Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Lee Powell


Lee Powell (1908–1944) was an American born cowboy actor who was best know for his 1938 role in Republic Picture's Lone Ranger serial.  He made just 19 films during his short career, and died at the young age of 36 from alcohol poisoning during WWII.  Photo above from Prairie Pals (1942) courtesy of Bruce Hickey.

Lee Powell's Santa Susana locations starring roles:


Lone Ranger, The (1938) starring Lee Powell, Chief Thundercloud (Iverson Ranch) Republic (photo courtesy of Bruce Hickey)


Hi-Yo-Silver (1940) starring Lee Powell, Chief Thundercloud - Republic (Edited version of the 1938 Republic serial "The Lone Ranger")


Along the Sundown Trail (1942) starring Lee Powell, Art Davis and Bill 'Cowboy Rambler' Boyd - PRC

Prairie Pals (1942) starring Art Davis, Bill 'Cowboy Rambler' Boyd and Lee Powell - PRC (see photo at top)


Raiders of the West (1942) starring Bill 'Cowboy Rambler' Boyd, Art Davis and Lee Powell - PRC


Rolling Down the Great Divide (1942) starring Bill 'Cowboy Rambler' Boyd, Art Davis and Lee Powell - PRC

Lee Powell's Santa Susana locations supporting roles:

Come On, Rangers (1938) starring Roy Rogers, Lynne Roberts and Raymond Hatton (Iverson Ranch) Republic


Lone Rider Rides On, The (1941) starring George Houston, Hillary Brooke and Al St. John (Iverson Ranch) PRC (Photo above courtesy of Bruce Hickey).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cowboy Legacy -- First Deer Hunt


I just purchased a new Ruger American Rifle and a Redfield Revolution 3-9x40 scope, and I've been thinking about hunting in years past.

During the late summer of 1957 dad was building a modest two-bedroom home (above) in Oakhurst, California.  At that time Oakhurst -- situated in the foothills of the High Sierras -- had a population of 357 inhabitants.  At the very least you'd have to describe it as rural, in fact, it is the southern gateway to Yosemite National Park.


The only real industry in Oakhurst at the time was a small saw mill and tourism.

Dad had just finished a really rough year in the home building business in Los Angeles, and was fed up with modern civilization.  Now, he was seeking a simpler life style in the mountains.  1956 had been a year of recession.  It was also a year in which dad had built six custom homes for sale while the building industry was in the middle of a sand and gravel workers strike.  I remember dad holding his 30-30 rifle while I misted freshly plaster homes with water to aid the curing process.  He was a small nonunion contractor and was constantly harassed by labor unions.

Dad was a deer hunter, so we ate plenty of venison during the 1950s.  He and a buddy usually went to Utah, but occasionally he'd hunt in California, and if I was lucky he'd let me tag along.


Dad had just returned from a trip to Los Angeles with a load of cabinets for our new home when he called me out to his truck to see something.  He reached in the cab and pulled out a used Savage 30-30 bolt action rifle.  "It's yours," he said.  "If we're going to live in the mountains you might as well be able to hunt with me."  I was fourteen but would be fifteen during deer season, so he figured it was time for me to have my own rifle.

In order to get a license and deer tags I was required to take a 'Hunter Safety' class.  We were living on a ranch in Ahwahnee, California while dad was building our home, and we found a hunter safety instructor in nearby Nipinnawasee.  I can't even find Nipinnawasee -- which means plenty of deer -- on a map today.  The instructors name was Jerry Openshaw and he was a swell teacher.  He not only taught me the necessary safety course, but he taught me how to shoot my Savage 30-30 rifle as well.

No tall tale

Now this is going to sound like a tall tale, but I swear it's true.

As I said we were living on a ranch.  Actually it was just a rental house, but it was about a mile from the highway and required opening two barbed wire gates to get in and out.  The area was also plumb full of wildlife.  We saw mule deer and bob cats almost daily.

Anyhow to make a long story short… opening day of deer season had arrived and when I went outside to feed our dogs shortly after sunrise.  There were two forked horn mule deer bucks on the edge of a clearing about a hundred yards from the house.  I quickly ran back into the house and asked dad if I could take a shot at the deer.  He said okay, so I scooted out the back door with my rifle and one cartridge.  I shoved a round into the chamber, dropped to one knee, took aim and fired.  The buck jumped straight up into the air, pivoted, and disappeared into the woods.

By this time dad was standing on the porch behind me.  I heard him mumble "buck fever," but I was pretty sure I hit him, so we walked to the edge of the woods.  There -- 25 feet from where the buck was standing -- I found him.  The bullet went in just behind a shoulder, went through the heart, and lodged just under the skin on the opposite side.  It was a text book clean kill.


Right after the excitement of shooting my first deer was over remorse set in, but we gutted and cleaned the deer and had lots of good venison steaks that winter.


We moved into our new home before Thanksgiving of 1957.  We lived there until 1960, and hunted every year, but I never got another clean shot at a deer.


