Adventurer’s Club

Nothing Buddy was ever involved with brought him so much notoriety as “The Buddy Johnson Adventurer’s Club Show”. With the thousands of children who attended the show, over almost a decade, to this day is an object of conversation and smiles. Dad loved kids and it was apparent on the show which went through a number of variations before settling on a name.

At one point it was “The Buddy Johnson Big Mac Show” for awhile, but finally the format and the name settled on what we generally remember today. On some of the very early shows he rode up to the Buckskin Joe's train station to start the show, this was scrapped and Dad and Chubby began their filmed commutes from and to Beulah.

One of my favorite photographs of Dad on “The Adventurer’s Club Show”. Here he is interviewing old friend Gene Autry, they had met a number of times when Autry appeared here at the State Fair, and when he had a new record sometimes he was on Dad’s radio shows on KGHF and later KCSJ. Autry was an ordinary, cordial man from Texas. Notice how many children were packed in the large studio, to be able to watch a live TV production was a treat, but what a special treat to be some of the very few actually shown on screen! Dad’s band must have been backing up Gene that night as Dad’s long time violin player Duke Farrin can be seen watching from the wings at far left with the white cowboy hat.

It was a time when lots of nationally recognized talent toured the country’s brand new, still few and far between TV stations touting their latest TV show, film, or record. An interesting short period of roughly a decade that Dad was right in the middle of.

This is a show rundown for the ‘Adventurer’s Club Show’.  For every show such a rundown of the activities is prepared. Interestingly, in this particular show rundown in the ‘Copy’ section it notes “all promotion is changed to title Buddy Johnson Show” and that they will “Delete Big Mac Name”, so with this letter the show most baby boomers remember takes on its final name “The Buddy Johnson Adventurer’s Club Show”.

Art work for the show: upper left, kids lined up outside the Chief Theater on main street to see Buddy at some event; upper right, "Princess Columbine” (Jada Willard, who later moved to Denver) she was a great help to Dad with all the little ones who were a handful; bottom right Dad watches Jada play the piano; and bottom left, a young 36 year old Buddy Johnson. They both truly loved “Adventurer’s Club”.

The most valuable ticket which children watched the mail for weeks to get.

Proof that one had actually been there. In later years, tickets would have Dad’s signature stamped instead of his signed signature.

An early ad for the show. Notice the kids going this way and that ("It was like trying to herd cats!"). This is probably from 1953 or 54. Notice the very early B&W studio camera on the mobile tripod which had wheels. The black handle on the back allowed the operator to change lenses, zoom lenses were way in the future. Also, heres Chubby in action, what a trooper!

Another classic shot of Buddy, Princess Columbine and Koko the Clown. During the show Dad would have frequent conversations with Koko who had quite a personality and often would make Dad and the kids laugh. It was the Golden Age of early television what can I say. Everyone was trying things to see what worked in the new medium, lots worked and many things didn’t, but they just pushed on with a laugh. A viewer today would be struck at how raw and authentic early TV was. The original of this framed image is in the Beulah Historical Society Museum.

Here Dad talks to both Koko and "Pierre the chef". Pierre was full of himself and something of a stuffed shirt. Whereas Koko had a very high pitched voice, Pierre had a lower and heavily French accented voice. The painted TV box was used when they went into a cartoon or a short segment of a serial like  Tarzan.

Buddy and Ned Taylor after a show. Ned later became a station manager in Missoula, Montana. Ned Taylor had a great sense of humor and it came through his puppets Koko and Pierre the Chef. Pierre was French of course and somewhat snooty, which was a running joke on the show. Also notice the wired mike, this was way before the smaller wired mikes, or for sure, the tiny wireless mikes of today.

There were always lots of guests, here Fred Harmon (writer of the “Red Ryder” and  “Little Beaver” comic strips) is interviewed by Buddy while Little Beaver (here played by a young Robert Blake) stands nearby, as the kids fidget in the background. Fred who had partnered with Walt Disney at one point was from Pagosa Springs and often was in Pueblo on Dad’s shows. Pagosa still has a museum honoring Harmon and his work.

Columbine tries to keep the ‘natives' quiet as Buddy talks to" Little Beaver" Blake.

A mother’s birthday request.

And another from a mother, but the best ones were from the little ones.

A young viewer’s envelope front. Sometimes they would simply be addressed to “Buddy” and they would get to Dad.

Back of the envelope, I love the seriousness with which many of these letters were sent.

A young fan’s request showing the heartfelt urgency which the letters from children often displayed.

One day’s correspondence tally to KCSJ TV for the Adventurer’s Club Show. This pretty much shows the over the air broadcast signal range for KCSJ TV at the time. Oddly though,  because of the way over the air broadcasting can change with just the right cloud and weather conditions his signal could, on occasion go much, much further. The signal can skip like a rock over the surface of a pond, in this case between the ground and clouds. We have a polaroid sent from a viewer which was labeled on the back " June 5, 1961 6:20 p.m. in Montgomery, Alabama”.

Lots of sponsors like Western Auto, Kress's, Woolworth, and Skaggs stores toy areas. Here Gambles shows off their new bikes while Buddy, Princess Columbine and Police Officer Harold Sell give an announcement and most everyone has a Hiawatha bike headpiece on. Harold was a long time family friend who when he was off duty, Dad regularly hired to be at dances at Buddy’s Gayway Park in Beulah. Harold at well over 6 feet never had any trouble.

There were always things kids could do to be involved in the show from their homes. This was one child’s submission for jokes which Dad would tell on the show. I think if Dad used a child’s joke on the program, then they were given tickets to be on the show.

A number of people have contacted me since I posted this website with stories and images which I didn’t know existed. My cousin Joann (Trabucco) Graham wrote me that she remembered performing a tap dance on the show when she about 10 or 11. One person  even emailed me from Argentina!

Dad particularly liked Rex Allen who was at the State Fair a number of times and Buddy’s band the Colorado Rangers would back him up with music. A very regular gentleman. I think Rex talked to Koko the Clown puppet and mentioned that his horse’s name was also Koko, if I remember right Koko took the news with amazement to which Rex let out a huge laugh.

On this trip to The Adventurer’s Club he brought some of his friends with him, probably to be interviewed later in the evening on Dad’s evening radio broadcast. My sister Kitty was a Beulah Saddle Club attendant at the time and remembers how nice Rex was to her, the Queen and other attendants, signing their sashes and talking with them at length.

The treasured Adventurer’s Creed which each child received after attending the live TV show on Pueblo's 'Big Hill'. The 'Time For Adventure' was a theme throughout the show. There were the games Dad had them play and the ‘ADVENTURE cave containing a trunk of prizes. Under the letters 'ADVENTURE’ keys were hidden to possibly open the trunk. Lastly, was the showing of a short bit of a Tarzan film.

When the show was cancelled in 1962 it was one of the top rated local TV shows with 4 months of booked reservations.

Bob Hope who had previously purchased KOA TV in Denver purchased KCSJ TV in Pueblo in 1962. He changed the name to KOAA TV and changed the local format to convey more network fare which was cheaper to produce and had less overhead. An era which lasted about a decade was over and with it most of the regular local production except for news, weather and sports. TV stations basically became conduits for production from the coasts.

But, what a WONDERFUL time it was. Most of these children would probably be in their 60’s or 70’s today.           © John Johnson 2019       All rights reserved.