Hello everyone. Hope you’re having a good week. As usual someone reminded me that in my last column about the western stars we saw at the Grand I hadn’t mentioned Wild Bill Elliott, Don “Red” Barry or Charles Starrett. So I thought that I’d mention them and some others that I may have overlooked: Allen “Rocky” Lane, Sunset Carson, Robert Livingston, Russell Hayden, Bob Steele, Tom Tyler, and Ray “Crash” Corrigan.
With the exception of Bob Steele who turned up as a bit player in some of the John Wayne westerns, none of the others were heard from again after the “B” westerns passed into history. Bob Steele whose name was Robert Bradbury, Jr. the son of famous director of westerns, Robert Bradbury had a long career starting in the twenties.
It isn’t fair to talk about these guys without mentioning that mainstay of the westerns, the side kick. Gene Autry had Smiley “Frog” Burnett who later was in Petticoat Junction on TV and was a song writer in his own right.
Roy Rogers had Gabby Hayes who had actually had an earlier career as a character actor and wound up playing Windy in the earlier Hopalong Cassidy westerns.
Russell Hayden had Dub Taylor and also Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. Taylor was in Hee Haw for many years later in his career.
It seems that the sidekicks had a longer run than the stars. I didn’t expect to create this much interest on this subject and I’ll probably hear from some of you about others that I’ve failed to mention.
I knew the last two owners of the Grand, Shine Tyson, and Robert Bostick, and I also knew Mr. Bostick’s nephew, Leon Rountree, who managed the Grand successfully for several years. I also remember Mr. Bostick as an astute businessman who when he was in town would fill a basket with bags of popcorn and walk up and down the aisle selling it as it was done at baseball games in those days.
Mr. Bostick offered me a job with his theatre supply company on two different occasions, but for some reason I never accepted. When he would come to the Valley he would have one of the two Cadillacs in town — the other belonged to Dr. George.
I heard from Gloria Gardner this week and was happy to know she is doing well. She lost everything in a fire but says she is now getting back to normal. I consider Gloria a friend although I’ve never met her personally. I did know her Dad, Frank Gardner, her uncle, Cap Gardner, and her grandfather, Will Gardner through my connection with the Newman-Gardner funeral home. She has been sending me hand-written letters for the almost seven years that I’ve written this column. There is something special today when someone takes the time to write a letter.
She always expresses a desire to visit the Valley and I hope some day we’ll get to meet face to face. Old friend, Jim Allen has become a regular contributor to the Oxford “So and So” bi-monthly publication and if you’ve never seen it I recommend that you look into it. I’ve been asked to submit something but haven’t done so — maybe in the future.
Here’s a little tidbit you might not know. At one time Water Valley had four new car dealers in town. Not bad for a town of less that four thousand, wouldn’t you agree?
I saw something in one of Bill Sissell’s columns about the whey tank at the Kraft cheese plant. If memory serves, the man I remember being in charge was Mr. Woods, brother to Herbert Woods and Annie Key Woods Mauldin.
He had been badly crippled in an accident and could barely manage handling the hose to dispense the whey. Since Papa Badley always bought whey to feed his hogs when he sold milk to the plant, I believe the price was indeed fifteen cents and that was his pay for operating the tank. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a great week.