Full-Throttle Thursday

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People have been driving motor-driven automobiles for well over a century. That’s long enough to allow us to forget that it took decades of trial and error for the industry to get where it is today, and it continues to evolve. For example, although the wheel was invented right around 3,500 years ago, the tire itself was only introduced in the mid-1800s.  In fact, the word, “tire,” is said to have come from the strip of leather or rubber that “attired” the wheel. True story. Rubber was first used by Central American native tribes for making balls for games, or to cover containers to make them waterproof. Europeans liked what it could do and it became highly coveted.

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The Brazilian government outlawed the export of rubber plants, although smugglers got it to India and Southeast Asia (Vietnam, et.al.) It was great stuff, but it tended to melt in the Summer and become brittle in the winter. So, a man named Charles Goodyear dedicated his life to stopping this process and created a vulcanization process in 1839 that made it more reliable.  Before long, rubber was everywhere.  When rubber was first used to cover wooden wagon wheels, or attired it, it served as a cushion to reduce the jolt of driving on unpaved, often quite rough roads. To be continued….

Wacky Wednesday

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There are countless stories spread across the 100,000 square feet of the American Treasure Tour. Some famous, some little known. Today’s story is dedicated to a sign located just inside the doors of our Toy Box, something every visitor sees, although may not actually notice: a two-foot long key advertising Curtiss Industries of Eastlake, Ohio. They were established in 1932 by William Abrams and two of his sons – Morris and Howard – as the Clipper Key and Lock Company. When they joined forces with the inventor William Curtis in ’34 to invent a new key cutting machine, they changed the name of the company and unlocked a whole world of potential.

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By 1961, they had done so well for themselves in the lock and key, as well as the car part industries, that they built their factory complex in Eastlake, Ohio.  However, their good fortune was not to last too long, unfortunately. After William and Morris’ deaths, the next generation of Morris’ sold their portions of Curtiss stock and the Ohio Forge and Machine Corporation bought them out, resulting in a feud that lasted for years. But in their heyday, the Eastlake plant had well over 100,000 square feet of air-conditioned space, where they produced enough for their over 80,000 customers. They had an army of 600 craftsmen, engineers, salesmen, and administrative personnel, with forty personnel dedicated solely to ensuring quality customer service. 

Tunes on Tuesday

The Righteous Brothers.  They were two unrelated Caucasian men named Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield, who started performing together in 1962. Their style was called “blue-eyed soul” – which meant that it sounded similar to African-American music but proved more acceptable to white crowds. Their career started slowly, but then they connected with the famous – now notorious – record producer Phil Spector.

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Spector decided he wanted to make them stars so, in 1964, he recruited Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil to write “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’,” using what he would call his “wall of sound” recording style. To say the song did well is putting it mildly.  It is considered one of the best records ever created by numerous music writers, it was – and remains – a critical and commercial success and is the most-played song on American television and radio. Rolling Stonemagazine considers it the 34thbest song ever written (out of 500).  Pretty big stuff.  And the Treasure Tour has our very own copy of the 1964 record the Righteous Brothers released. Or it could be a reprint. Pretty exciting, we know.

Monday at the Museum

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In the continuing saga of exploration hosted by the American Treasure Tour's blog team, we bring you to fascinating destinations within the United States that we encourage you to explore - after you've gotten your fill of our Museum, of course.  We've been told that there are more museums in this great nation than there are McDonald's and Starbucks - combined.  We're still a little skeptical of that, but if it's true, then we should definitely celebrate them and visit as many of them as possible. Because we just need to get out of the house once in a while, especially now that Summer is right around the corner!

