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BOB NOLAN: EARLY LIFE AND CAREER (1942-1943)

 

• Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers

• Madison Square Garden 1942

• Foghorn Clancy

• LaGuardia

• Sally Rand

• Adrienne Ames

• 1943 Tour Season

• Madison Square Garden 18th Annual Rodeo (October 1943)

• Madison Square Garden Program 1943

• Tour of the State of Texas (February 1943)

• 3rd Annual Rodeo Fans of America Banquet

• Contestants Boston Garden Rodeo Washington, DC

• Clara Brown (P'Nuts) Nolan

• Stage Door Canteen

• Armed Forces Radio Services (AFRS)

 

Movies made from 1942-1943:

MAN FROM CHEYENNE (Republic / Rogers - 1942 01 16)

SOUTH OF SANTA FE (Republic / Rogers - 1942 02 17)

SUNSET ON THE DESERT (Republic / Rogers - 1942 04 01)

ROMANCE ON THE RANGE (Republic / Rogers - 1942 05 18)

SONS OF THE PIONEERS (Republic / Rogers - 1942 07 02)

CALL OF THE CANYON (Republic / Autry - 1942 08 10)

SUNSET SERENADE (Republic / Rogers - 1942 09 14)

HEART OF THE GOLDEN WEST (Republic / Rogers - 1942 12 11)

RIDIN’ DOWN THE CANYON (Republic / Rogers - 1942 12 30)

IDAHO (Republic / Rogers - 1943 03 10)

KING OF THE COWBOYS (Republic / Rogers - 1943 04 09)

SONG OF TEXAS (Republic / Rogers - 1943 06 14)

SILVER SPURS (Republic / Rogers - 1943 08 12)

MAN FROM MUSIC MOUNTAIN (Republic / Rogers - 1943 09 22C, 1943 10 30R)

 

1942 marked a period of activity unlike any the Sons of the Pioneers had before. Not only were they appearing in movies but they were recording, making radio programs, touring with Roy Rogers and entertaining the soldiers, sailors and airmen who were preparing to go into battle. Many of their radio programs were tailored for these men and were not heard by the general public. And all the time, Bob Nolan was writing music.

 

Meanwhile, his daughter, Roberta, was growing up into a beautiful young woman. Even though her mother had remarried, she would not allow Bobbie to contact her father whom she had not seen since she was a baby.  Bobbie could not remember him at all so she clipped pictures of him from movie magazines and newspapers which she kept in her scrapbook. She also joined the Sons of the Pioneers fan club early in 1944. She had taken her stepfather's name of McEniry and her address was 420-28th St., Oakland, CA.

 

Roberta "Bobbie" Nolan, 13

 

A page from Roberta's scrapbook. Her mother, Pearl, on the left, Bob on the right.

 

When he was 34, Bob married again on June 11, 1942 [or August 14, 1941 - Sons of the Pioneers newsletter]. Clara Brown was a lady so small she was nicknamed "P-Nuts". She had come to Hollywood to find stardom but instead found work at the soda fountain in the Columbia Drugstore on Sunset and Gower near the Columbia Studio lot where Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers dropped in for lunch or coffee. Bob reportedly worked on his song lyrics there, too, using any piece of paper handy.

 

Columbia Drugstore, 1939

 

1942, with the World War II draft in place, was a critical year in Roy's career. On October 6, Roy and Arline legally had their surname changed to "Rogers". Gene Autry joined the Army Air Corps and Republic began to build up Roy and Trigger to take his place as the Number One Singing Cowboy. For personal appearances, he was at World Championship Rodeos around the country. He made 136 appearances in 20 days in Texas for the 8th Service Command, selling war bonds. He and the Sons of the Pioneers performed for bond sales activities, stage canteens, base hospitals, and underprivileged children.

 

Bob bought a house on a double lot and they settled down at 4213 Gentry Avenue, Studio City, California, close to the Republic lot. When Bob was involved in a film, he would walk to the studio and, when he returned home for lunch, he would often have a bunch of small children walking with him. Bob would have a nap and P-Nuts would feed and entertain the children until he was ready to return to work. They had lived in an apartment but Bob decided to buy the house in case he was conscripted. He said wanted to have "somewhere to come home to" after the war.

