This interview transcript was taken off an old cassette tape sent to Yours Truly by Randall Hornback, who conducted the interview with Curley Bradley. The interview is not of the best audio quality, and there are a number of small errors in the transcription here. When I was not quite sure of a word or sentence, I inserted a (?), or a note in brackets. In the future hopefully there will be a way to digitize the audio and make that available as well.
Randall Hornback: Hello, Straight Shooters, this is Randall Hornback, and I hope that you enjoy the visit that I had with Curley Bradley in June of 1982. We paid a visit with the man, and the time that we spent with him out on his patio with his wife, I think you’ll find some interest here as he goes back into the days of radio and talks about the radio show, his horses, and a number of other featured (?) things. I hope you enjoy it.
Curley Bradley: You now, Randy, it’s…it’s kinda hard for me to philosiphise, because I’m not a philosopher, nor a philosopher’s son! But I try my best to look, you know, to reveal philosopher colors (?) But it’s sure nice havin’ you folks visit with me,
Randall: The pleasure’s mine, Mr. Bradley.
C: Boy, I tell you — now doggone! [laughing] Randy, I told you that you have to drop that “Mr.” business…. I’m not a ‘Mr.” to anybody. Well, it’s a pleasure to find young folks like yourself who happen to remember me. You was telling me about your two boys, what’s their names?
R: Chris and Randy. Randy’s the oldest one, Curley.
C: Cris and Randy, huh, well that’s two nice names. I used to have a horse by the name of Randy, by golly.
R: How ’bout that?
C: Yeah, he was a little sand colored horse. He was a good one, but he, he was kinda stubborn that every morning when I took him out, he always thought that he was the boss. So, then, we had a little bucking contest. Bucking….silly..but he found out that I was still up there, so he thought, ‘shucks, I’m not gonna waste all my energy here, so let’s take a run.’ So, we’d run.
I had Randy, and Lucky,
R: Yeah, I ‘member you talking about Lucky,
C: Well, he was that horse I rode across country,
R: Uhuh, Right,
C: And then I had Croppy, he was another one of my horses that I rode on. And then, of course, Tony, Tony #3, I had Tony jr. And then I had Ranger, he was a good [letter ridin’?!] horse that I aquired, and he was a good horse, but I lost him with pneumonia. It was a funny thang, because he was big, strong, well horse, and it come a rain one night and the boy I had workin’ for me didn’t tell me that the roof leaked, and it leaked, and he caught pneumonia and died. He would have been five years old the following June if he hadn’t died.
But Tony, of course, he—– Tony I gave him to a young lad whose name was Michaels down at the Ralston company, working in the advertising agency, and he had a son whose name was Jerry, who was an adopted boy. And this boy, some way, I guess, some of his little schoolmates–but I guess he wasn’t little then, he was going to high school– but he found out that he was adopted. And that hurt him. Well, Mr. Michaels told me that they were gonna tell him as soon as that year was out because they figured he was old enough to know. Well, it just broke that boy’s heart. And I finally sit down and talk to him one time, in St. Luis with his mom and his daddy, and told him, I said, ‘Jerry, there’s one thing you can’t seem to get through your head,’ I said, ‘You know, when your mom and daddy have a boy of their own, they got to take what the Good Lord sent them.’ and I said, ‘they love ’em no matter if it’s a boy or a girl, or what it is, they love ‘um.’ And he said, ‘you know, that’s where you’ve got a little bit of a niche(?). ‘Cuz your mom and daddy, they looked all over, and they picked you above all of them.’ And he kinda looked at me, and I said, ‘Now, that’s the way I feel about it, and if you go back to school, I’ll make you a deal. You go back to school, then you can go with Tony and me all this summer on the rodeo circuit.’ ‘By golly, that’s a deal!’ And boy, his folks just cried, and he cried– ‘course I didn’t cry at all, I always look wet faced.