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So, we invite our readers to take a road trip to Dover, Delaware. Dover is one of the smallest state capital cities in the nation - which is only proper since Delaware is one of the smallest states in the nation - but it has a lot of character and charm to it, as well as one of the newest National Parks (First State - worth checking out!) and a museum dedicated to the Victor victrola. We're talking the first phonographs, or record players. Why, you might ask, does Delaware have a Victor Museum, when everyone knows that the Victory Company had their factory in Camden, New Jersey?  Because the man who founded Victor, Eldridge Johnson, grew up in Delaware, of course. The Johnson Museum is a few short blocks from the state house in Dover, and has a truly remarkable collection of these beautiful machines.  Admittedly, it is not the biggest museum you will have ever visited - it may be 20% the size of the Treasure Tour - but they have a lot of amazing machines in there and it is worth the time.  Despite that phonographs were one of the main reasons the automatic music industry closed down in the 1920's....   https://history.delaware.gov/museums/jvm/jvm_main.shtml

Film on Friday

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She was known as “The Queen of Technicolor,” thanks in part to her flaming red hair. Born Maureen FitzSimons – but remembered today as Maureen O’Hara - in 1920 Dublin, Ireland, the second of six children, the pudgy young girl was cruelly nicknamed “Baby Elephant,” but that did not stop her from pursuing her childhood dream of a career on stage, singing, dancing, acting, you name it. She got her first role at ten, winning beauty contests by fifteen, and made her film debut at eighteen, in 1938. Her career took off from there and soon she was starring opposite Charles Laughton and John Wayne in films including Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Innand John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley. 

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Arguably, her most memorable performance was in John Ford’s 1952 epic The Quiet Man, but O’Hara was in so many movies that it might be considered unfair to point to just one. She never received an Oscar for a specific film, but did win an Honorary Academy Award in 2914, with the inscription “To Maureen O’Hara, one of Hollywood’s most inspiring stars, whose performances glowed with passion, warmth and strength.”  She was 94 and would pass away the very next year.

Full-Throttle Thursday

Normally, for our full-throttle Thursday, we talk about vehicles with motors.  But we're beyond just sticking to categories because they make sense, here at the Treasure Tour blog.  That's why today, we would like to harken back to something that was introduced before the automobile hit the streets.  But not far before.  It was first seen in the 1870's, and went by many names: the "High Wheeler," the "Ordinary," the "Penny Farthing." But we can just call it the ridiculously dangerous bicycle before there was the actual bicycle. The man accredited with the invention. of this transportation anomaly was Eugene Meyer of Paris, France. In 1869, he introduced the wire-spoke tension. wheel that would become an important part of wheeled transportation after his invention. 

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The front wheel of the Penny Farthing (named after two coins used in English currency during the late-19th century, one super big and one teeny tiny) was crazy big - around four feet tall, give or take. The size of the wheel provided a cushion to the driver, which made a difference considering that the tires were solid rubber and in no way insulated them from bumpy roads. The driver would pretty much have to climb onto the top of the bike, and be acutely aware of road conditions because a fall from that height could be dangerous - even fatal.  Of course, the development of the safety bike - with its pneumatic tires, and smaller wheels connected to the pedals with chains that allowed for much more practical usage - would be the end of the very short-lived age of the Penny Farthing.  Maybe not such a bad thing, considering the danger in which the driver was placed. 

Wacky Wednesday

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Anyone who has recently visited the American Treasure Tour has surely noticed our display honoring the world of the firefighter in our entryway.  The importance of first responders to the safety of people and the preservation of their possessions cannot be overstated, but there’s a facet of the world of the firefighter historically that has been etched in our culture: the connection between firefighters and Dalmatians.


Dalmatians are magnificent, muscular dogs to be sure, but that’s not the reason. The reason is because they’re smart. And they get along well with horses. When the alarm went out that there was a fire happening in the days before automobiles and fire trucks, the firefighters would quickly get their horses hooked up to their engines. Meanwhile, the Dalmatians went into the street in front of the firehouse, barking out warnings to clear the way. Pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages would be expected to make way during the emergency, and the Dalmatians served as the alarm.  Their ability to get along well with the horses only made their value even greater. Of course, as horses were replaced by motors to propel fire trucks, the Dalmatians weren’t needed anymore, but tradition has a powerful place in the hearts of Americans, and the association between these loyal dogs and the fire prevention service continues today.  The images included here reveal something we've all known: Dalmatian puppies are absolutely adorable!