 

Bob and P-Nuts

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

On tour in 1942, they were photographed in front of the  Alamo, at Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls, and with Governor Stevenson of Texas. Roy himself was photographed in a black hat with Little Trigger on the lawn across from the Capitol building in Washington, DC. Roy and the Pioneers debuted at the 17th Annual Madison Square Garden Rodeo from October 7-25 where roughly 200 cowboys and cowgirls were competing. After 19 days, he set a new attendance record and Trigger "celebrated" a birthday there and impressed the press when he stepped into the Dixie Hotel and signed in with an "X" at the registration desk. Roy and the Pioneers appeared at the famed Stage Door Canteen. Roy presented the mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia, with a pair of silver spurs. They entertained at Merchant Seaman's base, Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children and at St. John's Home in Brooklyn.

 

The Sons of the Pioneers with their fan club, 1942, at Madison Square Garden, New York, in Roy Rogers' dressing room.

Martha Retsch (fan club president) is 2nd from front left. Patsy Linton is the little girl with her arm around Bob.

The other ladies were members of Roy Rogers' fan club.
(John Fullerton Collection)

 

MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

The Pioneers were now appearing everywhere with Roy Rogers, including Washington DC, Brooklyn, and at Roy's debut at the 17th annual Madison Square Garden Rodeo in New York City. The Sons of the Pioneers signed for 26 performances from October 7 – 24. After 19 days a new attendance record was set.  While they were at the Garden, the Pioneers made three weekly broadcasts over station WJZ. Roy presented Mayor La Guardia of New York City with a pair of his silver spurs while the Pioneers and the female rodeo stuntwomen and competitors in their beautifully tailored garb were in attendance. Bob met the famous Foghorn Clancy, longtime rodeo announcer and promoter. They were all feted at the Second Annual Convention for Rodeo Fans of America Banquet at the Hotel Belvedere on October 17, 1942, and Bob found himself later at a party with the rodeo greats plus Sally Rand who was married to Turk Greenough, world champion saddle bronc rider, at the time. New York's famous Stage Door Canteen hosted a performance by the Sons of the Pioneers.

 

The "airport limo" in New York City.

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

Yessir, finished a picture out at Republic about 5PM and at 6:15 we were 10,000 feet in the air and sailin' over the high Sierras. Along about midnite we were matching speed with the famous geese that fly so high over Kansas. Passin' up the details of this slow and tedious journey, I can report that 16 hours later (from the time of take-off) we were safe in the wagon yard just a half block off Broadway. (Hugh Farr,  p 3 Tumbleweed Topics, Vol 2 No 16, November, 1942)

 

Performing at Madison Square Garden

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

Private Collection

 

Private Collection

 

New York was swell. We did 26 shows from October 7th to the 21st. Not only did we see the world's greatest cowboys in action but we heard Roy Rogers lead 390,000 people in Home on the Range. 15,000 at each performance...and did them Brooklyn buckaroos bust a lung on that famous western ballad. (Hugh Farr, p. 3 Tumbleweed Topics, Vol 2 No 16, 1942)

 

IT SEEMS TO ME
(Tim Spencer, 1942)

I stood there on Broadway and gazed
At towers and temples, jumbled maze
Of steel and stone and masonry
I could but think, it seems to me,
With all the boundless lands we own
We're fools to live in cliffs of stone
When there are breezes wild and free
I could but think, it seems to me,
That folks in subways, jammed to death
Just breathin' of each other's breath
Should chuck it all and go and see
The open range – it seems to me.
When there's so much of space and room
Where kids could play, where flowers bloom
On shady carpets 'neath a tree
We've missed the boat, it seems to me.
I stood down where the "forties" roar
And wondered what they're roarin' for
The magic city's symphony
Of clan and bang – it seems to me.
Oh, you New Yorkers with your speed
Your Forty-Second Street stampede
Too much for me – I'd never be
A city guy – it seems to me.

 

 

The Sons of the Pioneers' secretary, Nancy Kendall, was good with verse, too. Her descriptions of each member of the group are priceless:


THUS SPEAKS THE SECRETARY

by Nancy Kendall

And now the sissy pioneer
Proceeds to get all set
For typin' up the magazine
Each month (sometimes) you get.

She knows that lots of charmin' girls
Are envious of her
That they would like to have as pals
The gang she's workin' fer.

But life is not all sunshine.
I have troubles, too, my dears.
It's not a bed of roses
Workin' for the Pioneers.

For Tim will say, "It seems to me
"You're changing what I said.
"I didn't say that there, at all.
"I said this here instead."

