Bill Ladd’s Almanac

Now it can be told: Autry’s benefit show for March of Dimes is coming January 30

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Probably the largest teaser ad in history appeared in last Sunday’s carrier-Journal.

The thing ran pretty wide and even deeper, and dealt with me impending appearance of Gene Autry, Smiley Burnett, Champion and Little Champ, the Jemez Indians from New Mexico and numerous other attractions.

They will be here for two shows, Half the proceeds going to the March of Dimes fund. Shows are 2 and 8 p.m.

Aside from that, you had your choice, according to the ad. No dates.

Well, we carried on great research, consisting of opening our mail from Florian E. “Sandy” Wood, in order to find out when the show was going to be here.

At Last, The Dates

The date, we find, is January 30.

Autry does a television show weekly, and the film of this opera is telecast over WAVE-TV on Sunday afternoons. We have recently we have not exposed ourselves to it recently, having been confused by Hopalong Cassidy, “Gabby” Hayes and other ersatz cowboys to the point where we felt we were up here in cow opera and couldn’t go on.

The Autry films which are used on TV originate at a place called Pioneertown, Cal. This is only 30 miles from Palm Springs, where the wealthy stars will in their lucre. Thus in a mere mirror 30 miles, you can watch the stars at their various activities from whatever goes on in Palm Springs to seeing Autry kissing his horse and going off into each setting sun.

Pioneertown has some 75 souls, These double as weedy rustlers, murderers, fair maiden-slayers and worse during the day. At night they repair to Los Angeles, Hollywood and possibly Palm Springs, Where they are said to be very kind to their mothers.

There’s Tumbleweed, Too

Pioneertown was built about three years ago in the image of a frontier joint from about 1880, and is used for a locale of movies. There are some 80 acres in the limits, and tumbleweed is sent to tumble about alleged streets.

Dries and cracked arroyos are stashed about, pine forests, cactus (not Tom Brooks) and sagebrush. The only compromise with mid-twentieth century is a juke box in the Golden Stallion. On this are placed some of Mr. Autry’s more sensational records. He can be heard bleating about getting back to the saddle at most hours of the day and night.

No automobiles are allowed in town. It is believed that a cayuse started out on his day’s work chasing down an 1880 rustler or being just by his chauffeur would be out of place alongside some extra hand’s 1951 convertible.

Take Your Choice

In the center of the street is a rock trough. The horses drink here, though their operators prefer to Golden Stallion, having become immune to Mr. Autry’s vocal art. In the middle of the trough is a pole with a weighty confusion of signs pointing off into all directions. It says, for instance that Cape Horn is 7,000 miles; Cheyenne, 1,211; Sutter’s Creek ( or crick as in your back) 486; Virginia City, 529; Chisholm Trail, 1,196; Dodge City, 1,300, and Tombstone, 496.

No mention is made here of Palm Springs–or, for that matter, of Hollywood, which fathered the joint, although Pioneertown looks older than the old man.

There is a bowling palace with A.B.C.- approved alleys where the cowpokes can shoot the ten pin when it hangs. A Post Office was opened in the bowling alley last year.

Mr. Wood thinks this would be of interest to our reader. He thinks the March of Dimes-should have a mention in our “august” column.

But will it do any good to wait until August?

The show is January 30.

Jan. 20, 1951 - The Courier Journal article clipping