Tunes on Tuesday

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Dick Clark, “the world’s oldest teenager,” the man best known for the television program American Bandstand, but also the host of The $10,000 Pyramid(which would eventually be impacted by inflation and become the $64,000 Pyramid).But his longest-lasting influence was with Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, helping to welcome the new year every year from 1972 through 2003-04. Clark’s influence in exposing people to new music cannot be over-estimated, though. With his charisma and boy-next-door good looks, Clark hosted American Bandstand, introducing new music to the youth of America from 1956 through to 1987, first from studios in Philadelphia, then from Los Angeles. Through his show, stars including Smokey Robinson, The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, Johnny Cash, and Fats Domino all gained their first major national exposure. Of course, many adults critical of new music considered Clark’s influence to be detrimental for youths, but that didn’t stop him.  

His anthology album 20 Years of Rock N’ Roll includes thirty songs spanning the years 1953 through 1972, from the Orioles through to Gallery, with a little Shirelles, Everly Brothers and Otis Redding thrown in for good measure. “In the 1950’s,” Dick explains on the back cover, “people used to ask me, ‘How long can Rock last –.’ In the 1970’s, Rock rolls on….”

Museums on Monday


Summer time is here!  You may not realize this, but many museums and historic sites across the northern states of this great nation do not have open hours during the winter, then limited hours in the Spring and the Fall.  Which means there is a relatively short window to visit them - and you are in that window right now.  (Need we mention that the American Treasure Tour is open year round?  Okay, we won't.). So today we are happy to blog about a site you can only visit "in season."  Of course, it's not right around the corner from Oaks, PA, but well worth the journey north to explore it:  Wayside.

Wayside is now a part of the Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, Massachusetts (definitely worth visiting regardless of the time of year - a beautiful park preserving the site where the first shots were fired that ignited the American Revolution in 1775).  Wayside was the home of three separate novelists during the nineteenth century:  Nathaniel Hawthorn (The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables), Louisa May Alcott (Little Women), and Margaret Sidney (a series of children's novels).  The house is gorgeous, but due to its layout, only ten people can tour it at a time, so advanced reservations are highly recommended.  It's well worth the trip, though.    https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/pwwmh/ma47.htm

Film on Friday

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We love movies here at the American Treasure Tour, and we’re not just talking about then blockbuster action thrillers and superhero films that are taking over the movie theaters these days.  We’re talking about movies since the beginning of the technology, which dates back to experiments made by William Kennedy Laurie Dickson in the West Orange, New Jersey laboratories of Thomas Edison, back in 1888. Using a celluloid strip photographic film developed by George Eastman of Kodak, the illusion of movement became a hugely successful form of entertainment (yes, we’re getting to Ruth Rolland here, somehow).  Films were silent, and the actors and actresses on the screen quickly became internationally famous movie stars.  Many of the early film celebrities are now long forgotten, but deserve a call out every now and again.

Ruth Rolland (1892 to 1937) was the first student at the now-famous Hollywood High School to become a movie star. That happened shortly after she appeared in the Kalem Film Studios’ A Chance Shot, which was released in 1911. In the next sixteen years, she performed in right around two hundred films (many short subject films) and became hugely successful.  Although she had a good voice for talkies, by 1930 her youth was gone and her career began to wane. Sadly, she died of cancer in 1937 at the age of forty-five. So, Ruth may not be well remembered by today’s film-going audience, but maybe we can help her star rise again!

