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.
Chuck and wife Rose - November, 2011 photo.
About Chuck Anderson, the Old Corral Curator and Webmaster
I was born March 4, 1943, and our home was in Cranford, New Jersey. Around the age of five or six, I vividly recall seeing Gene Autry and Champion at Madison Square Garden. In late 1949, my father had a job transfer and the family moved to Tucker, Georgia (near Stone Mountain). Tucker was definitely rural at that time, 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 can 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 from Gene Autry. 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-feature, 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', and 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 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 ... most 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 Cassidy flicks from Paramount were also playing on the little box, and William Boyd became so popular again, that he 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 was out on the front porch, still smokin'. I vaguely recall a little terrier pooch that was the logo in the test pattern for one of the Atlanta TV stations (was the station WAGA-TV?).
Another job transfer occurred with my father in 1961 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, distributed computing, etc. I retired in the early 1990s with about thirty years of service.
There was military service time. 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 attended the Jungle Operations Training Center (JOTC) at Fort Sherman, Panama Canal. I was an M-79 Grenade Launcher instructor, a Combat Engineer squad leader, and NCO Academy instructor.
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 in VHS 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 --- 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 done some writing and research work 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 through Republic. Alice, who passed away a several years ago, had never seen her Dad in a western, so I made a bunch of videotapes for her and she was really pleased. As she chatted, I made notes and compiled a bio/history on her dad and family. Alas, I did this on a Commodore 64 computer which bit the dust a couple decades ago, and I guess I never printed a copy of his bio for my files.
The 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 the close friends of Edith were stuntman Yak Canutt and his wife as well as stuntman Cliff Lyons.
After retirement, I wound up doing a lot of PC work for friends, neighbors, relatives. Those efforts lead to more formal (paid) PC and networking consulting and website development for businesses 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 are 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 webpage on Chief Thunder Cloud. Soonafter, I put up pages on the various "Trigger Trios" (Mesquiteers, Range Busters, et al).
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 new site and domain name amounts to a couple hundred dollars a year, and I foot the bill. That's my fair share toward "remembering the B-western".
Wife Rosemary and I live in Indiana, and in November, 2012, we celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary. Daughter Laura is 28, graduated from Purdue University, and works at a museum in Chicago. Our oldest son Craig is a U.S. Army veteran, graduated from St. Joseph's College in Indiana, manages a local airport, and is married to a great gal named Paula - and they have 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 (who we call "Mr. Mischievous"). Mike and Claudia are prolific runners, and both completed the 2012 Chicago Marathon.
Time really flies!
Updated: January 4, 2013
About the Old Corral website
Some folks have asked for background and details on the Old Corral website.
This is a non-profit, non-commercial fansite, with nothing for sale and no profit in mind. 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 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 site takes a lot of time and energy, and I do get tired and frustrated working on this thing. One of the downsides is that I no longer have the hours to watch old westerns and serials since most of my free time is spent updating and maintaining the Old Corral. Instead of watching films, I pop one in the VCR or DVD player and listen to it as I work.
Adding new cowboy heroes takes time and effort. For example, the section on Allan 'Rocky' Lane consists of a half dozen HTM pages. It took me about 20 hours to create that section, only because Paul Dellinger did the great writeup on Lane. I did the entire piece on Johnny Mack Brown and it has about a dozen HTM pages and took about 40 hours to accomplish.
Maintenance takes a bunch of hours. Since the Old Corral went online in 1998, I've tried to include links to other websites that have info on these old western films and performers. I've also been amazed (frustrated) by the number of sites that have disappeared and/or the sites that haven't been updated in years.
My personal rules and guidelines for the Old Corral are:
- to have a website that is good lookin', fun, chock full of good quality images, has a consistent look and feel, and is easy to maneuver through and around.
- to present facts and accurate information ... not to simply copy material from other sources (which often contains incorrect or misleading info).
- to "ferret out" new stuff, and to present information that has not been covered in other books or articles.
- though it's not possible in every case, we strive to provide details and nitty-gritty, not a simple overview or summary on a person.
- to label scuttlebutt and rumors as well as opinions, so that visitors understand these may not be truisms.
- to provide insight of the B western performers and production people by incorporating comments and recollections from relatives, as well as folks who knew them, or interviewed them, or saw them doing personal appearances at theaters, fairs or circuses.
- some B western performers had problems (such as alcohol and divorce), and these situations will be identified. But I won't dwell on these negatives --- I'm (we're) not perfect, and neither were they.
