My mind has wandered to the West tonight as earlier today I finished reading a book about a legendary cowboy.
I read Pecos Bill: The Greatest Cowboy of All Time by Dr. James Cloyd Bowman as part of my Newbery Challenge.
The book was published in 1937 and was a finalist for the Newbery Medal and was later named a Newbery Honor book.
The book is richly illustrated by Laura Bannon. The illustrations are absolutely wonderful and it is worth finding a copy just to see them.
The book is also wonderful. Bowman brings together the folk lore, legends and tall tales about Pecos Bill.
In the story you find out about the fantastic origins of all the different aspects of cowboy life. What Paul Bunyan is to the Logger, Pecos Bill is to the Cowboy.
This made me think of a editorial cartoon that I had seen in one of my Grandma’s Scrapbooks.
TV Boot Hill illustrates the demise of many TV Westerns in the early 60’s.
The peak year for TV Westerns was 1959 and by 1961 many of them had disappeared due to high production costs and a move from 1/2 hour to hour long shows.
One big production cost was horse rental, and this is shown in the cartoon by the label on the side of the horse ‘HOYTS RENT-A-HORSE’.
The caption ‘Thet’s what comes from over-stockin’ th’ range son’ was very true as in the late 50’s prime-time TV was dominated by Westerns.
Most of the shows that are shown on the tombstones did not last for long. Some for less than 20 episodes and most of them for less that two or three seasons.
The only shows with more than 100 episodes were Zane Grey Theater, Bat Masterson and The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.
The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp ran for 6 seasons with over 200 episodes and starred Hugh O’Brian as Wyatt Earp.
Since I grew up in Red Dirt Country not far from Dodge City and Boot Hill, this cartoon hits home.
Some Westerns are still in syndication, so the genre is not entirely gone even 50 years later.
Did you have a favorite Western?