Full-Throttle Thursday


The Studebaker name was been tossed around the transportation industry from the early 1850's into the mid-1960's.  For over one hundred years, they were on the sides of vehicles.  First, wagons. They founded their company in South Bend, Indiana (a museum is dedicated to them in the area to this day) in 1852.  The Civil War proved a boon to the brothers Studebaker, Henry and Clement, when they provided all sorts of wagons for the Union Army. In 1902 they introduced their first electric car, their first gas-powered car in 1904. They expanded from there, buying out Pierce Arrow in the late-1920's, expanding business just in time for the Great Depression.  In 1933, they declared bankruptcy.  New management helped revive the struggling company, but they could never effectively match the big three - Ford, GM, and Chrysler.  By the mid-50's, they merged with Packard, but it wasn't enough to save them.  They closed their Indiana factory at the end of 1963.

The 1958 Scotsman model Studebaker, available in car, wagon, and pick-up models, was one of their last major effort to compete in the American vehicle market.  It was an economical vehicle, bare bones at an extremely affordable price: the two-door Scotsman was only $1,776! They sold well, but ultimately proved unable to pull the company out of the hole.  We at the American Treasure Tour blog are not entirely sure what the moral of this story is, but we're glad to have some Studebaker vehicles in our Toy Box - and many more available to check out at the affiliated Classic Auto Mall in Morgantown, Pennsylvania.

Wacky Wednesday

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Peter Pan was developed by the Scottish author J.M. Barrie as a character in his 1902 novel The Little White Bird. Written for an adult audience, The Little White Birdbarely introduced Peter as the boy who never grew up, but he quickly became a favorite among Barrie’s readers, which inspired him to write the 1904 play that would inspire the extremely popular 1953 Disney film. (Barrie, who died in 1937, never saw his character realized – and immortalized - by the Disney Studios.) Of course, since then Peter has proven an indelible part of popular culture, and we are happy to have him greet our guests as they climb aboard the tram in the Toy Box.

Our Peter Pan, you will notice, is taking a selfie. Artists have taken photographs of themselves since the 19thcentury – the first ever accredited to Robert Cornelius, taken in 1839. The development of the modern smartphone has made them extremely popular, such that the Oxford Dictionary announced that their ‘word of the year’ for 2013 was “Selfie,” defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

Tunes on Tuesday

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In the early days of the music industry, there were far fewer protections in place for song writers than there are today, which is to say they made a lot less money – and credit – for their creations. And a popular song could be performed and recorded by numerous different musicians without being held accountable to the original songwriters.  “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart” was composed in 1938 by the unforgettable Duke Ellington, with lyrics added by Irving Mills, Henry Nemo and John Redmond.  Three lyricists working together came up with this:

I let a song go out of my heart
It was the sweetest melody
I know I lost heaven 'cause you were the song

Since you and I have drifted apart
Life doesn't mean a thing to me
Please come back, sweet music, I know I was wrong

Am I too late to make amends?
You know that we were meant to be more than just friends, just friends

I let a song go out of my heart
Believe me, darlin', when I say
I won't know sweet music until you return some day

I let a song go out of my heart
Believe me, darlin', when I say
I won't know sweet music until you return some day


The song definitely struck a chord, because it reached number one upon its release for Ellington when he recorded it.  It was also a hit – the same year – for Benny Goodman (with Martha Tilton singing), Connee Boswell, Hot Lips Page, and Mildred Bailey.  Over the years since then, other luminaries have also recorded their own versions of it, including Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, and Thelonious Monk.  Clearly, no one is ready to let this song go out of their hearts!

Museums on Monday


Here we are at the American Treasure Tour blog hq, offering you great opportunities to explore the many wonderful and varied offerings of our great nation.  Every Monday, we choose a different destination to highlight.  After all, we know that you need diversity in what you do - so you can only be expected to visit us here at the old Goodrich plant in Oaks two or three times a week.  We happily offer guidance for the other days of the week.  Today, we travel all the way to Lancaster, where the home of the only resident of Pennsylvania to serve as President of the United States lived.  James Buchanan's home, which he called Wheatland, is a delightful destination in the historic town that once served as the nation's capital. Located in a lovely upscale community, Wheatland is not only the 15th president's former home, but also the locations for LancasterHistory.org, the historical society for the city. 

