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.