A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 03, 2007
Rodeo

"Rodeo” is Spanish for “round up.” Pecos claims that it held the first “rodeo” (a spectator event as we know it today) on July 4, 1883. The claim is debated by other towns.


Texas Yes!
Pecos
Destination:
Pecos, “Home of the World’s First Rodeo”
Where You’ll Find It:
Big Bend Country Region; on Interstate 20; 78 miles west of Odessa. (Reeves County)

Texans Who Call This Home:
9,650

Snapshot:
Home of the world’s first rodeo, western history, Pecos Bill (a mythical cowboy born of tall tales and raised by coyotes), sweet cantaloupes and real cowboys - Pecos has it all, including excitement for the future. Established in 1881 as a stop on Texas & Pacific Railroad, Pecos became known nationwide for its sweet cantaloupe served in dining cars all along the railroad’s east-west route. During World War II, Pecos was selected as the site for one of the largest B1-13 training centers.

Don’t Miss:
Night in Old Pecos/Cantaloupe Festival: June
West of the Pecos Rodeo: July
16th of September Fiesta: September
Reeves-Loving County Fall Fair: October.

Come See:
West of the Pecos Museum: Preserving the history and lore of Texas, west of the Pecos River since 1963.
Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame
Maxey Park and Zoo
Reeves County Municipal Golf Course

West of the Pecos Rodeo
Around 1873, Pecos was developing into a center for the many ranches in the area. It was nothing for a cowboy to ride 50 to 75 miles to spend his pay in Pecos’ business district, which was mostly saloons. That may have been why in 1883 all of the cowboys were in town to chal-lenge each other to a 4th of July Rodeo. Whatever the reason, Pecos boasts the “Home of the World’s First Rodeo” and the tradition continues today. Pecos became a wholesale and distri-bution center for communities with a 200 mile radius until the late 1940s"The History of the World’s First Rodeo”
by Bonnie Cearly

RODEO - Just to think of rodeo time brings excitement to many people. Excitement was in the dusty air of Pecos in 1883 when a few cowboys met to ding out who was the best at riding and roping. From the beginning of time, there has been competition among men. So it was with those horsemen who made a living in the daily chores about the ranch headquarters or trailing a herd of cattle in the wind, dust, and rain storms.

As these men crossed trails and met in places such as Pecos, there always came the question, “who is the best?” Trav Windham had become well known after trail driving cattle from Abilene to the Hashknife land just north and west of Pecos. This ranch had been established as a place for cattle to beef, to feed workers on the T&P Railroad, which was moving west from Sweetwater. Deciding to quit the trail, Windham later became foreman for the Lazy Y outfit. Morg Livingston of the NA ranch had earned a reputation also as a roper. Both men had friends, but telling or bragging could not determine a winner. So it was decided that these two would meet in a contest. Word spread quickly and other cowboys also wanted to compete to prove their abilities.

A place was chose, on the flat land west of the river. History has it about where the present courthouse and law enforcement buildings are located. The time was chosen....July 4th. That was a holiday, and most people, ranchers, cowboys and townspeople could attend. When that day came, there were horses, there were wagons, there were people walking - coming from all directions to see what was going to happen, and to find out how their favorite cowboy would fair.

Most stories about that day concerned the time it took Trav Windham to rope and tie his steer - 22 seconds - to win that event. Then later Morg Livingston beat Windham in matched roping. Before the day was over, cowboys from the Hashknife, W, Lazy Y, and the NA spreads were in action. One story from that day named Pete Beard of the Hashknife and Jeff Chism as having walked away with honors. Others named were: Jim Mannin, John Chalk, George Brookshire, Howard Collier, Jim Livingston, Brawley Oates, Jim and Henry Slack, E.P. Stuckler and Henry Miller.

Henry Slack, grandfather of R.C. Slack of Pecos, was probably the youngest rider there. He did not remain a cowboy and was a business man, but he never lost his love for the cowboy life. He was a famous figure from that cowboy event. He was able for many years to lead or ride in the rodeo parades when they began in the early 30’s. Many people came to know and respect “Uncle Henry”. The late Evelyn Slack Mahoney often recalled stories her father, Henry Slack, told her about being there on July 4th, 1883.

Around 1873, Pecos was developing into a center for the many ranches in the area. It was nothing for a cowboy to ride 50 to 75 miles to spend his pay in Pecos’ business district, which was mostly saloons. That may have been why in 1883 all of the cowboys were in town to chal-lenge each other to a 4th of July Rodeo. Whatever the reason, Pecos boasts the “Home of the World’s First Rodeo” and the tradition continues today. Pecos became a wholesale and distri-bution center for communities with a 200 mile radius until the late 1940sAround 1873, Pecos was developing into a center for the many ranches in the area. It was nothing for a cowboy to ride 50 to 75 miles to spend his pay in Pecos’ business district, which was mostly saloons. That may have been why in 1883 all of the cowboys were in town to chal-lenge each other to a 4th of July Rodeo. Whatever the reason, Pecos boasts the “Home of the World’s First Rodeo” and the tradition continues today. Pecos became a wholesale and distri-bution center for communities with a 200 mile radius until the late 1940s

(Oxford English Dictionary)
rodeo
orig. U.S.
[a. Sp. rodeo a going round, a cattle-ring, etc., f. rodear to go round.]