Buchanan is considered one of the nation's more controversial presidents, having been in office when southern states began seceding after the election of Abraham Lincoln.  Did Buchanan handle the situation in the best way possible?  What could he have done to prevent the coming of the Civil War?  Sadly, speculation will not change his legacy, but Buchanan the man is honored here in this lovely brick home.  Check it out at:  https://www.lancasterhistory.org

Film on Friday

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Elvis Presley is an American icon.  Considered one of the most important entertainment icons of the twentieth century, Presley is considered the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music. He dabbled in rockabilly, country and western, gospel, rock ‘n roll, rhythm and blues, and pretty much every genre that was out there during his lifetime (1935 to 1977), but that all said, he really just wanted to be a respected actor. Unfortunately, he did not attain his goal, as critics were often quite harsh towards his movie performances, with his twentieth film being no exception. 

Frankie and Johnny, released in 1966, is his story of a chronic gambler, Johnny, on a Mississippi riverboat set in the nineteenth century who is constantly at odds with his girlfriend Frankie (played by the lovely Donna Dixon, immortalized as Elly May Clampett on CBS’s The Beverly Hillbillies) and constantly getting into trouble, was described as “feeble and obvious” and having opened with a “dull thud.”  Alas, the movie did not make a profit during its theatrical run, although the soundtrack was certified platinum in January 2004.  The music offered traditional songs that never really hit the charts individually. That all said, the poster advertising the film is fun.  Come check it out!

Full-Throttle Thursday

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As far as most people are concerned, cars have always had steering wheels; however, not so.  The first internal combustion car ever made, the Patent Motorwagen designed by Karl Benz in 1885, was steered using a tiller bar. Tiller bar technology can be traced to boats, as they are often used to guide the direction they travel in water. Tillers work fine as far as moving the wheels in the direction you need them to go, but might become a nuisance with making wide turns - hitting oneself or passengers - and that may be the reason the steering wheel was developed within a decade of Benz's inventions. 

The first steering wheel appeared in 1894, on the French-made Panhard car designed by Alfred Vacheron and used in the famous Paris-Rouen race that year. The idea proved effective, and within four years, Panhard made them standard for their vehicles. Charles Rolls introduced them in his luxury vehicles the same year in Great Britain, as did Thomas Jeffery in his Ramblers. By 1904, all of Jeffery’s vehicles had steering wheels, and within a decade the tiller was almost completely abandoned. Simultaneously, American car owners started placing the wheel on the left-hand side of the car. That was in large part due to the decision Henry Ford made to locate it there, to nurture the rules of etiquette – forevermore, when an American car pulled up to a curb, the (often female) passenger got out of a car onto the safety of the sidewalk, while the (often male) driver dared passing traffic on the road side.

Wacky Wednesday

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The American Treasure Tour Museum strives to be a place where anyone can come - be they American or just visiting - and be confident that they will hear only the truth. Oh, sure, misinformation might happen occasionally, like the time one of us thought it was 2:13pm when it was actually 2:15pm, but never is there malice in our intentions. This comes up today, in a blog dedicated to the Statue of Liberty we have on the tram route in our Toy Box, because we do not want anyone to be confused:  this is NOT the original Statue of Liberty. The real one is located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. And the real one is 305 feet tall, while ours is somewhere around seven feet tall.  Of course, we want everyone to visit our Statue, but we do have to respectfully request that you please do not try to climb it.  That will only end poorly.

