The Oaters

By Will "Cherokee Slim" Lacey


Packing the mule

As new techniques in the late twenties slowed the old nervous flickers down
To the normal speed of everyday life, and along with the advent of sound,
Movie goers spun the theater turnstiles in a mob-like entertainment craze
To see and hear this marvelous medium that had changed in so many fine ways.

It was glitz and glitter 'stead of flick and flitter, and dialogue 'stead of a subtitle text,
And the ever surprised and happy public showed in droves to see what came next.
And the penny candy brigade was also considered. They sure couldn't leave them out.
Their nickels and dimes added up to dollars, so they rated without a doubt.

And alas, and behold, at least I was told, that's when B-Westerns were born,
Full of shoot-'em-ups, fisticuffs, riding and roping, and grabbing the bull by the horn.
So heroes, such as Bob Steele and Buck Jones, Tex Ritter and Durango and Roy,
Were dreamed up to catch the hard-to-hold interest of the average girl and boy.

They had to be the smartest, toughest hombres around, whose guns never needed reloading,
Whose hats would stay on in any barfight, while dazzling with their singing and yodeling.
They had to make do out in the badlands for weeks, with scarce water and a hardtack biscuit,
Where nobody else in the world could survive, or would even consider to risk it.

They'd want to find some oaf for a sidekick, who deep down was loyal and true,
Or an Indian kid or grandpa sort, or an ex-rodeo clown might do.
Someone to really buddy up with, to vanquish the hustlers and rustlers.
True pals through thick and thin, and blizzards and 'northers' and dusters.

Meantime they'd be saving some ranch and securing the deed, while adding on another good friend.
Then they'd kiss their horses and hit the sunset trail as the screen would read "The End."
Their cussing was never more than "Oh, goldang" or "Well, I'll be dad-burned,"
And they'd leave the townsfolk with pleasant thoughts and a right true lesson well learned.

Monogram and Republic Studios were most prolific in making "B's,"
While for nearly thirty years the phenomenon raced like a wild, incurable disease.
But the 'Oaters', as they were so aptly nicknamed, after the horses' oats and hay,
Like an old tired hound, found the end of the trail and are just happy memories today.

By Will "Cherokee Slim" Lacey - November 29, 1994

Will Cherokee Slim Lacey