Then basso-voice Hugh Farr stalks in
Says, "Come on! Show some speed
We've got to get things rollin' here.
I mean the Tumbleweed.

Then Karl tunes up and starts to play
Some rattling cowboy conga
And when I ask him what the heck?
He just says, "tonga-tonga".

Then typing Lloyd's letters home
Can be an awful pain.
Each time he writes to Blossom
His tears fall just like rain.

And Pat won't get his column in.
His disposition's sweet
But when I say, "Let's go to work,"
Old Pat just says: "Let's eat."

And Bob takes all the letters home.
He reads them, I suppose,
But when I say, "Let's answer them",
He just looks up his nose.

But still with all my woes and fears
I wouldn't want to change
I wouldn't leave my Pioneers
Or home here on the range.


(Tumbleweed Topics, Vol 2 No 16, 1942)

 

After New York City, the Sons of the Pioneers signed for three weeks in Boston, then a 9-day stand in Buffalo, New York.  P-Nuts told Bill and Barbara Bowen that Bob Nolan was a regular "Pied Piper" on the road, too. Young fans would wait for their hero to leave New York's Madison Square Garden, follow him back to the Nolan's hotel room, and while Bob rested between performances at the Rodeo, the youngsters would pass the time till his return by quietly trying on his boots, hat and gun holster while P-Nuts patiently supervised. If playing "Bob Nolan" caused too much noise in the room while Bob napped, P-Nuts would take them to the hotel soda fountain for refreshments until Bob was ready to rejoin the Sons of the Pioneers and the children could follow him back to Madison Square Garden.

 

Roy Rogers presented New York City mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia, with a pair of silver spurs. They are watched by stuntwomen Polly Burson, Tad Lucas, Berenice Dossey, Mary Parks, Mildred Horner, Bill Clements, Everett Colburn, etc. Thomas Dewey is centre back at the top of the steps. (The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

 

Close-up of the same occasion. (The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

New York City mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia, with Roy Rogers, the Sons of the Pioneers and the rodeo winners.

(Internet image)

 

 Post Banquet party.

Left to right: Berenice Dossey, Tad Lucas, Polly Burson, Sally Rand.

Back: Carl Dossey, George Mills, Bob Nolan, Turk Greenough, Bill Liebesing, Harry Knight and Peggy Holmes.

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

Second Annual Convention for Rodeo Fans of America at the Hotel Belvedere on October 17, 1942

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

Bob with Foghorn Clancy, longtime rodeo announcer and promoter.

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

As we go to press (November 10th) the Sons of the Pioneers are in Boston makin' with the music for the Beantown Buckaroos at their big Rodeo. From there they shuffle off to Buffalo for 11 days, closing there November 21st. Then, back to Hollywood for two big budget Westerns with Roy Rogers to be called Idaho and King of the Cowboys. They're planning to use Bob's immortal Tumbling Tumbleweeds in one of 'em. (Sam Allen, p 2 Tumbleweed Topics, Vol 2 No 16, 1942)

 

Entertaining at New York City's Stage Door Canteen.

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

eBay image

 

Undated clipping from Private Collection

 

eBay image

 

The Sons of the Pioneers being interviewed by glamorous 1930s movie star Adrienne Ames who in 1942 was a radio commentator for New York City radio station WHN.

 

Beginning with the Republic picture, Sunset Serenade, the film credits read "Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers". Tim Spencer told Ken Griffis that the group felt that Nolan should be pushed to the front because he was a handsome, broad-shouldered cowboy type,  his signature songs were an integral part of the group's fame and, finally, his unusual voice was probably the best-known of all.

 

 

The Sons of the Pioneers Tour Season, 1943

    In 1943 Roy Rogers toured Canada, attended President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 61st birthday. On April 18, Arline presented Roy  with their first child, a daughter, Linda Lou. They had adopted a child, Cheryl, previous to this. Roy wrote a song in little Linda's honor. He was also featured on the cover of the July issue of Life magazine. He was voted number one Western star in polls conducted by various film magazines. (He kept that position until the polls ended in 1954.) Decca Records was selling 6,000 Roy Rogers records a week. The Double R Bar brand was designed for Roy by leather craftsman Bob Brown. He took part in the Sheriff's Rodeo at the coliseum in Los Angeles with other popular Hollywood stars. Billboards touted him as "King of the Cowboys" and he was voted the Number One Money Making Western Star of the Year. His rodeo circuit logged him 50,000 miles this year, seventy-five hundred US theaters were showing his pictures. He was backed this year not by the Sons of the Pioneers but by the Ranch Girls. The Sons of the Pioneers rode on the wave of his popularity with him.

