Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Warren Darden (Heber Springs)

Ernie's "REMEMBERING THE RIALTO" (7/13/04 & 11/27/05) was a great - as is everything he writes - article. He reaches the true emotions in our souls, sometimes with a laugh, sometimes with a tear.

His mention of Smiley Burnett can be verified by the attached photo. I wonder how many others out there have one?

I do have a question: Who's sidekick was he, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, etc.? I don't recall.

Keep up the good work!

Tom Pry (Searcy)

Thanks, Warren, and I’m sure Ernie appreciates the kind words, too.

Smiley Burnette was one of Gene Autry’s sidekicks, as well as doing the same for Roy Rogers; in fact, there are some who would say he invented the “comic sidekick” character as a category (see below), both as “Smiley” and as “Frog Millhouse.” And I picked up the following fact I didn’t know when I went out and Googled him:

Smiley Burnette (musician/composer) - You may have seen him on TV's "Petticoat Junction" or "Green Acres" playing Charlie, the engineer of the Cannonball. But Smiley Burnett got his start writing songs for cowboy star Gene Autry and this led to co-starring roles in many of Autry's movies and Roy Rogers' as well. Burnett is credited with creating the role of the comical sidekick that would make stars of Gabby Hayes, Pat Buttram, Andy Devine, and so many others. One of his most famous songs is the beautiful ballad, "Riding Down the Canyon."

He also had his own series on radio for awhile.

Anita Hart Fuller (Greer's Ferry)

Tom, you do such a good job with the photos..... I think it's a great addition to the website. I, too, know that is Roger "Dude" Duncan, but can't i.d. Bobby Lattimer.

Don't you just love the clothes we wore then? We looked so neat and respectable, and also intelligent. Kids today may be smart as Einstein but they look like idiots .... I was looking thru some of Mother's Harding College yearbooks recently; they were in the mid to late 50's. All the students looked so nice, the guys all had on slacks and nice shirts, leather shoes! The girls inskirts and sweaters, "dickies" and pearls. Hair all nice, becoming styles.

Tom (again)

Thank you, Anita, for the kind words. One of my main reasons for moving our site to Google’s Blogger was the ability to integrate photos into our articles, rather than paying $25 a year for the privilege of hanging links of limited capacity out to one side (Ernie, as you’ll recall, paid the last $25, and both Dan E. and I pay a price for the capacity to place pictures in Searcy Memories, of which we need feedback as to whether-or-not to continue). Glad you like what we’re doing with it: the more photos, the merrier!

And, speaking of photos, looking at the background of that picture of Smiley Burnette with Warren, there’s a story I’ll be happy to tell you off-line about the real Bozo (Larry Harmon) down in Miami one time … but not out where the mafia could see it.

Now, when we were in school, if you came out in public looking like crap, it was because you were working or just plain ole couldn’t afford better. Ernie Simpson, for instance, was poor as the proverbial churchmouse …. but his one vanity was working the summer away so he could afford to buy a couple of pair of honest-to-God genuine Levi jeans (five bucks a pair!) for the next school year.

Looking like a bag lady (with combat boots, yet!!) seems to be a fashion statement for both girls and women these days, so much so that, on those rare occasions when I see a gal (of whatever age) dressed attractively, it comes as a shock, and I’m sorely tempted to just stand there and gawk in appreciation.

Well, the pendulum seems to swing from one generation to the next, striving to hit the extremes at each swing. Maybe I’ll live long enough to see this particular pendulum work its way back to the other end of the clothing spectrum.


It’s wild, the things we know between us. Got a note Tuesday morning from Dan E. Randle asking us to fill in the gap in his memory about the identity of Gene Barnett. I Googled my mail and found that he’d been an addressee of one of Ernie’s missives, so I sent the query to Ernie, who almost instantly replied:

Gene Barnett was a brother to Frankie, the guy Maness tackled on the court square one Halloween night. Gene left Searcy in high school and came to Jonesboro, where he is now retired. Gene was along the class of my brother, Jim, Larry Nokes, Paul Teel, Babe Palmer, and Ernie McCormick. This was about 1963 or '64 maybe.

Next question, please.


Blogger SparkyMark said...

Until very recently my mom had a picture of her and Smiley Burnett exactly like this one! It was lost with a small box of her belongings in a recent move. She lived in Searcy as a kid. I can’t wait to show her this one.

9:51 PM  
Blogger SparkyMark said...

Until very recently my mom had a picture of her and Smiley Burnett exactly like this one! It was lost with a small box of her belongings in a recent move. She lived in Searcy as a kid. I can’t wait to show her this one.

9:52 PM  

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