Friday, March 27

I well remember seeing Tex Ritter entering the rear entrance of the Virginia Theater in Hazard in 1939. I did not see his stage show which was at the Family Theater that Sunday. My friend and I saw him as we were coming down Baker Hill from our 6th grade class. We spotted him and ran over and asked for his autograph. We had our school books and one of us had a brand new package of Blue Horse notebook paper which was a popular brand in those days. Tex signed the back of the label, thusly: "Sy Tex Ritter." You may think coming down Baker Hill from the sixth grade sounds odd since that was where the high school was located. However at the time, sixth grade was taught by Mrs. Larid (Florence) Watts in the Hazard High School building. She was my favorite teacher over all the twelve years of school. She used to drive a long way every day from where she lived, somewhere beyond Vicco I think. One winter when there was a lot of snow on the ground, she could not make it up Baker Hill. My brother, who was about sixteen at the time, and got behind the wheel and drove her up to the school.

In 1942 I met Wild Bill Elliott, a popular cowboy of yesteryear. He specialized in playing the rugged heroes of B-Westerns, particularly in the Red Ryder series of films. Elliott did a stage show at my grand-uncle's movie house, the Pastime Theater in Vicco. He stayed at my relatives home because, I'm assuming, there were no hotels in Vicco. I don't recall seeing any there in those days. We all had dinner together the next day. I remember my cousin Nellie and I took sandwiches and lemonade to Elliott and his wife who stayed in one of the girls' bedrooms. The two of them were still in bed and had a little dog that slept between them. Another Hollywood star that appeared at the Pastime in 1941 or 1942 was a character actor by the name of Chris-Pin Martin. He was of Mexican descent, and he put on a good stage show with music, skits, etc. He had a large trailer, where he and his entourage stayed. If you've seen any of the old Betty Grable movies, Chris-Pen Martin would be the man who drove the wagon on the hayride or the person who took care of the stables.

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