Cowboy Rodeo Circuit Rider's Photo Album, Circa 1938 - 1950
(n. p.): Circa 1938-1948. 26 x 33 cm. Customized leather album containing over 180 b&w photos of varying sizes on 21 black construction paper leaves and laid in (some apparently having come loose of their corner mounts), plus a number of participation passes and tickets, newspaper clippings, a handful of drawings and school material, 11 cloth and/or canvas armbands and numbers worn while competing, plus one cardboard "1st place" placard. Approximately a third of the photos are captioned in white ink.
Leaves detached from binding and chipping at edges, with occasional modest loss. Images mostly sharp and clear. Good.
The photo album and scrapbook of Jack "Pecos" Whatley, a rodeo circuit rider from Douglas, Arizona, documenting rodeos and fellow riders and friends in Arizona, California, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Ohio, New York, Delaware, and Mexico. The majority of these photos are portraits of riders and show performers before, after or en route to shows, capturing the comaraderie on the circuit among men and women. Also included are photos of riders during the rodeos, riding bulls and bucking broncos, lassoing calves, and, more often than not, mid-fall to the ground; these photos are particularly riveting, revealing the drama and danger of rodeo riding.
Meek Luther Whatley, also known as Jack "Pecos" Whatley" (1920 - 1975) was the son of a cowboy/ cattleman (Stonewall Jack Whatley) and appears to have been a natural on the rodeo circuit, a solid rider who seems to have rarely won but who competed frequently and obviously felt at home on the circuit. In 1950, he was charged with manslaughter for killing a friend in a bar fight; it is unclear from initial research if he was convicted, although that might explain the album's termination around that time.
An unusual look at rodeo riding during the war years.