Meeting Gene Autry in person

by Mike Newton
(Hamilton, Ohio)

In 1951, my Dad took my sister and me down to the Boston Gardens to see Gene Autry with his rodeo. At that time, we were living in Concord, N.H. The Boston and Maine RR ran right under the Gardens. We sat and watched the rodeo performers do their thing. Gene came out with Champion, sang "On Top Of Old Smokey," and Champion did some tricks. Dad suggested that we go down to his dressing room to get his autograph, since his part of the show was over. We came down the stairs into the hallway. He was just coming out of the dressing room, dressed in his business suit and Stetson. He got waylaid by some Girl Scouts who wanted his autograph. He should have had some photos presigned to pass out but he didn't. We could hear him say, "If I give you my autograph, everybody upstairs will want it." Dad drew me aside and said," Don't say anything about Roy Rogers (I was a big fan) and I'll see if I can get his autograph. Dad went up to Gene and introduced us. He said "This is my son, Michael, its his birthday, could we have your autograph." Dad had a small spiral notebook with him. He was a newspaper reporter and Gene signed it. Then he was gone. I still have the autograph pasted in my autograph book, along with Cisco and Pancho's, Johnny Mack Brown, and Roy Rogers. Years later, I sent Gene a color photo for him to sign, but his secretary wrote back to say that he was no longer signing. I think Roy and Dale made more of an overture to welcome their fans by riding around the ring, but it was still great to meet Gene Autry.

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