The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955 Page: 214
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
both to the citizens of Texas and also to the welfare of the five
thousand prisoners. To the prisoners I felt it was to their health,
their education, and useful employment. As to their general
welfare, I thought that wholesome recreation should play an
important part, and I went strong on recreation. The prison
records show that our baseball games, musical and show entertain-
ments, and rodeos paid large dividends in class and amount of
work, in conduct, and financially. So in the fall of 1931 I began
preparation for our first rodeo. I stated that definitely the object
of the rodeo was first the entertainment and pleasure of the
prisoners and second the entertainment and pleasure of the five
hundred employees and their families. For five years I directed
and handled the rodeo, ably assisted by Albert Moore, the present
director who took charge when I left. How well the rodeo suc-
ceeded is a matter of present history, one Sunday last year having
an attendance of 3o,ooo visitors, and the annual net gate receipts
the last few years amounting to $loo,ooo, said money being used
for the general welfare of the prisoners.
During the rodeos, I entertained many prominent citizens:
governors, United States senators and congressmen, and state
officials. Having had Tom Mix with us, I was anxious to have the
greatest of them all, Will Rogers. Being fairly well acquainted
with him, I approached him on the subject of visiting and he
became much interested and asked me a number of questions
in regard to our rodeo. I made him the best sales talk that I
possibly could and assured him that my object was not to draw a
crowd, as we had never been able to take care of the attendance,
that it was not to make money on his appearance, as we had all the
money we needed, but that I would like for 1500 prisoners to see
him in person and to write home that they had seen and heard
Will Rogers and that if he would come that no one but Ranger
Captain Tom Hickman and I would know he was coming. He
said to me, "Simmons, I'll tell you what I will do, I will wire you
and fly down one Sunday and be with you." I thanked him and
told him how much I believed he would enjoy our rodeo and
special events put on entirely by prisoners. His unfortunate death
that summer caused the greatest disappointment that occurred to
me during my prison management.
Before finishing about the rodeo, I wish to refer to two special
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955, periodical, 1955; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101158/m1/255/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.