What does one say about someone that knew two of the of countries most notable wit and wisdom characters of the late 1800’s and into the Twentieth Century? Well one would be best to ask Uncle Josh Weathersby of Punkin Center. Uncle Josh aka Cal Stewart was a grand gentleman of the early sound recordings put out by Thomas Edison and Mr Stewart portrayed him with folksy excellence. Born June 14, 1856, Mr. Stewart was the voice for Uncle Josh and his early on characterizations lent an enviable touch to demonstrating to the public of home-spun yarn and tale.As mentioned, Cal Stewart made the acquaintance and friendship of two American icons of mirth and story, Mark Twain and Will Rogers. He met this gentleman while travelling the country presenting his Uncle Josh persona in vaudeville and medicine shows. Due in large part to their similar love of comedy, these masters of their craft aided Cal Stewart in his growing popularity and appreciation. It was because of America’s love of the Punkin Center resident that Thomas Edison invited Stewart, in 1897, to make permanent a number of the Uncle Josh monologues on his newly invented recording device. People could instantly identify the voice of Stewart’s by the pronounced laughter that was unique to him. “Uncle Josh’s Arrival in New York” (1898) and “Uncle Josh’s Huskin’ Bee Dance” (1901) are just two of the many Uncle Josh recordings made by Cal Stewart. These recordings, along with other favorites made people laugh and cry as they listened to the Will Rogers of PunKin Center commiserate about slow country life. His style of ‘yokum’ endeared him to many of his radio audience. Sadly, America lost this gentleman’s storytelling in 1919 but his recordings continued to resonate for a long time after and can still be found today.
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
We salute the 1891 birth of Dear John star, Irene Rich. Rich's co-star was Gale Gordon, star of Our Miss Brooks, and the show was broadcast Sunday nights on the Columbia Network.
The flapper was a frequent contributor of Will Rogers, starring in such silent films as The Strange Boarder and Jes' Call Me Jim.
Share your cherished memories of Ms.Rich in our "comments" section!
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Today marks the birthday, in 1907, of Gene Autry, song-writer, singer, cowboy, singing cowboy, actor, radio star, and baseball team owner.
A teenage Autry took a job operating a telegraph wire, sending people's messages for them. One day, in walked the comedian Will Rogers. Autry, a good worker though he may have been, happened to have been playing a guitar between customers. Rogers was impressed with what he heard and encouraged Autry to go into show biz.
To Autry this meant landing a spot of Tulsa's KVOO, billed as "Oklahoma's Yodeling Cowboy."
From there it was a successful radio career that would then propel Autry into the role of radio host, taking the helm of a show sponsored by Wrigley's. The CBS show put on a spread, not just of music and comedy, but even drama. It lasted a lot longer than a stick of gum: 16 years in all.
In the spirit of honoring that kind of longevity, we take off our hats and offer a cowboy salute to Gene Autry.
Friday, August 7, 2015
Legend has it that exactly a dozen (not even a baker's dozen, but a true dozen) people tuned in to the inaugural broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion in 1974. It is now an NPR staple, playing to millions.
The show includes skits and songs, Keillor's character Guy Noir, and his famed Tales From Lake Wobegon, the fictional Minnesota hamlet that exemplifies the Midwestern folksiness for which Keillor is renowned.
Much lampooned, often for his breathy voice that hazards the line between radio host and obscene phone caller, Keillor is also an heir to Will Rogers, a beloved awe-shucksy quasi-humorist.