Lest the West

Cabbages & Kings

A rodeo is something that has to be smelled to be believed. The World's championship Rodeo in Boston Garden is wholly credible. From the incongruous bars of "Yours' to the closing "yowees" of the wild horse race, Boston Garden is a real, wild corral. All the best broncs are there: country Butter, Sling Shot, Pig Eye, Drunkard, and the best rides and the prettiest girls. Also The Range Rider and his Saddle Pal. The Range Rider wears blue suede shoes.

Back in the barns, where the hockey players usually dress, the horses and their riders prance nervously about. "Steady, Atomic Action," says one cowpoke. The horse does not reply. Suddenly the signal is given for The Grand Entry and Introduction of Officials, and out into the Arena gallop hundreds and hundreds of horses and riders. Some horse and riders move as one unit, and some riders are glued into the saddle. All the flags of the old west gleam in bright pastels. Round and round the arena they go, criss-crossing and yelling and screaming. Unfortunately, one rider falls of and walks back to the barns, shaking his head sadly.

Make no mistake, except for a few exceptions, these are real cowboys. Most are from Texas, and none are form New England. Each event snacks of realism, and it is very real in Event No. Four when a steer wrestler gets gored in the midriff. The Brahma bulls are pretty tough to ride, too, and they come charging down the sidelines roaring and throwing their horns about. Customers eight feet above the corral are warned to keep their fingers and toes inside, "No telling what one of these bulls will do. Keep your children back!" says the announcer.

Byron Hendricks, who has a moustache, has brought in his Hollywood move dogs, three German shepherds, a poodle, and a wire-haired terrier. They all do various tricks like jumping on a moving horse and playing skip rope together. This is comic relief and the dogs are talented and very cute. The Valkyries, three cowgirls, do a Roman Jumping Act on five or six white horses, and then, after the calf-roping contest, it is time for The range Rider (Jack Mahoney) and his Saddle Pal (Dick West).

Like Byron Hendricks and his dogs, The Range Rider jumps on a horse, but he does it three ways under a spotlight. Saddle Pal is a stooge who tries to do all the things that Range rider does but just thumps against the horse's side. After each mounting he looks around at the crowd, and shouts, "Well, howdya like the Cavalry split-the neck mount? Didya like it HUH?" Everybody yells and claps and the Ranger Rider mounts another way (which I forget what they call). This goes on for a while and the range rider and saddle Pal stage a fight. Then they ride around the arena and throw their hats to the people that have applauded the most. This is the feature attraction.