Rose and Chuck - 2018 photo.
In memory of my dear wife Rose.
Rose was a cheerleader, and always encouraged me to to do this here website. In 2015, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery followed by radiation and chemo. Checkups over the next couple years were good ... until late 2018. The cancer had returned and she passed away on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019.
Above - New Jersey, March, 1949 on my 6th birthday. I got that cowboy hat at Madison Square Garden and it was made out of a paper mache type material. Got caught in the rain and it dissolved right on my head. I was heart broken.
April, 1966 - 23 years old and at Fort Knox, Kentucky for Army basic training.
I was born March 4, 1943, and our home was in Cranford, New Jersey. Around the age of six or seven, I recall seeing Gene Autry and Champion at Madison Square Garden. In late 1949, my father had a job transfer to Atlanta and our family settled in Tucker, Georgia. Tucker was definitely rural and we had a couple acres of property, lots of pine trees, a dirt driveway, Bermuda grass, well water, and a fuel oil furnace that didn't put out much heat. I still chuckle when I think about my Mom, who was an avid gardener, trying to get stuff to grow in that durn Georgia clay.
During the 1950s, I spent many weekends at local movie houses watching a variety of films. The first western that I recall was SONG OF OLD WYOMING (PRC, 1945), a Cinecolor yarn starring singer Eddie Dean, Al "Lash" LaRue and pretty Jennifer Holt. It was paired up on a double-feature with one of the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan adventures. Other B-westerns that I enjoyed at the theaters included Jimmy Wakely, Whip Wilson, Rocky Lane, and most all of the Columbia flicks with Gene Autry. A favorite was Autry's RIDERS IN THE SKY (Columbia, 1949) and it was decades later when I was able to identify Tom London as the old timer who passes ... and becomes a member of the ghost riders.
Of course, there were lots of other films and series such as the Bowery Boys, the Lex Barker and Gordon Scott Tarzans, and scores of cheapy 1950s sci-fi movies. On several of my birthdays, my father took me into Atlanta to the Fox Theater for an A grade film, and on the return drive home, we'd stop for a box of those wunnerful Krispy Kreme donuts. I also recall going to a drive-in theater with my folks - I think it was named the 'Scott Drive-In'. But we didn't see many westerns there as Mom and Pop just weren't interested in them. Great memories ... of course, my recollections are based on the tail end of the genre, as B westerns and serials were in a rapid decline during the early 1950s.
In the early days of TV, many of the films that were shown on the Atlanta stations were westerns and serials. I can remember the Tom Tyler series from Victory and Reliable ... many of the Mascot cliffhangers ... Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon ... there were lots of Bob Steele ... and a young John Wayne rode the dusty trail in Lone Star westerns done by producer Paul Malvern. Also on TV were a bunch of Republic films, such as the excellent Bill Elliott/Red Ryder series. The Hopalong Cassidys from Paramount were also playing on the little box, and William Boyd became popular again and developed a half-hour Hoppy show specifically for TV. And I do remember the fuzzy (soft) prints of Tom Keene's RKO oaters that were on the little tube under the C&C Television banner. Overall, this was pretty exciting viewing for a youngster who played cowboy in his back yard with the neighbor kids. Even had a Hopalong Cassidy gun/holster set and a genuine Daisy "Red Ryder" BB gun (both of which got lost or tossed during our moves or my growing up).
The first TV set that we had was an Emerson console with a really small picture tube. It didn't last very long - it got fried from a lightning strike during a Georgia thunderstorm. My Dad and I were at an Atlanta "Crackers" baseball game, and when we arrived home, the Emerson had been pushed out on the front porch by my mother ... and it was still smokin'. And I vaguely recall a little terrier pooch that was the test pattern logo for one of the Atlanta TV stations (was that station WAGA-TV?).
Another job transfer occurred with my father in 1960 and we moved to Northwest Indiana, about an hour SE of Chicago. During that move, my comic book collection got lost or thrown away. It didn't matter at that time, as I was a senior in High School and more interested in girls, sports and hot rod cars.