Dad sold my Savage model 325 rifle in 1960, but gave me a brand new Remington model 742, .308 semi-automatic rifle to replace it.






Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012


A drifting cowboy wishes you and your family a happy, safe Thanksgiving holiday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hunting Safety -- Irked Granddad


For my 70th birthday last month I bought myself a brand new Ruger American Rifle.  I also decided I'd go hunting next year, so I went online to buy a California hunting license.  Then I discovered to purchase a license I'm required to show evidence of an Annual California Hunting License issued in any prior year or provide a California certificate of hunter education completion.


I did take a hunter safety course to get my first hunting license in 1957, and I had a hunting license almost every year between 1957 and 1989, but I didn't keep any of them.  I was irked!  I'm going to have to take a hunter safety course to go hunting again.  I made my peace with the program and signed up for an online course.  Then the problems started.  The $25 online course didn't include a field requirement.  I'd had to find that elsewhere.  

Finding someone in the Los Angeles area that could sign off on the field requirement was next to impossible.  After a lot of online searching and a phone call to the department of fish and game I discovered a fellow offers a complete hunter safety course at a local gun range.  In order to signup for his class I had to make a 40 mile drive just to make a cash deposit for the class.  I was also required to purchase a blaze orange vest for his class.  Before I am even eligible to purchase a $45 license I will have spent $100 to learn about firearm safety.

Shooting my muzzle-loader - Wyoming 1988

I'm not suggesting I can't learn some new things, or that hunter safety isn't really important.  But, after all -- I spent a few years doing cowboy mounted shooting, three years in the US Army (Special Forces), and I have hunted deer, bear, ducks, pheasant, quail, doves and grouse in several states -- so it irks me to have to go back to school to do what I've done for half of my life.


I'm working on a positive attitude, and trying to follow the example of my childhood heroes.  All I can say is, "It's a good thing the California DFG isn't involved in cowboy mounted shooting."

Happy Trails

Follow up...

I took the class and I admit I learned a lot.  With 20/20 hind sight I'm glad I took the class which I passed with 99%.

Happy hunting.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Jim Bannon


Jim Bannon (1911-1984) got his start as an actor in radio.  After moving to Hollywood and becoming a stunt man in the 1940s he finally won starring roles in western films during the 1950s.  He is best remembered as the fourth cinema Red Ryder from 1949 - 1950.   Toward the end of his career he appeared in numerous western television series.

Starring roles at Santa Susana locations:

Trail to Laredo (1948) starring Charles Starrett, Jim Bannon and Virginia Maxey - Columbia


Cowboy and the Prizefighter (1949) starring Jim Bannon, Don Reynolds and Emmett Lynn - Eagle-Lion


Fighting Redhead, The (1949) starring Jim Bannon, Don Reynolds and Emmett Lynn - Eagle-Lion


Ride, Ryder, Ride! (1949) starring Jim Bannon, Don Reynolds and Emmett Lynn - Eagle-Lion


Roll, Thunder, Roll! (1949) starring Jim Bannon, Don Reynolds and Emmett Lynn - Eagle-Lion


Canyon Raiders (1951) starring Whip Wilson, Fuzzy Knight and Jim Bannon  (Iverson Ranch) Monogram

Nevada Badmen (1951) starring Whip Wilson, Fuzzy Knight and Jim Bannon  (Iverson Ranch) Monogram



Stagecoach Driver (1951) starring Whip Wilson, Fuzzy Knight and Jim Bannon (Iverson Ranch) Monogram

Lawless Cowboys (1951) starring Whip Wilson, Fuzzy Knight and Jim Bannon (Iverson Ranch) Monogram

Wanted: Dead or Alive (1951) starring Whip Wilson, Fuzzy Knight and Jim Bannon (Iverson Ranch) Monogram

Supporting roles at Santa Susana locations:

Renegades (1946) starring Evelyn Keyes, Willard Parker and Larry Parks (Corriganville) Columbia

Man from Colorado, The (1948) starring Glenn Ford, William Holden and Ellen Drew (Iverson Ranch)(Corriganville) Columbia

Frontier Revenge (1948) starring Lash La Rue, Al St. John and Peggy Stewart (Iverson Ranch)(Corriganville) Western Adventures

Jiggs and Maggie Out West (1950) starring Joe Yule, Renie Riano and George McManus - Monogram

Sierra Passage (1951) starring Wayne Morris, Lola Albright and Lloyd Corrigan - Monogram

Ridin' the Outlaw Trail (1951) starring Charles Starrett, Smiley Burnette and Sunny Vickers - (Iverson Ranch) Columbia

Texas Rangers, The (1951) starring George Montgomery, Gale Storm and Jerome Courtland (Corriganville)(Iverson Ranch) Columbia

Jack Slade (1953) starring Mark Stevens, Dorothy Malone and Barton MacLane (Burro Flats)(Iverson Ranch) Allied Artists

Supporting TV roles at Santa Susana locations:

"Red Ryder" TV Series (1951) starring Allan Lane and Louis Lettieri

"Adventures of Kit Carson, The" (1951) TV Series starring Bill Williams, Don Diamond and John L. Cason

