Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Git Along, Little Sticky Fingers

I've written here in the past about the popularity of cowboy and Western Americana items in the 1950s and 1960s.  I've seen everything from cowboy toys to greeting cards, lunch boxes to cameras, and everything in between at estate sales.  They're quite popular with collectors.

But until recently, I hadn't seen the cowboy motif as found on the vintage breakfast table.  Then, a couple of weeks ago at an estate sale for an elderly French couple (who immigrated to North America before World War II), I spotted these table napkin holders:

For some reason, they were in the bathroom of the couple's house, next to a rather nondescript soap dish.  But I think they must have originally been in the breakfast nook or on the dining room table.  One is in the shape of a pony wearing a Western saddle and bridle; the other is in the shape of a buckboard wagon, laden with supplies. 

The pony's face is quite detailed.

And the holders are reversible, so that a child (or adult) on either side of the table could see the image.  (Come to think of it, you could also use them to hold incoming or outgoing mail.)

In attempting to look up the history of cowboy-themed housewares, I discovered that many movie and TV cowboys were sponsored by breakfast food companies.  For example:

Tom Mix: Ralston Purina
Hopalong Cassidy: Post Grape-Nuts
Gene Autry:  Sparkies (Quaker puffed cereals)
Roy Rogers:  Mother's Oats (Quaker)
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans:  Post Cereals

Small cowboy-themed prizes (tiny horses and riders, rings, trading cards) could be found inside 0r outside the boxes of cereal.  

I also came across this blog post, which describes some of the ways movie and TV heroes of the 1950s and early 1960s had tie-ins with breakfast cereals:


My research also led me to lists of Movie, Radio and TV Cowboy "codes" -- words to live by, from the heroes of the fictional west.  The Roy Rogers Riders Club rules were:

Be neat and clean.

Be courteous and polite.

Always obey your parents.

Protect the weak and help them.

Be brave, but never take chances.

Study hard and learn all you can.

Be kind to animals and care for them.

Eat all your food and never waste any.

Love God and go to Sunday School regularly.

Always respect our flag and our country.

"Eat all your food and never waste any."  (And wipe your fingers and your mouth before you leave the table.)

More cowboy codes are available here:


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