After college time at Ball State and Indiana University, I went to work for "Ma Bell", and this included about 25 years in the Illinois Bell and Ameritech offices in the Chicago Loop. Most of my time was involved in systems development and design, computer operations, computer programming, etc. For the last ten years or so of my formal career, I had responsibility for sumthin' new (at that time) called "End User Computing". EUC was (is) personal computers, e-mail, LANs, servers, etc. I retired in the early 1990s with about thirty years of service.
There was also active and reserve Army service. In 1966, I was at Fort Knox, Kentucky for Basic Training followed by Advanced Individual Training (AIT) as a Combat Engineer at "Little Korea", Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. In '67, I trained at the Jungle Operations Training Center (JOTC) at Fort Sherman, Panama Canal. I was an M79 Grenade Launcher instructor, a Combat Engineer squad leader, an NCO Academy instructor, and a Staff Sergeant (SSG) E-6 when I got my discharge papers.
I had the desire to collect 16mm films, but the costs were prohibitive. However, I was able to purchase an old Bell & Howell 16mm manual feed projector, and one of the first movies that I acquired was Tex Ritter's WESTBOUND STAGE (Monogram, 1939), one of Tex's better adventures. I also had a Super8 movie camera for personal use (in those prehistoric days before videotape), as well as a Minolta 8mm/Super8 projector. I picked up some 8mm/Super8 silent films from companies like Walton and Blackhawk, and these included Ken Maynard, Laurel & Hardy, etc. I also began collecting posters, lobby cards, and various photos from serials and westerns. I concentrated on lobby cards, simply because they were less expensive and easier to store vs. posters. And that's one of the reasons that you'll find many lobby card images on the Old Corral.
When the Beta and VHS videotape machines came out, I was thrilled and eagerly purchased the new technology, a Quasar brand VHS mqchine that weighs about fifty pounds (and I still have it and it works). The first commercial tape that I bought was from a wonderful company named Nostalgia Merchant. It was a double feature of PRC westerns, Eddie Dean in CARAVAN TRAIL (in Cinecolor) and Lash LaRue in CHEYENNE TAKES OVER. The first serial on tape that I purchased was/is one of my favorites, ZORRO RIDES AGAIN (Republic, 1937) with John Carroll (and Yakima Canutt doing the stuntwork).
In the early 1980s, I began writing about serials and B-westerns. I had a long run of articles in Norm Kietzer's Favorite Westerns magazine. I did some articles for Rob Tucker's Memory Lane magazine and for John Hagner at the Stuntmen's Hall of Fame. And there were dozens of articles under my byline of "The Tape Trail" for a great guy named Sam Rubin who was the editor and boss of the monthly Classic Images newspaper. I've also did some writing and research for Republic expert Jack Mathis (who authored the astounding Valley of the Cliffhangers and other books).
And for those serial fans who might remember, I tried to put together a proposal in the early 1980s to get the Allan Lane KING OF THE MOUNTIES and KING OF THE ROYAL MOUNTED cliffhangers onto videotape. That venture failed because we couldn't obtain enough financial support (though a more recent effort did succeed in bringing these lost serials out on DVD).
I've been lucky enough to chat with and interview some nice people who were part of western and serial history. Among them were Buster Crabbe (very cooperative, helpful, a real gentleman), Ed Finney (director/producer of many of Tex Ritter's westerns), and Mascot boss/owner Nat Levine. I also fondly recall many visits and chats with a sweet lady named Alice Ball who was a friend of my parents and brother. Her father was Frank Ball, a grey-haired, older gentlemen with a great voice who did bit parts and supporting roles, primarily in Bob Steele westerns of the late 1930s which were produced by A. W. Hackel, initially at Hackel's Supreme Pictures and later distributed by Republic. Alice had never seen her dad in a western, so I made a bunch of videotapes for her and she was thrilled. As we chatted, I made notes and compiled a bio/history on her dad and family. Alas - I did that on a Commodore 64 computer which bit the dust decades ago, and I guess I never printed a copy of his bio for my files.