1. A driving together of cattle in order to separate, count, inspect, or mark them; a round-up.
1834 DARWIN Jrnl. 16 Aug. in Voy. Beagle (1839) III. 311 Once every year there is a grand ‘rodeo’ when all the cattle are driven down, counted, and marked. 1851 Laws California xcii, Every owner of a stock farm shall be obliged to give yearly one general rodeo. 1891 B. HARTE First Fam. Tasajara vii, Her native-bred animal fondly believed that he was participating in a rodeo.

2. A place or enclosure where cattle are brought together for any purpose.
1847 W. C. L. MARTIN The Ox 24/1 To collect the herd once a week, driving them from all quarters to a rodéo, or circuit, where an account is taken of their numbers. 1866 Athenæum 24 Nov. 672/3 In fine weather they are left on the ‘rodeo’, a bare piece of ground near the house, to which they are driven to pass the night.

3. a. A public exhibition of skill, often in the form of a competition, in the riding of unbroken horses, the roping of calves, wrestling with steers, etc.
1914 B. M. BOWER Flying U Ranch 16 They have them rodeos on a Sunday, mostly, and they invite everybody to it, like it was a picnic. 1925 Annual Rodeo Program (Tucson, Arizona) 3 We extend a cordial invitation to you to come to Tucson for our Annual Rodeo. 1938 D. COOLIDGE Arizona Cowboys ii. 27 The round-up had just begun. They call it rodéo, in Spanish, but the cactus cowboys pronounced it rodér. The contest riders of today have given it another twist and call it ró-deo. 1940 Arizona (Arizona Work Projects Administration Writers’ Project) 72 That distinctively western entertainment, the rodeo, was originally an exhibition of cowboy skill in the regular activities of cattle ranch and range. But today it is largely commercialized and many of its features are of the circus type, remote from the cowpuncher’s everyday life.
b. transf. A similar exhibition of competitive skill in the riding of motor-cycles, fishing, etc.; also used more generally of other types of competition. Also fig. Cf. ROADEO.
1927 My Oklahoma July 23/1 Oklahoma is going to have a state-wide baby rodeo next year.

Campaigns and Cruises,
In Venezuela and New Granada, and in the Pacific Ocean;
From 1817 to 1830
in three volumes
("Vowell, Richard Longeville” is handwritten as the author—ed.)
London: Longman and Co.
1831
Volume One
Pg. 310: 
In Autumn, the rodeo takes place, on every large estate in Chile; and is a season of jubilee and merriment among the Huazos and peons throughout (Pg. 311—ed.) the country. This word literally signifies, the surrounding, and implies the operation of collecting and driving together all the cattle of the estancia, for the purpose of taking account of them, and branding such as have not yet received the proprietor’s mark; which is always some strange looking hieroglyphic, as letters are never used for this purpose. In the rodeo, the good horsemanship of the Huazos, and their dexterity in the use ofthe lazo, are conspicuously displayed.

8 March 1883, Forest and Stream, “On the Old Texas Trail,” pg. 103:
Upon the concerted day in the early spring of the year, the “rancheros,” as the pioneer settlers of Southwestern Texas were called, would start out with all the assistance they could muster, and encircling a wide radius, would drive all the cattle, etc., that they found toward one previously agreed upon point or “rodeo” ground, where each man would cut out his own cattle into a separate herd, the young calves of course following the mother cows; the unbranded calves which had been weaned from the cows, or “Mavericks” as they were called, were then divided equally among the parties who had assisted in the round up, and each ranchero would then drive his little herd to his corral, where he would brand the yearly increase.

July 1886, , “Cattle Ranching in the United States” by Ernest Ingersoll, pg. 557:
Haying is finished before the end of August, and the ranchman is ready to undertake the fall round-up (rodeo is the Mexican synonym) for the purpose of selecting the fat bevees—a task hardly inferior to the spring rodeo, and often requiring three weeks of steady camping and riding on the range.

11 March 1912, Los Angeles Times, pg. III3 comic:
Mr. Wad Meets Mr. Harold Hairpants, of Texas, Out at the Rodeo!

9 January 1913, Los Angeles , pg. II5:
GIRLS ENTER RODEO.

18 June 1989, New York Times, “Wrangling Over Where Rodeo Began” by Peter Applebome, pg. XX45:
First came Pecos, Tex., in the bleak, arid reaches of West Texas, which in 1983 celebrated the 100th birthday of “The World’s First Rodeo.” Some considered Peco’s claim a bit suspect because its West of the Pecos Rodeo had celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1979, but we’ll get back to that.
(...)
He (Clifford P. Westermeier, author of the 1947 history Man, Beast,Dust: The Story of Rodeo—ed.) noted that rodeo is Spanish for roundup, and in the broadest sense the roots of rodeo go back to the cattle first herded by the Spanish conquistadors. But he said a report he found in an old copy of the Field and Farm Journal of Denver led him to believe the first organized competition of cowboys for prizes was on July 4, 1869, at Deer Trail, Colo. If true, let history note that America’s first champion cowboy was an Englishman named Emilnie Gardenshire riding a horse named Montana Blizzard. For his troubles, he was named Champion Bronc Buster of the Plains and walked off with a new set of clothes.

In a 1985 book, “American Rodeo From Buffalo Bill to Big Business,” Kristine Fredriksson cited a rodeo five years earlier in Prescott, and said Prescott’s 188 contest, the first to charge admission, was the first to turn rodeo into a spectator sport.

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