Retro: I rue the day I missed going on Lone Star Rider's horse

Ray Hill has been a lifelong fan of cowboy films since growing up in Rotherham in the 1950s.

Saturday, 23rd January 2016, 10:00 am
June 10th 1953 Cranworth Infants School - left to right back row: Gary Hewitt, Ray Hill, Maurice Beck, Stewart Hill, Vic Marshall left to right middle row: unknown, Sheila Ashforth, unknown, John Macfarlane, unknown, June Minton, Carol Knowles, Brenda Cusworth Front row left to right: Peter Holkes, unknown, Anita Hirst, unknown, Rose Bell, unknown, Carol Bailey . Submitted by Ray Hill

Ray, of Greenhill Road, said: “When I went to the pictures with my parents we saw lots of westerns.

“I remember lots of films with Randolph Scott and Audie Murphy in them and when myself and my dad went to the cinema house on Saturday nights we would often see a short film with Red Ryder.

Steve Larrabee, the Lone Star Rider

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“A few years ago I bought a DVD Adventures of Red Ryder (1940). There are lots of old western serials out there going back to the late ’30s and ’40s. I have quite a few that I obtained from the USA.

“When I went to the kids’ matinees at the Cinema House on Saturday dinner time and the early one at the Bug Hut in Dalton I saw such as Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Johnny Mack Brown, Gene Autry, Tom Mix and others.

“So it wasn’t unusual for kids at that time to get a cowboy outfit for Christmas.

“In 1952 I asked my mother for a Hopalong Cassidy outfit, so she took me to Coopers toy store on Doncaster Gate in Rotherham.

Steve Larrabee, the Lone Star Rider

“When we went in my mother spoke to an assistant and we were sent to the department upstairs. We were told that they didn’t have one but that they would order one.

“When we went back they hadn’t been able to get one but would try again.

“But next time they still hadn’t managed to get one and as it was only a week to go I settled for a Roy Rogers one.

“Then, around 1954, I appeared on stage at the Regent Theatre on Howard Street in it.

“There was an advertisement in the Rotherham Advertiser saying a cowboy show starring Steve Larrabee, the Lone Star Rider, would be appearing and that any boys or girls who came in their cowboy outfits would be invited on to the stage and the best one would get a special prize. I think we got tickets for the last day; I went with my dad.

“When we got there we went upstairs and near the end of the show the kids were asked to come up on the stage.

“We were all given a small photo of Steve Larabee and a gold star ( sheriff’s badge).

“Then this very young girl was picked as the winner and was placed on Steve’s horse and then walked around the stage. The cynic in me still believes that it was fixed.

“Anyway, we all went back to our seats for the finale and when I got back to my seat my dad said ‘You went without this’ and held up my waistcoat which went with the outfit. When I had taken my coat off it had come off with it! I felt such an idiot.

“During 1953 I was at Cranworth Road School and for Commonwealth Day we were asked to come dressed in costumes. I, along with three other lads, went in our cowboy outfits and I would think they also got their outfits from Coopers Toy Store.

“About eight years ago I was talking to a couple of blokes about this show and they said they also went.

“One of them was in my class at Spurley Hey School. He said he didn’t have a proper cowboy hat, he borrowed his grandad’s hat.”