Monday, February 26, 2024

Chadron Native Rubbed Shoulders with Stars

Ted Turechek grew up on a cattle ranch and went to school at Chadron High, where he graduated in 1953. One of 10 children, Ted pursued a career in law enforcement in California. Some years back, while attending a CHS reunion - we believe it was either his 50th or 60th reunion - Turechek shared a few of his experiences. One of them involved his assignment to a security detail for the filming of a CBS Television soap opera called Capitol.
 
There were 1,270 espisodes that aired over a five year period from 1982 to 1987. Among the stars of the series were Carolyn Jones, Richard Egan, Lana Wood, Julie Adams, and Rory Calhoun.   The Capitol story took place in the fictional suburb of Jeffersonia, near Washington, DC.  The drama focused upon families of feuding matriarchs, one of whom had spread lies about the other's father, a liberal Congressman named Judson, linking him to the communists during the McCarthy Hearings era.   Judson was portrayed by Calhoun.
In the above snapshot, Calhoun took time off from filming to say thanks to one of the officers assigned to security for the series - none other than Ted Turechek, in uniform at left.  On the other side of the dapper Calhoun is an unnamed groundskeeper at the historic Greystone Estates in a wooded area of Beverly Hills where the series was filmed. 

Interestingly, in a different era, Calhoun's relationship with law enforcement officers was not so cordial.

Born in Los Angeles, Calhoun was the son of a professional gambler.  Of Irish ancestry, he grew up in Santa Cruz, California.  When only 13, he reportedly stole a revolver and was sent to the California Youth Authority's Preston School of Industry reformatory at Ione.  He escaped while in the adjustment center at that facility.    More trouble followed as he learned to hot-wire cars.  Calhoun robbed several jewelry stores, stole a car and drove it across state lines, was captured and sentenced to three years in federal prison at Springfield, Missouri.   

After being released from prison just before his 21st birthday, he took on several jobs - ranging from a mechanic and logger to working as a miner, a cowboy, fisherman, truck driver, crane operator and firefighter.

In January 1944, at age 22, he met actor Alan Ladd, whose wife was a talent agent.  The Ladd's arranged for Calhoun to have a screen test.  After being cast in several uncredited roles, he began to appreciate the regular income and seemed to turn his life around – which was apparenty the case (except for punching a detective, which landed him back in prison for a time in 1945!)

From about 1950 on, Calhoun's professional acting career blossomed, with extended studio contracts, many leading roles, and recognition as an accomplished actor.  He was married three times – once to his first wife, and twice to his second wife.

But – wait a minute – this story isn't about Calhoun, it's about Ted Turechek!

As far as we know, Turechek never arrested Calhoun.  But Ted was involved in capturing...an.....outlaw robot?!

Only in California!  That will be our next story.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Shredded Wheat breakfasts with Straight Arrow!

by Larry Miller
Most followers of Dawes County Journal are likely old enough to remember "Straight Arrow," a radio show that became so popular that in 1949, the sponsor of the program, Nabisco Shredded Wheat, began producing Straight Arrow cards that would fit in their cereal boxes.  The cards separated the layers of biscuits and were inscribed with Injun-uities – a wide ranging collection of Straight Arrow tips ranging from Poisonous Snake Recognition to Finding Your Way in the Wilderness, and an abundance of other topics.
Pre-teen youth and older used to explore the hills and countryside of Dawes County.  Chadron kids would often find adventure just to the south of the college, near C Hill or a cave farther south and east, which some of us dubbed Blue Rock Cave.  Another popular site, especially for climbing, was King's Chair, which was perhaps a half-mile east of C Hill.  It required only a little bit of size and skill to climb up on top of the huge rock – probably of sandstone – and gaze northward to Chadron and beyond.  Having not re-visited those hills in some 60 years or so, I don't believe King's Chair any longer exists.  Another story!
Crawford youngsters had even more wooded hills practically surrounding the entire town, and I suspect more than just a few adventurers – young and old alike – have expored Lover's Leap, Crow Butte (Note: Check out Justin Haag's Panhandle Afield at the top of this page), and the many other fantastic places that make the Crawford-Fort Robinson area a favorite tourist attraction.
The Straight Arrow radio character was owned solely by Nabisco, which sponsored the show.  He reportedly was an orphaned Native American boy who'd been raised by a ranching family named Adams.  After the lad became aware of his Indian heritage, he adopted the identity and name Straight Arrow and used his skills to "do good and help the unfortunate."  
The radio show was so popular that Straight Arrow was soon a comic book character, too.
I must confess that I don't remember much about the radio programs – or Straight Arrow comic books.  But I certainly remember reading the Straight Arrow cards, while eating a bowl of Nabisco Shredded Wheat for breakfast!
Interestingly, Straight Arrow cards were produced for U.S. and Canadian residents.  In fact, many of the cards were produced  for French-speaking residents of Canada.   
The Straight Arrow cards have been a popular collectors item, too, but I hadn't seen one for a good half century, until a few were donated to the High Plains Western Heritage Center in Belle Fourche.
It was like seeing an old friend!

