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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yippee Ti Yi Yo

While looking at pictures of Red Wing dinnerware, I ran across pictures of the Round-Up and Chuck Wagon patterns, which made me a little nostalgic about the cowboy craze of the 1950s and 1960s.

While 1950s cowboy décor is considered little more than kitschy today, we were dead serious about our “Westerns” back then.  In fact, families planned their week’s activities around which program was on TV on any particular night, and there were plenty to plan around.  Of course, the longest running was Gunsmoke, but there were many others.  Have Gun-Will Travel, Rawhide, The Rifleman, Maverick, Bat Masterson, Colt .45. Cheyenne and Bonanza are names that come to mind quickly.  By some tallies, there were as many as 120 western-themed series on television during those years.

We took turns being the Lone Ranger or Roy Rogers or Gene Autry when we played cowboys with our friends.  Feminism hadn’t arrived yet, so I don’t remember ever wanting to be Dale Evans.  Everyone had a felt cowboy hat and a Mattel six shooter.  If you were lucky, you had real leather boots and a red vinyl stick horse.  Missing the Sky King show on Saturday morning was unthinkable, and we could all sing "The Ballad of Paladin," Have Gun-Will Travel's theme song.

My parents had streamlined champagne-finished birch tables and a sleek turquoise sofa, but I remember friends whose parents had maple wagonwheel coffee tables and matching chairs with horse or steer heads appliquéd or embossed on them.  My parents’ living room seemed so boring by comparison!

Kitschy or not, the cowboy style Red Wing dinnerware is fetching a nice price these days.
  A few months ago, I found a huge, pristine set of Russel Wright Iroquois Casual on craigslist for $100.  When I picked it up, I saw that the woman also had a full set of Round-Up, and I hoped I might be able to talk her into an equally incredible deal on it too, but she wanted hundreds of dollars for it.  Alas, in all likelihood, I shall remain forever yee-hawless.

James Arness as Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke

Classic felt cowboy hat with white stitching

Mattel six shooter

Wagon wheel furniture

Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels as The Lone Ranger and Tonto

Wagon wheel decor
in the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans suite
Ruby Montana's Coral Sands Inn, Palm Springs, CA

Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain in The Rifleman

Red Wing Round-Up cruets and casserole

Red Wing Chuck Wagon (far left)
and Round-Up (second from left)
Yes, that's right.  Chuck Wagon doesn't have a chuck wagon.


  1. I've found that *most* mid-century cowboy stuff and asian stuff sells for very affordable prices, for the most part. I think they are under appreciated simply because there isn't as much of a desire for them as other mid-century styles.

  2. I live in Texas, where the interest in cowboy culture has never completely disappeared over the decades. In the past few years, however, there has been a real spike in the popularity of western-themed decor, with huge metal Lone Stars showing up on the exteriors of the most unlikely homes. The high prices for cowboy mid-century pieces may be a regional phenomenon.