- to give proper credit and thanks to the people who help with the Old Corral, along with the references and other material that I use.
- fixes, corrections, updates, family photos, et al are gladly accepted and appreciated ... one of the advantages to a website is being able to correct or add information quickly.
The general routine that I use to put up new stuff is to do an initial draft/test page which has photos, poster art work and text. That page is put online for review by several of the Old Corral contributors ... and if photos or other material came from a family member or an Old Corral visitor, it's also reviewed by them. After review and tweaking, the page is then placed online for all Old Corral visitors to view.
As to the written material and "pages" --- as of January, 2012, the quantity of webpages was about 1100.
Some folks have asked for more images of posters on the Old Corral. There's several reasons that I don't use very many poster images. For those of you with a scanner, think of how many scans it takes to do all of the pieces to a large poster ... and then spend time with a graphics program "stitching" all those pieces together into a single image. The other issue with posters is that most are drawings/paintings (some are very colorful, beautiful). I do have two digital cameras and have experimented with shooting images of posters using both. While a high resolution camera image of a poster is useable, the lighting is often a problem --- if I take a shot indoors and use a flash, the image often has a reflection, i.e., the center is lighter than the edges. The best choice for lighting is to use outdoor sunlight, but then I have to thumbtack a poster to a board, wait for the correct sunlight, yadda, yadda. The preferred images on the Old Corral are lobby cards and photos. A lobby card is scanned in two separate pieces --- the right half and the left half --- and then blended together ("stitched") into a single image --- relatively easy since I have done thousands of these. However, the most important reason for the use of lobby cards is that they contain one or more actual images of the hero ... and may also include the heroine, the sidekick, the brains heavy, the trusty hoss, etc. Some even have images of the star's saddle or gunbelt as well as the supporting players, gang members, etc. Thus a lobby card may be useable in various sections on the Old Corral.
Some have asked why the homepage for the Old Corral is named "trio.htm". The website got started in the Spring of 1998 when I put up pages on the Range Busters, Three Mesquiteers, Rough Riders, Trail Blazers, et al --- basically the trio westerns. The "trio.htm" was the homepage and became indexed in all the Search Engines and Movie related websites. And I left it that way as the Old Corral was born and expanded well beyond the trio series concept.
Others have suggested that I add some kind of message board capability. I certainly agree this would be a nice feature. But I just don't have any more time to devote to this website, and having a message board/Q&A/chat area requires management and maintenance --- for example, I would have to preview all messages prior to posting them online to insure they're not spam, or porn site advertisements, or full of profanity or inflammatory language, and to work through message board updates and maintenance releases. Besides, there are several existing message boards on B films, westerns and serials, and you'll find links to those off the Old Corral homepage.
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, as there's a limit to my endurance ... and I do have to sleep occasionally.
The period of time which I've arbitrarily chosen to cover on the Old Corral 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, stars such as Tom Mix, Ken Maynard, Harry Carey and Buck Jones, who were successful in both silent and sound oaters, will be covered since some or a lot of their screen time occurred in "talkies".
Some folks have asked if I could start a mailing list to notify those (who subscribe) of changes and updates. Since I do updates several times a week (and sometimes daily), I've opted not to do this kind of mailing ... besides, that's why I have the Changes & Updates page for people to view. The problem with any kind of e-mail group mailing is that it would add to my time because of maintenance --- some recipients will want to change their e-mail addresses while others want to be added or removed. And there will always be undeliverable messages that get bounced back to me (because someone changed their mail address and didn't notify me). A secondary issue with any form of mass mailing is that it is often labeled as 'spamming'. Plus, a simple request to be added, removed or changed on the mail list isn't acceptable. I would need to send a mail message back to the sender requesting verification, confirmation, etc. (to catch those 'crafty' individuals who try to place e-mail addresses of others on the list as a joke or to 'get even' with someone).
In October, 2004, we reached a plateau with over one million "hits" on the Old Corral homepage. I don't have a clue how many hits there have been to the various sections and sub-pages (since some websites link to page or section which bypasses the OC homepage).
I can't forget all the contributors to the Old Corral ... and there are many who have contributed writeups, family history, photos, et al. There is an "Acknowledgments & Thanks" page which lists the folks and organizations that have helped make the Old Corral possible.
Lastly, I need to say a special thanks to my wife Rosemary, who knows I spend too much of my life working on this thing ... but rarely complains.
Updated: January 4, 2013
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