Pittsburg, Kansas

By Jean Wayt

I can’t remember the exact date but it was in the summer of 1948 and we were at Pittsburgh, Kansas for the rodeo. Pittsburgh is about 5 miles West of the Missouri line and 25 miles North of the Oklahoma line.

We camped in a large park in town that had large trees and plenty of shade and grass, which we were thankful for as that part of Kansas was noted for very hot summers and tornados too. It had a small lake at the lower end and all the kids’ had great time swimming, as did the adults as well. Some of the other cowboys with house trailers parked there also. The Simons had three trailers as two of Dads brothers, Jigg and Jack were there too. Now these three brothers were a little bit on the ornery side and liked nothing better than to get together and visit and talk about the old days. We had been there a couple days before the rodeo started and they were making the most of being together.

Another trailer had pulled in, after driving all night, the day before the show started and were sleeping in late to catch up on some badly needed rest. We knew it was Pistol Holiday and his wife, a daughter of Paul Long who had been a stock contractor for many years. Dad, Jigg and Jack, along with several other cowboys were sitting and visiting enjoying a few cold beers and eating cold watermelon. About noon dad asked who the cowboy was that had pulled in the night before and someone said Pistol Holiday to which dad replied,” So that’s Pistol Holiday”! Dad began to assemble his wardrobe. He took my white hat that I wore when I rode in parades, and got an old shotgun that somebody in the bunch had and a big red neck scarf. Well he put this garb on and set there and kept watching Pistols trailer waiting for him to come out and when he finally did dad with white hat on, scarf around neck carrying the shotgun over his shoulder walked over just as big as you please walked over to Pistol and stuck his hand out to shake hands with him and said, “ They tell me your Pistol Holiday, well I’m shotgun Simon. Pleased to meet ‘cha “! Poor Pistol didn’t know what to say or do or think so he shook hands with dad and dad said, “ Come on over and have a cold beer and some watermelon”. Then walked back over to the gang. Well, need I say more? Everybody got a good laugh but Pistol was a good sport about it.

Every one had to go to the rodeo office to enter and pay their entry fees. When the Simons entered there were 6. Dad, Jigg, Jack, Milt, Doug and Earl. Then there were Della, Francis and my self trick riding. The guys never did any other events, only calf roping and bulldogging. Unknown to us two or three of the other cowboys entered as Simon. Billy Balkman entered as Billy Simon; there was Jim Simon, Bill Simon. They were being real ornery too. You wouldn’t get away with doing any thing like that these days. Thank Heaven for that too! That poor rodeo
announcer was going crazy until they got it all straightened out.

Rodeoing was much more fun 60 years ago and every bit as serious as today’s contestants and rodeos. There wasn’t near as many rodeos to go to and entry fees were $15.00 or $20.00 and if you won a go-round you got $50.00 to $75.00 and Lord if you were lucky enough to win an average you made a whopping $300.00 MAYBE!! And this all depending on how much money the rodeo committee would put up. Of course bread was a nickel a loaf, gas fifteen cents a gallon and so on. There was no such thing as making 3 rodeos a day! Most rodeos were 1 or 2 days long and you got stock every performance. Rodeoing today just makes this 78-year-old head spin but I am so happy and proud of all of the young talented cowboys going down the road today. They are doing things that I never dreamed, was possible to do. Roping a calf in 6 seconds, throwing a steer in 3 seconds. I’m happy that I have been lucky to live long enough to see these days.

Well folks I’ll end this story with telling you the 1948 Pittsburgh Kansas rodeo was talked about for lots of years.