 

Madison Square Garden Rodeo: 1943 Photos

 

 

Tim Spencer and Ken Carson

Courtesy of G S Thompson

 

Left: Terry Sevigny and Tim Spencer

Right: Ken Carson

Courtesy of G S Thompson

 

Martha Retsch and the Roy Rogers Fan Club executive (Massachusetts branch), Virginia Sullivan and Virginia Shaw, all in New York City that day for the rodeo.

Martha Retsch Collection

 

The Sons of the Pioneers with fan club president, Martha Retsch.

Sunday, October 10, 1943 at the Astor Hotel, New York City

(John Fullerton Collection)

 

(John Fullerton Collection)

 

Courtesy of G S Thompson

The 3 following photos were taken in 1943 at Madison Square Garden. Read articles from The Prairie Prattler by people who were there and described the Sons of the Pioneers' shows.

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

Bob and Tex Wilson.

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

1943 Madison Square Garden Rodeo: EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS

        To begin with, I received a special delivery air mail letter from Carol Weill of Republic Studios informing me that the Sons of the Pioneers would be appearing at the Madison Square Garden rodeo along with the King of the Cowboys - Roy Rogers. Right then and there I made up my mind I was going to go! So, after completing all arrangements and asking off from work, yours truly was on her way to the "big city".

        Arrived safe and sound and had the pleasure of meeting Dorothy and Madeline Pongratz of Brooklyn, right off the bat. We then went up to the Gardens to get our tickets for the Sunday show. After getting one set of tickets we decided we'd rather have better seats so turned them in and got box seats right up front so we could see everything. Didn't miss a thing, either. We then walked around for awhile and Mady and Dot had to leave. So I went back to the hotel and met another club member, Helen Schmuck.

        Left the hotel - on my own again - and took a chance and went to the Gardens. Had the good fortune to meet Bob Nolan and Karl Farr. Had the opportunity of talking to them for awhile and took two snaps of them. Then they had to leave for the show.

        Received a ticket for the Saturday evening performance and went up for the show. While going up with Helen Schmuck and her friends, we ran into Tim Spencer and had a little chat with him.

        Needless to say that the rodeo was very good - as it was. I enjoyed every minute of it. The Pioneers opened the show singing the tail end of TUMBLING TUMBLEWEEDS. Then Bob took the lead in TEXAS PLAINS. Ken "Shorty" Carson - the new man - took over in WHEN MY BLUE MOON TURNS TO GOLD AGAIN and very good, too. Pat had the audience howling with his version of YOU TELL HER, I STUTTER. Then Bob, Tim and Ken did EL RANCHO GRANDE and they finished with all of TUMBLING TUMBLEWEEDS. The applause was thunderous.

        Later on, Roy came on with Trigger and had him doing some tricks. Trigger acted a little ornery, though, and Roy had to coax him into doing the last trick. He finally consented to do it, though. Then after that, Roy and the Pioneers came out to sing. They started with RIDE 'EM COWBOY - dedicated to the rodeo. Roy then took over for HADIE BROWN and after that came the surprise of the evening. None other than that famous love song of today - PISTOL PACKIN' MAMA. The boys had their own verses and version and it was very cute. Roy then tried to beat the boys by callin' a square dance - and I'm still wondering who won. Anybody know? The last song on the list was HOME ON THE RANGE. Everyone was told to sing with them but one by one the Pioneers quit playing their instruments. Couldn't hear anyone, they said. Then the lights were turned off and Roy requested everyone to sing his loudest. While this was going on, the Pioneers quietly left the arena.

        After they were finished, I decided it was time I went backstage (or whatever you call it at a rodeo.) On the way there, I met Karl, who in turn introduced me to Ken Carson. I presented Ken with his honorary membership card and the two of us had quite a little chat. He is one swell person and fits right in with the boys. Ken and Hugh and I, and a few other girls and fellas, were watching the bull riding - and nearly had a bull sitting with us. Believe me, I was scared. Decided it would be safer in my seat then so I left but made arrangements to meet the boys at their hotel Sunday morning.

