There is nothing I like better than to gather the senior rodeo clowns and see them entertain and please the fans at a Rodeo Clown Reunion. This summer we were at Deadwood Days of ’76 in beautiful South Dakota. After a day of sight-seeing by bus the Reunion bunch enjoyed signing autographs and entertaining at four rodeo performances, plus visits to various local gambling establishments to sign autographs and participating in a Campfire Program at High Plains Western Heritage Center in nearby Spearfish.
Those that attended this year’s Reunion, in alphabetical order, are
JIM APLAN, of Piedmont, SD, whose career as a funnyman and bullfighter was with the well known Colonel Jim Eskew, whose rodeos and wild west shows were held east of the Mississippi.
BOB BABIN, of Waller, TX, clowned from 1966 to 1978 and was known for his great animal acts and his old buckin’ Ford. He’s still providing animals for fairs around the country.
TERRY BEVERS, of Alvarado, TX, fought bulls at the Texas Circuit Finals in 1979, and during his eighteen years in the business worked rodeos from Texas to California.
WAYNE CORNISH, of Enid, Oklahoma, was born into rodeo as his dad was a contract act performer. He was a barrelman from 1950 to 1972 and also performed a Roman team, standing on their backs, jumping through a fiery hoop and over cars, too.
GEORGE DOAK, of Katy, TX, made bullfighting look so easy that many others thought it didn’t take the effort that it does. He started his career 1953 at Cowtown, New Jersey, and retired in 1981. He’s been inducted in to many Halls of Fame across the country.
MELVIN FIELDS, from Coffeyville, KS, worked over fifteen years getting laughs and saving lives. He was inducted in to the Kansas Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2007.
JESS FRANKS, of Aztec, NM, spent almost thirty years in the arena. In 1981 he spent the summer as rodeo clown at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. He worked the National Finals Rodeo in 1989.
JOHN GARCIA, of Holcomb, KS, was the 2003 and 2008 IPRA Champion barrelman. He began his career in 1997 and is still working in the arena.
KAJUN KIDD, whose real name is D. J. Gaudin, of Spring Branch, TX, clowned all the big rodeos from Madison Square Garden to Houston to National Finals Rodeo. He has also been inducted in to many Halls of Fame for his twenty-seven year career.
BOBBY GREEN, of Godley, TX, clowned and fought bulls on the IPRA rodeo circuit for eighteen years. Bobby is now raising bucking bulls for the AJRA and other rodeo organizations.
JIM HILL, of Ringwood, OK, fought bulls for 36 years and would still be doing it if his body had held out. During his career he worked in 42 states, Canada and Mexico. He also did the bullfighting in the movie, Junior Bonner, and a half dozen other movies.
WRIGHT HOWINGTON, of Sunset, TX, was called the ‘old man of rodeo’ after he spent 41 years in the arena. He had great animal acts, including Dalmatian dogs. He spent a lot of time in Northside Coliseum at Fort Worth, but still traveled extensively.
DAYTON ‘HAWK’ HYDE, of Hot Springs, SD, did his clowning in the 1940s with Slim Pickens, but also took photographs for the old Hoofs & Horns rodeo magazine. He wore Slim’s old matador outfit, complete with red cape. He presently is Director of the Mustang Sanctuary in southwest South Dakota.
BILLY JORDAN, of Corsicana, TX, clowned for twenty-eight years. He worked the very first ‘Old Timers’ Rodeo, held in Temple, Texas, which was the start of the Senior ProRodeo Assoc.
MARVIN KLEIN, of Solon, ND, worked as a bullfighter for all the greats, Harry Vold, Korkow, Sutton and Cervi, and traveled from one end of the country to the other from 1970 to 1987.
JIM KORKOW, of Pierre, SD, fought bulls for his dad, Erv Korkow, when he wasn’t learning the stock contracting business, which he does now. His bullfighting career was spotty from 1955 to 1969. His dad, deceased, was just inducted in to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Jim represented the family.
TOM LEGRAND, of Fairmont, OK, came from a rodeo family, brother Buck was also in the business. He worked the famous predecessor to the National Finals Rodeo, the rodeo in Madison Square Garden in New York City, in addition to many other rodeos.
CHARLEY LYONS, of Saint Ignatius, MT, was a bullfighter from 1955 to 1981. He had an act that few clowns tried to copy. He rode a bronc sitting in a washtub and he admits the bruises were often brutal!