So he went to school, and by golly, he graduated with honors. So that summer we went with him, and we were up in Pittsburg. And I decided that I was getting about ready to quit ‘cuz I was gettin’ too old, I thought. You know, I was gettin’ way up there, I was 40-somethin’. ….[gosh dog?]……old man, playin’ the young man’s part. I took him home, and I said, ‘at the end of August, if you have enrolled in the university of Missourah, or any university you want to go to, ‘cuz your daddy’s already told me you can pick any university you want to, and he’ll [expend/send?] you,’ and I said, ‘if you do that, I’ll bring Tony and his trailer up here and I’ll give ‘im to you.’ But I said, ‘now I’m gonna put a little stinger on it, just so you realize that everything is not easy. If you don’t, an you don’t finish college, your daddy has to pay me some money which we will decide on. Now do you think you could make that kind of a deal?’
He said, ‘now you mean to tell me I can just have Tony, but I got to go to school, and I got to graduate from college, and then he’s all mine?!’ I said, ‘oh, he’s yours right now. But he ain’t gonna be yours ‘cuz he don’t want a quitter. He likes a winner.’ So I said, ‘now it’s up to you to you. If you’re gonna be a quitter, now’s the time to quit. But if you want to be a winner, you go ahead and go to school, you prove to me and your daddy and the whole world that you are a winner.’
‘By golly,’ he says, ‘I’ll just take that bet. That’s just one bet I’ll take, I’m not a gamblin’ man, but I’ll take that,’ So I said, ‘all right,’ so his daddy and I shook hands, he shook hands, oh, boy, he [was just?] proud. So, late August I took him [Tony] up there, and when I went to go away, now that’s the one that killed me. ‘Cuz, see, I’d put him in this pasture, and it ran along the fence along down the road until it came to a point, and then I went straight on, the fence stopped. But I tell you, when I got in the car and started that motor, his ears come up and he looked, ‘hey, what’s goin’ on?’ and he’s runnin’ around, and kickin’ at the trailer, and he wanted to get in that trailer! And so when I took off down the road, man, he come runnin’ right along the fence, and he got to that corner and he started whinnyin’ and, oh boy. And I got wet faced again, oh, I clouded up somethin’ terrible. And that was the last time I seen him. But I know that the boy went on through school, and I know that Jerry showed him at a couple of fairs, now, he was never gaited. But at that time there was only a three gaited horse and a five gaited, well, the three gated was his natural gait for walkin’ and trottin’. ….and he won fourth(?) prize in the State Missourah Fair with that boy, and had never been gaited, never no schoolin’ except what tricks I taught him. And then Jerry got married to a young lady that he met down there in Columby Missourah, and they got married, and her daddy was quite wealthy and gave them 160 acres. Mr. Michaels told me, he said, ‘you wouldn’t know that boy,’ He said, ‘Curley, that boy just works day and night, he loves that horse, he’s got him in a pasture now of ten acres, and he don’t do a thing but eat and run and have fun.’ and he said that, ‘Jerry is out with him all the time. Teasin with him and runnin’ him and playin’ with him.’ And that was the last I heard of Tony.
R: now, Curley, I got a picture that Mr. [Harman?] sent me, and I think it was in 1948, where you’ve got this horse kneeling, would that have been Tony, Jr.?
C: that was Tony #3, yeah.
R: I got a shot of that. Now, that’s the horse you gave to this Jerry, right?
C: Yeah, yeah. That’s the one I gave to Jerry Michaels. And that was Tony, but he was actually Tony #3.
R: Tony 3.
R: And I got a picture, that’s the one that he sent me there, and– We talk about horses, Curley, now, I don’t remember, but you know now, Leo Curley who played Mike Shaw, his horse’s name was Redskin. Now he owned the radio, now, who actually lost his horse Redskin, now did that really happen, or was that just–
C: That was just a script.
R: that was just a script, ok. I was readin’ somethin here a while back that Mike was gonna have to see might take his silver bullet to shoot Redskin because he had got down broke a leg or somethin’,
R: I couldn’t remember as a kid on radio, but that was just script, right?
C: just a script, right, yeah.
R: But let me see, I got one of the radio shows, I believe it was “Hurricane Horse”, and this was after Mike lost Redskin, and he’s looking to break this hurricane horse, and he was tryin’ to keep him from doing that because this hurricane horse was a very mean killer, and he reminded you, and he said, ‘well now Tom,’ he said, ‘you know I lost my horse Redskin, and this one’s got the same colors, looks just like old Redskin,’
C (R?): But anyhow, that’s quite the deal there, quite a deal.