THE OLD WEST AND THE WAGONS AS THEY ROLLED – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Wagon

It was the first thing that came into my head when I saw the word “wagon.” That’s right. Westerns! Wagon trains and buckboard wagons with teams of horses.

Wagon Train brought us Ward Bond, Robert Horton, and others. Randolph Scott was offered the role originally but turned it down. It worked out to be a good deal for Ward Bond and it got Robert Horton acting as well as singing.

My favorite individual theme was “Rawhide” as sung by The Blues Brothers with all the whips at the bar in the south. Remember? I tend to get Wagon Train and Rawhide confused. They were entirely different shows, but they “felt” very similar. Maybe it was the costumes.

I think the happiest day of our two trips to Arizona was the day we spent in Tombstone.

Here’s a little special something for all of us who watched and loved those Western shows. It’s funny that I can’t remember any of the plots or stories, but I can sing ALL of the songs!

I was a Western movie addict as was Garry. I loved the men, but really, I loved the horses and those old dusty towns. Mostly, though, the horses. I think if you just showed me an hour of horses, I’d have been a very happy camper. Wasn’t it amazing how the streets were not full of mud and horseshit? And after they drove the cattle through … who cleaned up that mess?

And finally, I found this little treasure on YouTube. I’m sure there’s more and some of these aren’t in very good condition … but if those were the days when Westerns were the name of the game … roll ’em out, head ’em in …

And all because of wagons. Yee haw!

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

26 thoughts on “THE OLD WEST AND THE WAGONS AS THEY ROLLED – Marilyn Armstrong”

    1. Interesting comments about westerns. But approach that gendre with care – most of it is mythical – the myth of Marion Morrison et al. The draw-down in the main street was made up by East Coast writers – for all practical purposes there were no draw downs (for one thing, a 45 couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn – no accuracy.) When you read real western writers, like Will James, you’ll note that he poo-poos the role of the steel penis in the settling of the west. I have some background in the “Western” – my second mother worked on The Covered Wagon, and I was Caretaker at the historic Walking Box Ranch, retirement place of Clara Bow and cowboy star Rex Bell, so I had to do some deep study on that Marion Morrison Myth. I was also an NPS Ranger on the national historic cattle ranch, the Grant Kohrs in Montana. So enjoy the films, but remember – they are largely mythological and historically bullshit. The danger comes when voters think that that was the real west so we should all carry steel penises and vote for people like Ronnie Raygun.

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        1. Oh, I know it’s made up. I read books, not just watch movies. But it’s our mythology. I also have Native friends and I’ve gotten very sensitive to a lot of westerns I loved as a kid.

          Wyatt Earp and his many brothers (and his felonious father) were not the guys in the movies. And almost all the bad guy gangs were related … mostly cousins with a bunch of brother in the mix. In reality, it wasn’t always possible to tell the “good guys” from the bad ones. A lot of them played both sides of the law. Sherriffing and marshaling didn’t pay well. You made a lot more money rustling cattle and stealing horses and if you were ALSO the town sheriff, good deal!

          I don’t watch Westerns because they are historical. I watch them because they are fun and I don’t have to believe them. They are like modern crime shows where every week, every cop is in a gunfight on a public street. I know people who believe everything they see.

          I am not one of them. And Garry was a news reporter for a major Boston station for 31 years and a producer for ABC network before that. He’s been in the real world. I think that’s WHY he likes westerns. They are nothing like reality.

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        1. Randolph Scott was originally offered the lead role in “Wagon Train”. He said “THanks, No. My Real estate business keeps me busy”.

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  1. I remember when “Wagon Train,” and “Rawhide” were among my favorite westerns. As well as “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” “Have Gun, Will Travel,” and even “The Rifleman.”

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    1. I loved them all. Some of them replay better now than others. The Rifleman is still a pretty good show with interesting relationships, but Have Gun, Will Travel is troubled by blatantly fake sets and that anti-Chinese racism that probably wasn’t even considered racism at the time. Bonanza was a favorite when I was a teenager, although that the brothers absolutely bore NO resemblance to each other was always a bit strange. Also, my father had known Lorne Green (Larry Greenberg) and used to play poker with him while he was still an announcer on Canadian TV and had not yet made the big break into TV.

      I come from a family where we all look like each other. That’s probably part of being members of the eastern European Jewish community where we all married our cousins, so we resemble each other — even when we aren’t related.

      My absolute favorite was Maverick — the James Garner incarnation. He was SO cool.

      And despite not being able to remember much of the story (except the Lone Ranger — I even had Lone Ranger wallpaper in my bedroom), I could sing all the songs and narrate the intros. I still can.

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  2. Always loved Westerns. When I was 10 and 11 years old, I lived on the Harry Carey ranch,where I learned to ride and care for my animals. Harry was one of the old time Western stars, but e ran some cattle and horses and raised alfalfa on the ranch that was about l,000 acres. His daughter and I used to ride every day,and lots of times we had fun stampeding the cattle and the horses up the canyons. Besides those, we had chickens, goats, and burros. Once a month, we took the Navajo help into the nearest town to go to the movies, which, of course, were Westerns. For the next month, we girls re-enacted the film. It was a great life.

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  3. I always liked the theme from Rawhide, a TV show my mum was very fond of. She liked cowboy songs and yodeling. I loved the Blues Brothers version too. They also did a pretty good version of Ghost Riders in the Sky in Blues Brothers 2000.

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      1. For a laugh there is also a Muppet version from one of the old Muppet Shows. David and I loved the Muppet Show especially the musical numbers and parodies of TV shows like “Hogs in Space”.

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