The current edition of Rodeo News features the article, “Back When They Bucked with Pat Ommert” with her picture from a performance years ago, which, in turn, reminded me of the years spent on the Quarter Circle A ranch in Manatee County, Florida with Faye and Vic Blackstone, who are both in the Cowboy and Cowgirl Halls of Fame.
Faye was one of Pat Ommert’s contemporaries and was credited with inventing some of the trick riding maneuvers rodeo performers still use today.
I noticed in both pictures that the women used white trick riding saddles, and I found a picture of Faye’s favorite saddle in Florida Cattle Ranching online.
Many of the cowgirls of that era were photogenic, and the camera liked Faye.
From the 7th chapter of Growing Up Floridian:
Until Smokey and I were invited into the Blackstone’s house one afternoon for freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies by Faye, Vick’s wife, we really didn’t know how famous they were in the cowboy world. They had been managing the Quarter Circle A Ranch since the early 1940’s, and we knew they both still performed in some local rodeos. A couple of pictures hanging on the wall in the kitchen of Vick as a young bronc rider caught my eye, and, as I walked closer I recognized a much younger Vick.
“Wander through the house, boys, and look at all the pictures if you want,” Faye suggested.
The entire house was almost an art gallery or photo exhibit dedicated largely to the cowboy and his cowgirl. Vick and Faye had been photographed on horseback in many well-know rodeo arenas, standing beside beautiful horses, performing all kinds of rope tricks, and standing with many famous people. Action photos caught them as young rodeo performers at the top of their profession.
Jock Mahoney, known only as the Range Rider in the 1951 to 1953 TV western Range Rider, was one of the celebrity attractions of the 1954 Boston Garden Rodeo. He appeared during the 11-day Boston rodeo with Dick Jones, who was his saddle pal in the 79 episodes of the Range Rider. Mahoney also played the lead in Yancy Derringer, the popular but short-lived western in 1958 – 59.
From the Harvard Crimson:
“Lest the West” by Edmund H. Harvey, October 23, 1954
A rodeo is something that has to be smelled to be believed. The World’s Championship Rodeo in Boston Garden…All the best broncs are there: Country Butter, Sling Shot, Pig Eye, Drunkard, and the best riders and the prettiest girls. Also, The Range Rider and his Saddle Pal…The Range Rider (who) wears blue suede shoes…after the calf-roping contest,…time for the Range Rider (Jack Mahoney) and his Saddle Pal (Dick West)…The Range Rider jumps on a horse, but he does it three ways under a spotlight. Saddle Pal is a stooge who tries to do all the things that Range rider does but just thumps against the horse’s side. After each mounting he looks around at the crowd, and shouts, “Well, howdya like the Cavalry split-the neck mount? Didya like it HUH?” Everybody yells and claps and the Ranger Rider mounts another way (which I forget what they call). This goes on for a while and the Range Rider and Saddle Pal stage a fight. Then, they ride around the arena and throw their hats to the people that have applauded the most. This is the feature attraction…
This past Mother’s Day led me to reminisce about my mother’s mention, years ago, of her adventure of riding in the opening parade of the 1954 Boston Garden World Championship Rodeo held between October 20th and October 31st. I went through some old photographs and found the purple and gold ribbon she wore that identified her as a Parade Guest when she carried one of the flags on horseback in the opening ceremonies. Pictures of her on horseback from her teenage years through early adulthood always captured her in her happiest moments.
From the 6th chapter of Growing Up Floridian,“Faye Blackstone”:
Faye, who enjoyed an audience, described how she and Vick met when they were both rodeo performers, and a picture of them getting married on horseback in 1937 was evidence she pointed out to back up her story. She told us that she started riding and trying to perform tricks when she was younger than we were. A few pictures of her as a young girl getting progressively older climbed up the wall near their bedroom door. One wall of the living room was divided in half by pictures of Vick riding bulls, roping calves, bull dogging steers, and riding broncs with a saddle and without, while the other half held pictures of Faye barrel racing, standing on a horse at a full run, hanging off the side of her horse almost touching the ground, and bouncing off the ground into the air about to remount as a horse ran through a rodeo arena. Others pictures captured Faye riding in colorful opening parades of rodeos in Madison Square Garden, Boston Garden, the Cow Palace in San Francisco, and the Frontier Days Rodeo in Cheyenne.
“My mother rode in a rodeo parade in Boston Garden once,” I proffered.
Faye looked up from pouring glasses of milk, tucked a blonde curl behind her ear, and agreed, “I know. Your mother and I have talked about those days a few times. She was very pretty back then and is still a good lookin’ woman who can sit a horse well.”