So here are some interesting facts about the REAL Statue.  Ours is kinda not quite as interesting as the original - but please don't tell anyone we said that. It was designed by French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi, with a little help from a guy named Gustav Eiffel, who would become kinda famous for something else he designed on his own. The Statue was intended as a centennial gift to the United States to celebrate 1876, but it took longer to get here than expected, and arrived in 1886. It's made out of 350 separate pieces that were all attached upon their arrival in the States, and placed on top of a pedestal that was built using money from one of the nation's earlier crowd funding petitions:  people donated what money they could - nickels and dimes oftentimes - until enough was made to construct the beautiful stand the Statue stands on today.  (The Treasure Tour's Statue doesn't even have a pedestal. Maybe we should try to crowd fund one, too!)

Tunes on Tuesday

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Music comes in many styles.  Some of them appeal to many people, but many of them appeal to some people. 101 Strings aspired to connect with a larger audience by recording standards and popular music; however, they did it differently than the competition, all thanks to the man behind the band.  His name was Dave Miller, a Philadelphia native who was inspired to create records after taking a tour of the RCA Victor factory in Camden, New Jersey, across the river from his city. First, he recorded weddings for sale. Then he signed on an unknown artist named Bill Haley, calling his back-up band The Comets thanks to Halley's Comet. Things went well until Haley sued Miller for reprinting his music and selling it at budget prices, without giving Haley a cut. And so Miller went bankrupt and had to start again.

He hired orchestras in Europe to avoid American union fees, and recorded cover songs that avoided copyright infringements, which allowed him greater flexibility and control over the records. 101 Strings is a misnomer, though, since many of his orchestras had more than 101 members in them. He produced and sold his records in bulk, which allowed for cheaper prices. His first three albums were all released in November of 1957, while the next year 101 Strings recorded twenty-four different titles.  Hawaiian Paradise covered familiar tunes, extremely popular in the late-50s and early-60s after the tropical islands were admitted as the 50th State, although it would have never reached the top of the Billboard charts.  Still, during the just over ten years that 101 Strings released music, they sold over fifty million albums worldwide. 

Monday at the Museum

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Spring has finally arrived, which means it's time to thaw out the family, pile them in the car, and get them out of the house. The first stop on any family road trip should always be the American Treasure Tour Museum in. Oaks, Pennsylvania.  Hopefully, that's pretty obvious to everyone by now. But we at the ATT are fully aware that there are plenty of other places to experience in this amazing country of ours, and we want to make sure you know about them.

If you're heading west after your stop at the Treasure Tour, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania happens to be in your way, there are a few destinations in that lovely town that simply must be on your itinerary.  We'll tell you about other destinations in future blogs, but today we are going to bring to your attention one of the best non-battlefield Civil War sites in Gettysburg.  It's called Civil War Tails, and it will bring the horrific fighting of the Civil War years to life for you - with cats.  Three-dimensional dioramas depicting battles throughout the course of the War Between the States, with tiny little cats instead of miniature humans.  Honestly, it makes the gruesomeness of the battlefield easier to take, which means this is a great destination if you want to introduce younger visitors to what the Civil War was all about.  Fun, fascinating and informed, Civil War Tails definitely takes history into an unusual direction.  https://civilwartails.com

Film on Friday

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The first western ever made was 1903’s The Great Train Robbery, starting a love affair with the drama and excitement of the wild west for Americans fascinated with the world outside their homes.  Countless western movies have been made since then, and one of them was definitely Silver Spurs.  Directed by Ray Taylor in 1936, Silver Spursbegins with the return of Janet Allison (played by Muriel Evans), home from finishing school. She becomes witness to two gamblers stealing a chest of money from a railroad station, only to have the sheriff protect them when she reports the theft. Buck Jones plays Jim Fentriss, foreman of the Allison ranch, who also avoids pursuit of the gamblers for reasons Janet cannot understand – and you will have to watch the film to learn.  

Describing itself as “The Thrill Sensation of the Untamed West!” Silver Spurs has bank robbery, hi-jacking, even girl-stealing.  A non-stop action fest that proved so appealing that it was remade only seven years later – this time starring none other than Roy Rogers and Trigger, with Roy’s now-immortal western ballad “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” on the soundtrack.