WALLY MARTIN, of Silver Springs, FL, was a barrelman from 1966 to 1969, and did most of his arena chores in and around his home state of Florida.
JOE MCBRIDE, JR, of Middletown, NY, who admits he was born in Brooklyn, worked the eastern seaboard rodeos from 1950 to 1970, until he admits, “The bulls got bigger and my barrel shrunk!”
DIXIE REGER MOSLEY, of Amarillo, TX (THE ONLY WOMAN CLOWN TO WORK 13 YEARS IN THE PROFESSION) started her career at five and a half years old as a trick rider. When the Girls Rodeo Association was formed in 1948 she became their comic relief and bullfighter.
JERRY OLSON, of Belle Fourche, SD, is from a four generation rodeo family. He fought bulls for 20 years and also had a terrific buffalo act, which his father had before him. He has been inducted in to many Halls of Fame.
GARY PARLI, of Morrison, OK, was barrelman and got laughs from 1964 to 2007, summers only. He was a school teacher and later a rodeo coach. He clowned in 38 states and three provinces of Canada. He was barrelman at the National Finals Rodeo in 1976.
GORDIE PEER, of Okeechobee, FL, in addition to his years of being a funnyman he also taught the Lone Ranger to spin a gun and Lash LaRue to crack a whip. He holds a ‘Roping Gathering’ at his ranch every February for ropers of all abilities.
PETE PETERSON, of Homosassa Springs, FL, got laughs and fought bulls for 38 years, 1947 til 1985. In his spare time he also wrestled alligators. In the early days he painted store windows to advertise the coming rodeo.
“JUG” REYNOLDS, of Bowie, TX, helped his dad, Fess, with his rodeo clown acts when just a ‘pup’. He later gained fame as the last Little Beaver, Red Ryder’s sidekick in movies.
JIMMY SCHUMACHER, of Las Vegas, NV, age 89, was a barrelman from 1949 to 1972. He took over for Jasbo Fulkerson, the very first barrelman, when he was killed in a truck accident. Jimmy was the first to take the bottom out of the barrel and patented it. The barrel is on display in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs.
DUANE STEPHENS, of Tyler, TX, fought bulls for fifteen years then became an attorney. He never did quit handling ‘the bull’. He’s a real ‘Harley Davidson’ man and often comes to the Reunions on his hog.
JOHN STOKES, of Freer, TX, cut his rodeo teeth on Hoss Inman’s high-horned bucking bulls that were mean and would fight. After that experience the others looked tame. He fought bulls off and on between 1955 and 1973. He now raises bucking bulls.
JON TEMPLE, of Cleburne, TX, was known as the bullfighter’s bullfighter during the thirteen years he spent in the arena. If it hadn’t been for an injury his career would have been much longer.
STEVE TOMAC, of Saint Anthony, ND, clowned rodeos when he wasn’t doing his job as senator of North Dakota. It’s a real toss up to guess which profession had the most ‘bull’!
JERRY TRAVIS, of Murray, IA, spent seventeen years (1974 to 1991) in the arena fighting bulls, including the Great Lakes Circuit Finals.
TIMBER TUCKNESS, of Meeteetse, WY, is still working the arena, and has passed his talents on to his son, Dusty, who’s a major bullfighter in today’s game. Timber is also a fearless rodeo photographer.
RONNY WEBB, of Hemphill, TX, fought bulls from 1956 to 1961, but was also known for riding them, too.
“CLAP” WOODS, of Little Rock, AR, protected bull riders at rodeos and buckouts. He even worked a Jim Shoulders Bull Riding School and lived to tell it! He clowned off and on from 1964 to 1984.
J. D. HILL, of Ringwood, OK, is the Rodeo Clown Reunion Mascot, and the son of Jim and Dianne Hill. He is thirteen years old, entering the 8th grade, is an honors student, and has been the mascot since he was six years old.
These fearless laugh-getters can set a town on it’s ear, and get more grins than one would imagine. Although they walk a little slower, and some even limp, their stamina may have give out a little, but when they come to a Rodeo Clown Reunion they don their familiar make-up, which actually covers lots of wrinkles, and their familiar costume, and come early and stay late. No one has more fun than yesterday’s rodeo clowns!