        Sunday morning bright and early I went down to the Paramount Hotel. Met Hugh first then Bob, Karl, Pat and Ken. There was to be a party at the Astor hotel that afternoon and I was invited to attend. Karl, Pat and Ken had to go to the Gardens for their instruments so Bob and I waited for Tim with Bob looking at my photo album in the meantime. When Tim finally arrived, the three of us walked up to the Astor which was about two blocks away. While going up, Tim was affronted [confronted] twice by a little boy who thought he was Roy Rogers.

        The party was very nice and for the entertainment, Roy and the Pioneers sang RIDE 'EM COWBOY and PISTOL PACKIN' MAMA. While there, I met the Ranch Boss of Mass. of Roy's club and her sister - Virginia and Claire Sullivan. Hugh introduced me and through the introduction I got two new members for the club. Hugh then decided he was going to recruit new members.

        After the party, Ken, Pat and I went to the rodeo by cab. Enjoyed the second performance as well as the first. When the rodeo was over, we went back to the Astor Hotel for the Fan Club party. Had the opportunity of meeting quite a few members there and only wish I could have had the opportunity of talking to all of them a little longer. Also got nine new members while there.

        After everything quieted down, the Pioneers were introduced and Bob started off with HAPPY COWBOY. Then Karl and Hugh Farr did an instrumental duet followed by Pat doing a little dancing while singing WHAT ABOUT WALLA WALLA? Roy was called on then and he and the Pioneers did IDAHO and SMILES ARE MADE OUT OF SUNSHINE from Man from Music Mountain. Then RHYTHM ON THE RANGE, I'M THINKING TONIGHT OF MY BLUE EYES, PISTOL PACKIN' MAMA and they finished up with WHEN YOUR HEART'S ON EASY STREET which is from Hands Across the Border.

        By the time those songs were finished, there was a few more autographs to be signed and all the boys were on their way back to the Gardens for the evening show. That was the end of a perfect day because by that time it was time for me to leave, also.

        I only hope that everyone that got a chance to see the rodeo had as good a time as I did and that all of you get a chance to meet the Pioneers personally. (Martha Retsch, pp 3-4, Prairie Prattler Vol 1 No 3, 1943)

 

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            This is the first time I've ever been to a rodeo and I can say that it lived up to all of my expectations. It was all so very exciting. The boys' songs were very very good and they kept everyone entertained. Then actually meeting them after the rodeo was really something. They acted so natural while we were talking to them. I didn't hear one refuse to give an autograph. I think they're TOPS. Had a chance to talk to all the Pioneers. Can't wait until the next time they come East. (Sonia Haverlak, Box 321 Nurses' Residence, Kings Co. Hospital, Brooklyn 3, NY.)

 

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            Got the chance to go to New York for the rodeo and it was swell. Saw The Pioneers and Roy Rogers. Was sorry I didn't get a chance to talk to all of them but did get Pat Brady's autograph on my membership card and I think he's swell, and very good looking. We had a good time and are looking forward to going again - soon. (Mrs. Martha Walker, Mill Hall, Pennsylvania.)

 

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            We went the first night and was sitting where the Sons come out to sing. Well, before the rodeo, we were talking to them and, gee, it was swell. Hugh Farr was talking to us for quite a long time. He's really nice and even if he didn't know us, he was willing to answer all our questions and be as friendly as anything. It was wonderful and, in my opinion, the Sons of the Pioneers are the most friendliest fellows I ever met. Gee, they're SWELL. (Muriel Klaas, 302 N Prospect St, Dumont, NJ)

 

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            Was glad to get a chance to meet you. Katheryn Swanger and I had a fine day and loved every minute of it. Had the opportunity of meeting all the boys. Bob is still my favorite. Tim and Pat are grand - in fact, I felt that I'd known Tim all my life. Never dreamed Karl was so handsome. Liked Shorty a lot and, altho I didn't get much of a chance to talk to Hugh, think he's swell. In fact, thought they all were swell. Enjoyed meeting Roy and Arline Rogers, too. All in all, it was a grand show and a lovely party and I'll never forget it. (Grace M. Laird, 100 W Spring St, Reading, PA.)