 




 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Crawford Fire Department members of Yesteryear


 We have no names for these fellows, but we suspect that someone may know a few of these gents....and might be kind enough to share them with us.  It's a great photo, courtesy of the Crawford Historical Museum.  Although the museum is closed for the season, we understand they'll be re-opening in mid-May. 

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Remembering the Blizzard of 1949

It was 75 years ago this month that the devastating "Blizzard of 1949" blew across the High Plains region of the heartland.  Nebraska ETV produced this video – including portions filmed in northwest Nebraska.
  



Thursday, December 7, 2023

Clayton Brown dies at age 95

by Con Marshall


One of the most prominent persons born and raised in Chadron, Clayton F. Brown, died at age 95 on October 17 at his residence in the Chicago suburb of Carol Stream, Ill.


His firm, Clayton Brown and Associates, became a national leader in buying and selling public securities.  A recent story in the Chicago Tribune  said it sold for $25 million in 1994 to what became Dain Bosworth, a huge brokerage and investment banking establishment.

                                                                 

A 1945 graduate of Chadron High School and a student at Chadron State College both before and after serving two years in the Navy, Brown never forgot his hometown.  For one thing, he married a Chadron High classmate, Charlotte Pascoe, who became the Chadron State homecoming queen in 1948. They were married in 1950 and for years afterwards periodically returned to visit friends and relatives.


He also was a devout Christian. The verse, Romans 12:11, “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord,” was written on the wall of his home office in Chicago.  He also held leadership roles in several large Christian organizations and supported those endeavors financially.

 

In addition, Brown used his business acumen and good fortune to bolster Chadron State improvement projects several times, including the renovation of Elliott Field twice and what is now known as the CSC Math Science Center of Innovative Learning in recent years. The couple was presented the college’s Distinguished Service Award in 2002.

 

Prior to that he had been a member of the national leadership committee that was organized to renovate the Elliott Field stadium. The Browns contributed $50,000 toward that project.


He noted then that he was very familiar with Elliott Field. He had played quarterback there both while attending Chadron High, which did not have its own field at the time, and as a freshman at Chadron State in the fall of 1945. That’s when Coach Ross Armstrong was intent on reviving the football program that had been abandoned for the previous two years because of World War II.


Brown recalled that he was on the field every minute of all four games the Eagles played (and lost) in ’45. There were fewer than 20 players on the team and several of them had not played high school football. 


He also was an excellent high school basketball player.   There were three Brown cousins—Clayton, Tom and Neil—all of them seniors, who started on the 1944-45 Cardinals that finished with a 21-6 record. One of the losses was by a 32-30 score to Sidney in the finals of the District Tournament.  The Maroons, as they were known then, went on to win the Class B championship at the State Tournament. Chadron is ranked No. 5 in the class in the book, “Nebraska High School Sports.” published in 1980.


When Brown turned 18 in January 1946, he left college and joined the Navy. After a two-year hitch, he returned to Chadron State in 1948. By then the football roster was loaded with grizzled war veterans, but he played enough as the third-team quarterback to letter again.


At that time, Chadron State was almost exclusively a teacher-training institution.  Thus, he transferred to the University of Colorado, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1952.  He also received a master’s degree in business from the University of Chicago in 1952.


In September 1952, Brown joined the Northern Trust Company in Chicago. He became vice president of the Bond Department and was employed there 15 years before founding his own firm. It initially had six employees and less than $100,000 in capital.  


When it was sold 42 years later, Clayton Brown and Associates had more than 160 employees and offices in Milwaukee, Detroit, New York, Dallas, Tallahassee and Miami, besides Chicago.  He was best known for his expertise in municipal bonds, but also branched out to include other bond products.


He was president of the Mutual Bond Club of America, national chairman of the Public Securities Association and a member of the district committee of the National Association Dealers, Inc.  The Chicago Tribune story, written by Bob Goldsborough, quoted a long-time employee as saying Brown sometimes held Bible studies in his office. A former senior vice president, Jim Couture, called Brown “a man who lived out his faith in everything he did.”


Culture also said Brown handled multimillion dollar transactions on the telephone, “and nobody ever doubted the integrity of the transaction that happened based on his word on the phone.”


Brown served on the boards of both Dallas Theological Seminary and the Navigators for 21`years, was a trustee of Wheaton College, a Christian institution in Chicago, and twice served as national chairman of Christian Business Men’s Committee.  The Browns attended the latter organization’s international meetings in foreign countries four times.


Brown said he was flattered in 2017 when Connie Rasmussen, representing the Chadron State Foundation, and Don Beebe, the CSC star pass receiver and an NFL player nine seasons, visited him. They told him about the drive to upgrade Elliott Field and the accompanying stadium that is named for Beebe.


Brown had not known about the project, but as they were leaving he told his visitors he’d “think and pray about becoming involved.”  Before long, his answer was “Yes,” in the form of $250,000.


I have a soft spot in my heart for Chadron and Chadron State College,” Brown said when contacted about his gift. “I appreciate what the college is doing. It provides a good, respectable education at a price people can afford. The Lord gave me peace about making the gift. I believe it meets the criteria of ‘every good work’ that is found in II Corinthians 9:8. 


