Monday, September 1, 2014

Cavemen invade Pendleton for bull-riding showdown

Pendleton’s Main Street Cowboys put on a week-long show on four blocks of Main Street during the Pendleton Round-Up each year. Music, comedy and magic fill stages on every block, with something different happening every hour from 2 p.m. through midnight Wednesday through Saturday. These days the Main Street show during Round-Up is a little tamer than it used to be; some residents can remember when the Cowboys staged a mock gunfight on Main Street as part of the show, complete with men falling out of windows and such. The Cowboys also used to greet celebrities and other important visitors throughout the year — sometimes on horseback with guns (loaded with blanks) blazing — as official representatives of the Round-Up City.

As part of the 1957 Round-Up celebration, Pendleton was invaded by a group of cavemen from Grants Pass intent on a bull-riding showdown with the Cowboys. Bill Foster, president of the Main Street Cowboys, received a telegram from the Oregon Cavemen challenging the Cowboys to a bull-riding duel during Round-Up. “Cavemen very disturbed at Main Street Cowboys’ boasting. We riders of the dinosaurs challenge you to a bull ride, bulls being small compared to dinosaurs, thus making this a very safe bet.” The Cavemen wagered a priceless “sabre-tooth tiger skin” against Pendleton’s best spotted calf hide, claiming five to one odds in their favor.

Once the challenge was accepted, the posturing began. Rushing to the aid of the Cowboys were the La Grande Blue Mountain Boys, who offered their squirrel rifles to back up the Cowboys “if the cave critters git out of hand.” When the Cavemen cried foul, the Cowboys countered that they had heard the Cavemen had enlisted the help of the Lone Ranger and a secret weapon (a trained skunk). An attempt by the Cavemen to enlist the help of the Sixth Army Bagpipers was unsuccessful.

The Cavemen’s dinosaur riding champion, Princess Lulu Smith, was kidnapped by the Cowboys prior to the bull-riding battle, allegedly for her own protection. “Any Westerner ought to know a dinosaur is a lazy, half-dead beast and a bull is a high-spirited animal,” said Foster. Cavewomen captured a Cowboy in retaliation, but he was liberated the following night after a rooftop gun battle. The Cavemen were still searching for Princess Lulu as they participated in the Westward Ho! Parade at the wrap-up of the festivities, bashing heads along the way (presumably with foam clubs).

Without their champion, the bull-riding contest was a bust; the Cavemen did, however, take time from their search to visit local service clubs to exchange greetings and mementos between the two cities.

As for the Lone Ranger? Clayton Moore, the man who played the original Lone Ranger on the TV series, was scheduled to appear during the 1957 Round-Up, including an appearance on Main Street. Thousands of youngsters showed up, only to be disappointed when he slipped out the side door of the Temple Hotel in street clothes. When Moore appeared during the televised portion of the finals on Saturday, he was greeted with more boos than cheers, and later apologized for what he called “a horrible misunderstanding.”

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