 

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            I guess I'll never get over the thrills and spills of the rodeo. It was grand and I had such a good time. I got to meet all the Sons and got all their autographs. Ken thought he knew me and I couldn't convince him he didn't. I'll never forget the thrill of having my picture taken with Roy Rogers and then meeting Mrs. Rogers. Was very sorry I had to leave when I did. (Virginia Shaw, Route 2, Allentown, PA)

 

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            After saying I wasn't going to NY, I went anyhow. Ruth Trotter, her mother, Patsy and I went up on the 23rd. Got to meet all of the boys and they remembered us from last year. This is the first year I actually saw a whole show. Met the boys outside their hotel and got some good snaps of them. Patsy really enjoyed herself a lot. (Blanche Linton, 519 N. Howard St., Allentown, PA)

 

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            I got to go to the rodeo, after all. Although I didn't get a chance to meet the Pioneers in person, I sure enjoyed their act. thought Ken Carson replaced Lloyd very well but I still missed Lloyd. I think they sing better in person than in the movies. Liked the act Roy and Trigger put on, too. The whole darn bunch of them are tops with me. Everything worked out perfect and I'm very much satisfied. (Joyce Cranstoun, p. 5, Prairie Prattler Vol 1 No 3, 1943)

 

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              Spoke to Bob Nolan first and he's very friendly. Told me they got a thrill out of having everyone cheer for them. He's very friendly and got acquainted with all of us there, although he only spoke a few words. Pat Brady is another man of few words. Got his autograph along with Bob's and when I asked Pat if I could shake hands with him, he agreed. Said, "My, what nice smooth hands you have." That really got me and I started to laugh so much Tim Spencer wanted to know what the matter was. Tim and Ken Carson are very nice, too. Met Roy and Arline and they showed me a couple snaps of the children. (Amy p 7, Prairie Prattler Vol 1 No 3, 1943)

 

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1943 THE RODEO BANQUET (Rodeo Fans of America 3rd Annual Banquet)

        I arrived in pouring rain and discovered the hotel was 20 blocks away. Decided to hop a cab but, after 30 minutes and no cab in sight, decided to take the subway. It put me off a block and a half from the hotel and I walked the  rest. Wonder what the hotel personnel thought when I came into the lobby - water pouring off my cowgirl hat in a stream, soaking wet, and my boots so wet I was skidding all over the tile floor. Didn't have time to change before the evening show so had to go in the wet things.

        Expected to wake up with a cold next day but felt fine. Saturday morning just toured around, met some cowboy friends outside the Gardens and fooled around until show time. Went down to Roy's dressing room to see him. Saw all the Pioneers there and met Ken Carson for the first time and like him a lot. A real thrill for me, though, was meeting Mrs. Rogers. Nobody introduced us at first and we just stood around talking when someone says, "Oh, did you meet Mrs. Rogers?" and I nearly fainted.

        After the afternoon show I was off for the [Rodeo Fans of America 3rd Annual] banquet. Knocked around for about an hour seeing rodeo friends, then supper started. The tables were separate instead of a long one this year. At the speaker's table were all the Pioneers, Roy and his wife, the officials and various other stars of the rodeo - and Mr. Jones. He's advertising manager for Roy, now.

        Bob arrived for dinner late and discovered they'd left no chair for him. Poor Bob. He always seems to be getting left out. Everything was finally straightened out, though. During supper, another cowboy band played till the speeches and introductions began. Roy spilled something down the front of him and the table I was at clapped and yelled, "Take it off!" until the whole room was in an uproar. All the Pioneers were introduced separately - Pat as the "man with the only face of its kind in the world." Ken did WHEN MY BLUE MOON TURNS TO GOLD AGAIN  during the banquet, accompanied by the other cowboy band.

        The evening performance was just as grand as the others were. After the show, I scooted back to the banquet and dance. At the dance, I saw more of the Pioneers than I ever have. Our table was right next to the platform where the boys performed and all of them occupied our table at one time or another. Hugh Farr, Pat, Tim and Roy all asked me to dance but I was so darn tired I refused them. I had just as much fun watching everyone dance.

        Pat Brady kept me in such hysterics I was half in tears. The dance band didn't show up and the Pioneers were asked to play and, although they were practically tired out, they consented. Pat clowned all by himself so I missed quite a bit of the other playing - he did NO-GOOD SON-OF-A-GUN.

        There was an old man that played on a saw with a bow and he sure did have stage fright. Pat got one of his bows when he wasn't looking and proceeded to draw it across his bass fiddle every few seconds, making the most horrible groans. Nobody in the room could tell where they were coming from and the poor old man nearly died of annoyance and then Pat hid his bow and the poor guy got embarrassed trying to find it.