We began our firm to represent Christ in the marketplace,” Brown added. “God is good. We were blessed.  This is the first significant contribution I have made that is not connected with spreading the gospel. I know Chadron State needs to keep up-to-date with its athletic facilities and I hope the fund-raising efforts are successful.


Ben Watson, chief executive director of the Chadron State Foundation, said Brown’s gift for the football facility upgrade actually totaled about $350,000 and that he also contributed to the Math and Science project after that.   


Brown once noted that even though he attended CSC only two years, many of his closest lifelong friends were ex-Eagles.  “There’s something about playing football together that is really special,” he explained.   Brown said he made the contribution in memory of his mother, an aunt and his wife, all Chadron State graduates.  He added, Charlotte “went to glory,” three years ago, or in 2014.


The couple had four children.  Clayton’s younger brother, the late Ron Brown, popularly known as “Speck,” also was a starter on excellent football and basketball teams at Chadron High in the mid- 1950s. 

               

 

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Remembering Glenn Denton (1950-2023)

NOTE:  Commital services at Beaver Valley Cemetery just northeast of Chadron, Nebraska will be held at 1:00 p.m., not 2:00 p.m. as previously announced in other media.




Glenn joined the Marine Corps after graduating from high school in 1968.  Glenn was a combat-wounded Purple Heart recipient.  He served 30 years and retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant.  In 1978, Glenn started Camp Hamilton Veterans Memorial Park, Inc. in Bakersfield, California.

Glenn is survived by his wife – the love of his life – Esther; children; grandchildren and siblings.  He was preceded in death by his father and mother; his brothers, Arthur Denton and Gerald Denton, and his sister Mildred Denton Frohman.

Honorary pallbearers include Jose Barron, Oscar Barron, Raul Barron, Greg Frohman, Ronnie Denton, Dave Tiensvold, Mark Marquez, and all of Glenn’s family and friends. Visitation will be held from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m., Thursday, December 7, 2023 at Chamberlain McColley's Funeral Home in Hot Springs, SD.

The funeral service will be held at 10:00 a.m., Friday, December 8, 2023, at Chamberlain-McColley’s Funeral Home in Hot Springs, SD.

Committal services will be held at 1:00 p.m. Friday, December 8, 2023 at the Beaver Valley Cemetery near Chadron, Nebraska.  Memorials may be given to Camp Hamilton Veterans Memorial Park. (CampHamilton.org)

Glenn E. Denton, Jr., 73, passed away November 25, 2023.  Glenn was born January 31, 1950, to Glenn E. Denton and Joyce (McLatchy Leavitt) Denton.  He attended Craven Creek School District 79 in a one room schoolhouse through the 8th grade.  He attended high school in Rushville, Nebraska for 9th and 10th grades and graduated from Polson, Montana High School in 1968.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Russell Thompson: a fascinating career!

It was just about 90 years ago this fall that the Nebraska Cornhusker football team – under the leadership of coach Dana Bible – appeared to be on the threshold of a great season.  Alas, it wasn't a "great" year, but thanks in part to a newcomer to the team, Whitney's Russell "King Kong" Thompson, the Huskers wrapped up the season with a 6-3 record, and a respectable 4-1 record in the old Big 6 Conference.  It was his second year of playing college ball – his first year was played with Chadron Teachers College.


The Chadron Journal headlined a story about Thompson's success with "Russell Thompson Makes Good on Cornhusker Team."  Thompson, who played tackle, stood 6ft. 4in. and checked in at 234 pounds, proved to be fast and agile for his size.  The paper observed that early in the season, Thompson had a "poor start because he lacked a thorough grounding in fundamentals and a noticeable absence of "fire."  

But he did a quick about-face and reportedly turned in brilliant performances against Missouri and Kansas.  "He is a coming star" said the Journal, noting that Thompson – dubbed "King Kong" – was a veritable stone wall on defense in the season finale against Missouri with the Huskers winning 13-6.    He also revealed an ability to block on offense, bringing "smiles to the Nebraska coaching staff."  Against Kansas, "the Jayhawks found this giant tackle impenetrable."  Nebraska won the game 3-0.

Thompson had played ball at Whitney High School, but newspaper stories say he transferred to Chadron High School, where, he played football and then one year with "Chadron Teachers College."    After being recruited by Nebraska, he played out his remaining three years of eligibility – lettering all three years.

In 1935, George Hallas, owner and coach of the Chicago Bears offered Thompson a contract for $90 per game.  He played four years for the Bears before playing his final pro football season with the Philadelphia Eagles.  He also played one season of semi-pro basketball.

Thompson married Mary Jo Norman in Whitney in 1941 before moving to Wyoming, where the couple ranched near Keeline.  He helped start the Niobrara Convservation District and also served in the Wyoming Legislature in 1981-82.  

Thompson died on February 12, 2001 in Scottsbluff.  The family had been living in Lusk, Wyoming, for several years. Surviving Thompson was his wife, Mary Jo; children Cody of Lusk; Leif and wife Brenda of Philo, Ill; Tom and wife Dixie of Whitney; Roxanne and husband Roy Sharp at the family ranch; Link and wife Debbie of Gordon; 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.