The magazine article that I'm proudest of authoring was a two-parter titled "Galloping Dynamite, the Saga of Kermit Maynard" which I penned for Favorite Westerns magazine in the 1980s. Research included many telephone calls, US mail messages, and visits with Edith Maynard, a very nice and gracious lady and the wife of stuntman/supporting actor Kermit (the brother of Ken Maynard). Among Edith's close friends were stuntman Cliff Lyons and Yakima Canutt and his wife Audrea.
After retirement, I wound up doing a lot of personal computer and networking work for friends, neighbors, and relatives. Those efforts lead to more formal (paid) PC and network consulting and website development for businesses, churches, and schools.
Still loving ol' westerns and serials, I decided to put up a website about those films and the faces that appeared on the flickering screen. My rationale was simple - while there were a lot of good and bad books on these old films, when I queried the Internet via Search Engines, there were only a few websites devoted to serials and the B-western. Having some time available in the Spring/Summer of 1998, I fulfilled that goal with a writeup on Chief Thunder Cloud. Then I put up pages on the various "Trigger Trios" (Mesquiteers, Range Busters, Rough Riders, etc).
The Old Corral has expanded dramatically over the years. Still won't do advertising, there's no commercial sponsors, and no banner ads, pop-ups, or pop-unders. No one underwrites the website costs. And no donations required or requested. Annual costs for the website and domain name amounts to several hundred dollars a year, and I foot the bill. That's my fair share toward "remembering the B-western".
The website is large - as of March, 2020, there's over 1200 webpages.
My family lives in Indiana, about an hour from Chicago. Daughter Laura graduated from Purdue and works for an advertising agency in Chicago. Son Craig is an Army veteran, graduated from St. Joseph's College in Indiana, manages a local airport, and has two children, Ethan and Lilly. Son Mike graduated from Purdue, is the manager at a local steel supplier, and he and wife Claudia have two children, Isabella and Gabe. Mike and Claudia are prolific runners, and both have completed Chicago Marathons.
Time really flies!
March 26, 2020
Some folks have asked for background and details on the Old Corral website.
Boilerplate: this is a non-profit, non-commercial fansite, with nothing for sale, and no revenues or profit. The Old Corral is NOT an online business or 'store' - we don't sell videos, posters, lobby cards or photos. There are no banner advertisements or link exchange ads, nor are we part of any money-making 'associates' or 'referral' programs with click-thru ads or icons that take you to other websites to purchase books, CDs, videos, etc. In other words, no remuneration of any kind is received in connection with the operation of this site. No one underwrites the website costs. And no donations are required or requested. Annual costs for the website and domain name amounts to several hundred dollars a year - and that's my fair share toward "remembering the B-western".
The period of time which I've arbitrarily chosen to cover is roughly 1929 - 1954, give or take a year or so. Thus, you will NOT find heroes who rode the cinema trails of the silent era only - like William S. Hart, Fred Thomson and Art Acord. However, Tom Mix, Ken Maynard, Harry Carey, Buck Jones, and others who were successful in both silent and sound oaters, will be covered since some or a lot of their screen time occurred in "talkies".
The initial webpages on the Old Corral went online in the Spring/Summer of 1998 when everyone was on slow, dial-up modems.
I've received many requests to expand the Old Corral beyond the B western orientation - i.e., add TV westerns, A westerns, "spaghetti westerns", etc., and have pages on Randolph Scott, Richard Dix, Joel McCrea, Rory Calhoun, Audie Murphy, John Payne, Richard Arlen, Dick Jones, Guy Madison, James Arness, James Garner, Clint Walker, Dale Robertson, and lots of others. While I support that idea, it won't be me that does this. There's a limit to my endurance ... and I do have to sleep occasionally.
My personal rules and guidelines for the Old Corral are:
March 26, 2020