's nutty Aunt Rowena. The wealthy Moore's and Matson's were very competitive and success-driven and every evening fierce backgammon matches were held in the family mansion. Meanwhile, Andrea, displaying unusual symptoms, grew sicker and sicker.
Emily called Dr. Stan Kurtz to consult on Andrea's case, but initially to no avail. As a child, Andrea had suffered a debilitating illness that kept her incapacitated much of the time. She fondly remembered a childhood game in which brother Dana would dress as her favorite clown character Jingles and bring a joke every evening along with her medicine. Dr. Kurtz attempted to treat Andrea, but her illness continued to worsen. Then, in the middle of the night, Andrea developed terrifying visions of Jingles the Clown lurking around the family mansion. She assumed the visions were some sort of surreal nightmare.
Andrea Moore, learning her illness is potentially fatal, shuts everyone out of her life, including her boyfriend David Grant, whom she doesn't want to burden with her condition. Andrea's stepbrother Carter Matson encourages her actions and tries to promote himself in Andrea's eyes as he has amassed outstanding debts to an underworld syndicate, debts which could be settled with Andrea's future inheritance. Aware that Andrea's condition improves in the hospital but deteriorates at home, Dr. Stan Kurtz re-hospitalizes her in the hope that she may be suffering a physical reaction to something in her surroundings.
Carter's offhand remark that Andrea may be the victim of poisoning leads Dr. Kurtz to engage a toxicologist who discovers that Andrea is indeed being poisoned with a form of arsenic. Carter openly implies that the logical suspect is Dana Moore, Andrea's brother...and heir. Learning that her condition might be reversible, Andrea reconciles with David. Keeping the arsenic discovery a secret from all but David, his father attorney Ben Grant, and Andrea's mother Emily, Dr. Kurtz allows Andrea to return home. Emily keeps an eagle's eye on her daughter, including all food and drinks, hoping that they can uncover what form the poisoning is taking.
Rex Cooper, supervisor of Delaney Brands, is found seriously injured in the warehouse, the apparent victim of an accident, immediately after learning about plant manager Virgil Paris' police record. Rex's wife Laura is certain that Paris tried to murder her husband, but she has no proof. Laura also believes Leo Kurtz, father of her daughter-in-law Ginger, is involved too. This belief creates tension between Ginger and Laura' s son Tony, who are staying with Laura during Rex's hospitalization. Leo's brother Dr. Stan Kurtz is handling Rex's case and informs the family that Rex's accident has left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Lahoma Lucas is also convinced of Paris' guilt and pressures her husband Sam, president of Delaney Brands, to fire him, but Sam refuses, recalling his own police record. The strain from problems at Delaney Brands begins to hurt the Lucas marriage. Meanwhile, Paris visits Laura, obliquely threatening her if she continues to implicate him around Somerset in her husband's "accident." Paris later brags to Leo about killing Harry Johnson and arranging Rex's death. Leo cautions him that too much violence is being used; the syndicate they both work for wants the takeover of Delaney Brands to be smooth and unobtrusive. Needing more influence over Sam, Paris terrorizes Sam's secretary into leaving Somerset, while Leo arranges for Chrystal Ames, a syndicate employee, to replace her.