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The Sons of the Pioneers Tour Season, 1943


This page is provided for reference only. Dated photos have been gathered from different sources.


Tour of the State of Texas (February 1943)


Madison Square Garden 18th Annual Rodeo (October 1943)

        Photos & Snapshots

        Eyewitness Accounts

        3rd Annual Rodeo Fans of America Banquet

        1943 Program



Boston Garden Rodeo


Washington, DC


Unsorted 1943 Tour Photos





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


Standing: Hugh Farr, Martha Retsch (Fan club president), Karl Farr and Bob Nolan

Front: Pat Brady, Tim Spencer and Ken Carson

Martha Retsch Collection


Reverse side of previous photo

Martha Retsch Collection


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



Courtesy of G S Thompson


Left & Centre: Bob Nolan, courtesy of Courtesy of G S Thompson

Right: Bob and "Tex" Wilson Courtesy of Calin Coburn Collections 2004


Calin Coburn Collections 2004



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)




            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.)




            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.)




            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)




            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.)




            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)




            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)




            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)




              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)





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)




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
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)