        By this time, Roy showed up and Tim announced they were going from the ridiculous (meaning Pat who just finished singing) to the sublime. After that, the other band showed up and both they and the Pioneers played for a square dance with Roy calling it and running it from one end and Tim taking over on the other end.

        Drifted over to the Rogers' table and stayed there until Roy was ready to leave. After that I circulated around, chatting with other friends, and by that time it was in the wee hours of the morning and I decided it was best to say goodnight and head for the hotel. So, guess I'll say goodbye and head for the home corral right now. Until later. (Joan Fell, p. 6, Prairie Prattler Vol 1 No 3, 1943)

 

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Madison Square Garden Rodeo: 1943 PROGRAM

 

eBay image

 

1943 Official Program
World's Championship Rodeo
Madison Square Garden
New York City


Music Furnished by James Cimmeron's Cowboy Band
"Tumbling Tumbleweeds"
Bob Nolan and "Sons of the Pioneers"
Grand Entry and Introduction of Officials
Cowboys' Bareback Bronc Riding Contest
Horseback Quadrille
ROY ROGERS AND TRIGGER
Cowboys' Calf Roping
Cowboys' Trick and Fancy Roping Exhibition
Cowboys' Saddle Bronc Riding Contest
"Home on the Range" starring ROY ROGERS with the Ranch Girls
Cowboys' Steer Wrestling Contest
Ken Boen and "The Old Grey Mare"
Cowboys' Wild Cow Milking Contest
Cowboys' and Cowgirls' Trick and Fancy Riding Exhibition
Introduction and Presentation of Trophies to the 1943 Champions
Cowboys' Wild Brahma Bull riding Contest
Cavalcade of Men Who Made America

NB: Contest in boldface type. Program for October 31. From the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Program p. 136, Cowgirls of the Rodeo by Mary Lou LeCompte.

 

Madison Square Garden Rodeo: 1943 CONTESTANTS

Courtesy of Theresa Sevigny Scott

 

Courtesy of Theresa Sevigny Scott

 

Boston Garden Rodeo

Roy Rogers, on his birthday (Nov. 5), presented with a birthday cake by Virginia Sullivan of Waterton at the Boston Garden Rodeo

eBay photo

 

Washington, DC

 

Meeting James Cagney at the President's Birthday Ball, Washington, DC

eBay photo

 

Unsorted 1943 Tour photos

Calin Coburn Collections ©2004

 

 The Sons of the Pioneers continued to entertain the troops while the war was on, prepared to go if they were called up. Gene Autry had  enlisted right away and was stationed at Luke Field in Phoenix, Arizona. He worked on base during the day then was able to spend his nights with his wife, Ida, at the Adams Hotel. He still did a Sunday radio program called "Sergeant Gene Autry" which was controlled by the Army as a public relations and recruiting venue. On the program he was backed by Johnny Bond, Carl Cotner, Jimmy and Eddie Dean. Here, early in 1943 before Lloyd and Pat enlisted, the Pioneers, Roy and Gene appeared on radio together.

 

Left to right: Bob Nolan with Pat Brady to his left, Lloyd Perryman, Tim Spencer, Hugh Farr, Karl Farr, Roy Rogers, unknown, Shug Fisher behind Gene Autry, Eddie and Jimmy Dean with Carl Cotner between them.

(eBay photo)

 

(eBay photo)

 

(Courtesy of Fred Sopher)

 

 

 

(Courtesy of Fred Sopher)

 

Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers with Paul Whiteman

 

During the War, the Armed Forces Radio Services (AFRS) featured a number of Pioneer recordings including cuts from previous radio shows. These programs (Melody Roundup) were hosted by guest stars and dedicated to servicemen. Bob, when asked later what fan mail made the deepest impression on him, answered, "From the Submarine boys during the war, who played our transcriptions while lying on the bottom, waiting for the enemy."

 

 

As early as 1940 the War Department was using short-wave radio broadcasts to inform and educate Americans overseas. In 1941 entertainment was added the mix. Departing troops were issued "B" kits ("B" for "Buddy") that consisted of radios, phonographs, 10-inch shellac 78-rpm phonograph records and 12-inch 33-rpm transcription discs of popular radio shows. Within 3 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the War Department began producing original variety shows to beef-up troop morale beginning with Command Performance. Command Performance had an interesting purpose. The enlisted men would request entertainers they wanted to hear and the artists were commanded to record a show for them. The Sons of the Pioneers gave of their talent freely and gladly to do what they could to encourage and support the men who were fighting for them.
 

