Lynn Sheffield Simmons / The Place is Argyle

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Singing cowboy star Gene Autry is shown in an undated file photo. Autry, who parlayed a $5 mai- order guitar into a career as Hollywood’s first singing cowboy, died Oct. 2, 1998. He was 91.

Classes begin Monday in Argyle school district

Classes at Argyle’s Hilltop Elementary School, pre-kindergarten through fourth grade, will begin Monday at 7:45 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m.; Argyle Intermediate School, fifth and sixth grades, will from 7:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Argyle Middle School, seventh and eighth, and Argyle High School, ninth through 12th grade, will be from 8:30 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.

Coming events

The Argyle Town Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday for its regularly scheduled monthly meeting in the council chambers at the Argyle Town Hall, 308 Denton St.

Days gone by

The other day on our way back home from Oklahoma, my husband and I stopped at a restaurant in Tioga.

“Gene Autry was born here,” my husband told the waitress taking our order.

She nodded while writing down our food preferences as my husband continued speaking.

“When I was a kid, my friends and I would go to the picture show every Saturday to watch him in a serial called, Gene Autry and the Thunder Riders. We wouldn’t have missed it for anything. At the beginning of each episode, the music alerted us that something scary was going to happen. Suddenly we would hear galloping hoofs sounding like thunder and a whole bunch of Thunder Riders would appear. They wore hoods over their heads and ...”

“It was the Ku Klux Klan,” volunteered a young man from the next table.

“No,” my husband responded, turning toward him as the waitress left, “they lived underground and if they breathed air, they’d melt.”

“Like the witch in the Wizard of Oz,” I giggled.

“No,” my husband said.

“They did real mean things, and Gene nearly lost his life at the end of every episode. You see, the Thunder Riders would trap him into life-threatening situations and the chapter would end with him just about finished,” he said. “After we’d get home, we would cut eye holes in boxes and put them over our heads. We’d make them like the Thunder Riders and even show our breathing apparatuses.”

“Breathing apparatuses?” questioned the young man now absorbed in my husband’s story.

“Yes,” my husband said. “The Thunder Riders had to have hoods with breathing apparatuses over their heads to survive, and so we would dress like the Thunder Riders and ride our bikes through the neighborhood.”

“How’d Gene get out of those dangerous situations?” I asked.

“Well,” he explained, “at the beginning of each serial that real scary music would start and then came the galloping hoofs sounding like thunder. Next, a whole group of Thunder Riders would appear and they would do to Gene the same thing they did the week before. Then they’d leave him — tied-up in a burning house, hanging from a cliff, trapped in a cave or something dangerous — and in each new episode he’d escape just before he died.”

“Did you say they lived underground?” inquired the young man.

“Yes,” my husband said, “and when they wanted to enter their underground hideout, the leader would hold up her arm and a big rock would roll back.”

“Hey that was in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” I said, “But wait — you said ‘she.’”

“Yes, she, and it wasn’t Ali Baba,” he said.

“Do you suppose she started women’s lib? ” I said.

“No, she melted,” he said.

I took a sip of iced tea and waved goodbye to the man at the next table as he left.

“You know,” my husband said, “I might have taught that young fellow some things about our culture he didn’t know.”


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