A favorite song of mine is something Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings wrote and recorded together. I have always been partial to story songs. Lyrics that tell the listener something, not just repeated words. Some of the best teaching of elementary lessons has come from songs.
The song "The Night Hank Williams Came to Town," tells of what excitement might have gone through a community on the night the legendary country music star Hank came to town.
"I drove on out to Grapevine and picked old Mavis up
we crossed that county line for one quick round."
That song got me to thinking. Recently when my wife and I were in Cody, Wyoming we visited the Buffalo Bill museum. It is quite a place. I would highly recommend one visit if close to that area of the country. Cody is a town that Buffalo Bill is credited with founding. I really liked Cody.
Prior to our trip I had done some reading of Larry McMurty's book on the life of Bill Cody. To say the least he was quite a character. For example when five or six different women show up at your funeral all claiming their special affection and yours in return, that makes for interesting personal history. His coffin would be buried and sealed in cement as there were threats of stealing his body and buried somewhere else.
I wonder what it was like on May 17th, 1886 in my hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana. For you see that was the day that Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show came to town. So I did some researched with my hometown library in Terre Haute.
Cody himself had appeared previously in Terre Haute, Indiana first on October 9, 1873 at the Terre Haute Opry House. On this date Wild Bill Hickok also appeared with both of them staying at the Terre Haute House on Wabash Avenue. Just Cody, again appeared in Terre Haute in 1877, twice in 1879 and 1881, and once in 1882. Cody's Wild West show was known the world over as the show had appeared in Europe from 1887 to 1893. In 1885 the Wild West show set record attendance at the World Exposition in Chicago.
The Wild West Show traveled by train using twenty-six cars with two hundred and forty performers and a payroll of nearly seven hundred people. It was no small time operation it truly was amazing to see. When the Wild West show first appeared in Terre Haute crowds lined the streets for the 10 A.M. parade and over 12,000 tickets were sold for the afternoon performance.
"It was said of Bill Cody, Buffalo Bill that he was arguably
the most famous American in the twentieth century."
The last line in the Williams song says "It ain't often Hank Williams comes to town." Well it ain't often that the most famous American and his Wild West Show comes to Terre Haute, Indiana.
June 15, 2017