"Range Rider, The" (1951) TV Series starring Jock Mahoney, Dickie Jones and Bob Woodward

"Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok" (1951) TV Series starring Guy Madison, Andy Devine and Sam Flint

"Gene Autry Show, The" (1950) TV Series starring Gene Autry, Champion and Pat Buttram

"Annie Oakley" (1954) TV Series starring Gail Davis, Brad Johnson and Jimmy Hawkins

"Lone Ranger, The" (1949) TV Series starring Jay Silverheels, Clayton Moore and John Hart

"Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, The" (1954) TV Series starring Lee Aaker, James Brown and Rin Tin Tin II

"Maverick" (TV Series 1957–1962) starring Jack Kelly, James Garner and Roger Moore

"Zorro" (1957) TV Series starring Guy Williams, Gene Sheldon and Henry Calvin

"Fury" (1955) TV Series starring Peter Graves, Bobby Diamond and William Fawcett

"Cimarron City" (1958) TV Series starring George Montgomery, John Smith and Audrey Totter

"Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, The" (1955) TV Series starring Hugh O'Brian, Buddy Roosevelt and Ethan Laidlaw

"Bat Masterson" (1958) TV Series starring Gene Barry, Bill Baldwin and Allison Hayes

"Tales of Wells Fargo" (1957) TV Series starring Dale Robertson, William Demarest and Kit Carson

"Rough Riders, The" (1958) TV Series starring Kent Taylor, Jan Merlin and Peter Whitney

"Wagon Train" (1957) TV Series starring Frank McGrath, Terry Wilson and Robert Horton

"Lassie" (1954) TV Series starring Lassie, Jon Provost and June Lockhart

"Death Valley Days" (1952) TV Series starring Robert Taylor, Stanley Andrews and Don Haggerty

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Montana Land -- What No Horses


Searching for recreational property in the 'last best place' -- as Montana used to be called by some of its old timers -- has sure been an eye opener.  

Today Montana folks have become so downright democratic they've got rules for nearly every situation.  If you're gonna live amongst them then you'd better become civilized or don't plan on attending the ball.

Some of my ancestors arrived in the woods of Montana just over a hundred years ago.  Back then the government would give them a 160 acre homestead as long as they 'proved up' -- built a home and move in -- within five years.  All they really needed was a good team of horses, a sharp axe, and a Winchester.


The average pioneer cabin back then was a 14' by 20' wood framed structure with a loft, and it was plenty of room for a family of seven.  My grandfathers obtained the lumber as they cleared the land for a garden.  They hunted deer and elk, and picked huckleberries all of which were canned and kept in a root cellar.  Once they had a garden and a few fruit trees they were pretty much self sufficient.

I have memories of visiting family members in Montana and Idaho that were living without electricity or indoor plumbing as late as the 1950s.  Those old timers pretty much started and ended their day with the sunrise and sunset.  Heating and cooking was done on a cast iron wood stove, lighting was kerosine lamps, and the outhouse was a hundred feet beyond the back door.  Water wells were common enough, and a hand pump was generally located at the kitchen sink.

My dream has been to find a little piece of land where I can experience some of that pioneer lifestyle by living off the land -- at least part time -- I wanted to find a place where I could keep horses, build a modest 14' by 20' cabin, and go hunting and fishing.

But, modern Montanans don't want folks like me.  They don't want horses and the flies that accompany them.  They don't want cabins less than 600 square feet.  And, they don't want me shooting anything decorates their forests.

Montana land developers -- most I suspect originated in Texas or California -- have discovered covenants.  Covenants are a democratic tool that makes all folks equal -- that is folks with money.  With covenants you can keep out all those annoying horses, motorhomes, pioneer sized cabins, and noisy workshops.  With covenants you can protect your property value by guaranteeing no dwelling will be smaller than 2000 square feet.  No metal roofs, metal out buildings or bright colors will be allowed.

The internet is a wonderful tool for the land hunter.  In a matter of hours you can learn about hundreds of pieces of land for sale.  You can search by price, size, and area.  You can actually specify an area by city and county.  But, the internet is also a dangerous place because a land seller can make a sow's ear look like a silk purse -- some less scrupulous sellers use the same photos of an elk herd grazing, wooded river front, and piney woods for every parcel they have listed.

A property listing may suggest you can bring your horses, build your cabin, and walk across the road to hunt and fish.  But, the reality is that you need one acre per horse (if the covenants allow them), the minimum cabin size is 1500 square feet, and the nearest National Forest where hunting is allowed is a 30 minute drive.  

I found two pieces of land that appealed to me… One near Missoula was 9.9 acres, but you can't build on it because the covenants require a minimum of 10 acres per dwelling.  The other, in Idaho, was perfect.  It has a creek, timber, and horses are allowed, but the county building code requires a minimum 1000 square foot dwelling (no metal roofs).

There is plenty of land out there and some of it is priced in my range, so I plan on continuing my online search through the winter.  


Next spring I'll pack my canoe and fishing pole and see what some of it looks like.