My grandparents, on my father’s side, lived on Oak Street, one half block off Laurel Avenue, from my earliest memory, until they passed. During that 1960s, we visited often and would walk over to the Whittier Quad Shopping Center to the Hinshaw’s department store or to one of the other stores. There was a bakery across the street from their house, as well as a laundry and café. At the time, the Quad was two rows of stores reaching from Hinshaw’s at one end to just short of Whittier Blvd. It was open between; the stores and had various plants and trees that made the space very inviting.
My father was a big fan of western movies and TV programs, and in particular, Rawhide. Rawhide was a popular show about cowboys driving cattle to market, starring Eric Fleming as the trail boss. His character was drawn from a diary written in 1866 by trail boss George C. Duffield.
We often would sit on the arms of my father’s chair and watch Rawhide with him. Westerns are still one of my favorite movie genres. On one particular day, my father told my brother and me that we were going to the Quad Shopping Center to meet Gil Favor and Rowdy Yates from Rawhide. He used their program names, as neither of us would have known Eric Fleming or Clint Eastwood. Rawhide ran from 1959 to 1966, so I believe it was in 1961 or 1962 when I met them in the center of the Quad Shopping Center. It was a bright sunny day.
We drove to my grandparents’ home and walked over from there. I was 5 or 6 years old. I remember holding my father’s hand as we made our way over to the Quad. We were standing directly against the stage and I was looking up at Fleming and Eastwood as they spoke. When they finished, my father talked to each of them and then they leaned down and each shook my hand. I was very excited that I had met two cowboys from our favorite TV show and got to shake their hands. It was a dream come true to meet real cowboys from TV.
After meeting them that sunny day, we continued to watch Rawhide, even after Fleming left the show after the seventh season. I remember some years later my father telling me that Fleming had died. Before he died (filming in Peru), Fleming made a few guest appearances on one of our other favorite westerns, Bonanza.
My father would take me and my brother with him various places so we could experience what he considered big events. Meeting the stars of Rawhide was one such event, as was riding the last Red Car and Angel’s Flight. But those are stories for another day.
Rawhide publicity photo of Clint Eastwood from Wikimedia Commons.