The Armed Forces Radio Services was formally established 26 May 1942 to generate additional programming for the troops. Initially AFRS programming included mostly transcribed commercial network radio shows such as the Kraft Music Hall with the commercials removed. Soon numerous original AFRS programs such as Mail Call were added to the mix. At its peak in 1945 the AFRS was generating about 20 hours of original programming each week. The AFRS could command the services of the best writers and performers without regard to their network or studio contractual obligations. It was on Command Performance, for example, that the Sons of the Pioneers were paired in song with Frank Sinatra. And the AFRS got these services for free. These programs were broadcast to the troops overseas, and usually were not heard by Americans at home. (From Command Performance USA! A Discography compiled by Harry MacKenzie, Greenwood Press, 1996 and Brass Button Broadcasters by Trent Christman, Turner Publishing, 1992.)
 

 

The range of programs the AFRS covered was immense and during the war years, particularly, the emphasis was on entertainment. Popular and classical music and comedy and drama shows were rebroadcast over AFRS stations all over the world. The AFRS also produced many programs designed to inform and educate.

 

Shug Fisher, Hugh Farr, Bob Nolan, Roy Rogers, Tim Spencer, Karl Farr and Ken Carson, 1944

(The Martha Retsch Collection)

 

Karl E. Farr Collections

 

 

1943 Ken has replaced Lloyd and Pat doesn't leave until June.

Private collection

 

(Courtesy of Fred Sopher)

 

And so the war intruded and changed every life. Bob's draft status was 3-A at this point. Although he didn't go into the active military, he did do much for the war effort at home by selling war bonds with the Pioneers and Roy, entertaining the troops freely, donating his time to make radio transcriptions for them, etc. Lloyd left in April of 1943 for the Pacific and was replaced by Ken Carson. Pat Brady left in June for Europe with Patton's Third Army. Deuce Spriggins and then Shug Fisher replaced Pat both on the bull fiddle and as group comic. Lloyd and Pat were sorely missed but the Sons of the Pioneers kept up their paychecks for the duration of the war.

 

  War bonds autographed by the Sons of the Pioneers on the back.

 

(Back: Hugh and Karl Farr. Front: Ken Carson, Tim, Bob and Shug Fisher)

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)  

 

(John Fullerton Collection)

 

(John Fullerton Collection)

 

The following group of photos from the Calin Coburn Collections was taken between April 1943 when Lloyd was called up and June when Pat was drafted. The lady in the first two is unidentified but may be a "local personage" photographed with them on one of their appearances.

 

On tour somewhere with an unidentified lady.

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

Back: Ken Carson, Karl Farr

Front: Hugh Farr, Bob Nolan, Deuce Spriggins and Tim Spencer

(John Fullerton Collection)

 

Private Collection

 

Bob Nolan

(John Fullerton Collection)

 

 

Back: Bob Nolan, Hugh Farr, Karl Farr and Deuce Spriggins.

Front: Tim Spencer, Roy Rogers and Ken Carson

(Courtesy of Fred Sopher)

 

(The Jan Scott Collection)

 

Back: Hugh Farr, Karl Farr and Deuce Spriggins

Front: Bob Nolan, Tim Spencer and Ken Carson

(Courtesy of  Bruce Hickey)

 

(The Jan Scott Collection)

 

(The Jan Scott Collection)

 

Back: Hugh, Bob and Ken Carson. Front: Shug, Karl and Tim.

(John Fullerton Collection)

 

The Sons of the Pioneers toured Canada this year (1943) as well as the armed forces bases in Texas, the Eastern USA while they continued to work hard on radio, screen and stage but they occasionally made time to play - or else it was suggested by the studio photographer for public relations. Their popularity grew with their radio transcriptions, radio shows, recordings, public appearances and the movies. The following is a handout from one of their shows.

 

 

Baby shower for Buddie Perryman. 

Right to left: Buddie (Mrs Lloyd) Perryman, seated, Velma (Mrs. Tim) Spencer, Mae (Mrs. Karl) Farr,

P-Nuts (Mrs. Bob) Nolan, Rosita (Mrs. Hugh) Farr, Fayetta (Mrs. Pat) Brady, Claudina (Fayetta's twin sister),

Fern (Mrs. Sam) Allen, Peggy (Mrs. Shug) Fisher, Margo (friend of Fern's).

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

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