Kelley, Sue 1974,1976

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Sue Kelley reminisces about her years with the Harley Sadler Tent Show and her life after she and her husband left the show. Note: Tape 1 is distorted near the end of Side 1.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Sue Kelley

Additional Parties Recorded: None

Date: September 17, 1974; April 6, 1976

Location: Lubbock, Texas

Interviewer: Clifford Ashby, Bob Nash (on KFYO Radio)

Length: 3 hours, 5 minutes (total)


Tape 1, Side 1: Start in show business, Met husband (1925), Bart Couch, Claude Kelley (husband), Canvas man with Sadler Show, Death of Harley Sadler’s father, Show to Wichita, Kansas, Route of show, Eden, Oklahoma, Lack of money, San Antonio, Texas, Left Sadler Show (1934), Trucking business (cattle), Claude Kelley elected sheriff, Oil and chemical business, Race horses, To Ruidoso, New Mexico (1961), Children, Horses, Death of Claude Kelley, Children, Families.

Tape 1, Side 2: Roy Parnell, Oil business, Memorial for Harley Sadler, Popularity of the show, Clean, family shows, Townspeople’s attitudes, Performers, Supporters of the Sadler Show, Generosity of Harley Sadler.

Tape 2, Side 1: Meal preparation, Budget, Foods served, Charlie Myers and Ethel Snow, Mrs. Kelley as critic of shows, Alcohol consumption in the company, Poker playing.

Tape 2, Side 2: Blank

Tape 3, Side 1: Sue Kelley’s duties for the show, Tent size and capacity, Sue Kelley’s duties (again), Concession, Ticket selling, Observed the audiences’ reactions, Claude Kelley, husband, Boss canvas man, His responsibilities, Time spent with the Sadler Show, Sue Kelley (again), With the show (1928-1934), How Claude and Sue Kelley met, Four-year courtship, Length of marriage (37 years), Tent fire in Temple, Texas (1920s), Tent fire in Sweetwater, Texas, Various plays performed by the show, Juvenile lead actors (1920s-1930s), Wayne Mann (1931), Bart Couch, Problems with movie theater owners, Wichita, Kansas, Antagonism towards the Sadler Show, In Kansas, Early 1930s, Absence of problems in Oklahoma and New Mexico, Harley Sadler’s generosity, Rotation of shows performed, Comedies, Toby character, Ad libbing during shows, Smaller acts, To keep the audience’s interest, Length of shows, Order of acts, Scenery changes, Scenery, Built constantly, Retouched each year, Transportation, Trucks used as stage, Trains and trucks used as transportation, Claude and Sue Kelley, Later business ventures, Café, Trucking business, Horse racing, Mud and chemical business, Children, Contact with Harley Sadler, Death in Stamford, Texas, Billie Sadler, Harley’s wife, Amount of time needed to set up tent.

Tape 3, Side 2: Claude Kelley, Performer, Comical personality, Physical strength, Tent show company, Compared to a large family, Death of Harley’s father, Significance of tent in performers, Necessity of wooden floors in tent, Weather, Two months in Waco, Austin and Galveston, Texas, Two programs per week, Fifteen different plays in two months, Incident in Northern Texas Panhandle, Show closed, No electricity due to bad weather, Rehearsals, Charlie Meyers, Treasurer, Lack of money, Incident in Galveston, Texas, Ham dinners, Moonlight, Fresh oysters, Ethel Snow, Married to Charlie Meyers, Advance man, Announced the show ahead of time, Show depended on his skill, Always busy, Marriages on the show, Number of divorced people on the show, Possible reasons for the divorces.

Tape 4, Side 1: Divorces (continued), Various couples, Lighting for the shows, Lanterns, Austin, Texas, Three days without electricity, Used Coleman lanterns, Bernie Massengale, Appearance, False teeth, Sources of income for the show, Advertisements, Concessions, Tickets, Reserved seats, Name spelling anecdote, Seating for blacks, Seating for Mexicans, Reactions of blacks and Mexicans to the performances, Horse betting, Albuquerque, New Mexico, "Trouble" with black person.

Tape 4, Side 2: Blank

Tape 5, Side 1: [KFYO Radio], Responsibility on the show, Husband was boss canvas man, Responsibilities, Marriage, Sadler’s character, Responsibility on the show (again), Caring for daughter, Route of the show, Bad weather, Audiences, Candy sale, Mrs. Kelley’s daughter, Death of Sadler’s father, The Kelleys left the show (1934), Jayton, Texas, Sadler’s political career, Sadler’s death, Stamford, Texas, Billie Sadler, Cameron, Texas, Gloria Sadler, Death, Reactions to Sadler’s death, Death of Billie Sadler, Kelley family, Children, grandchildren, Tent shows as entertainment, Sadler’s character.

Tape 5, Side 2: Blank

Range Dates: 1925-1976

Bulk Dates: 1928-1930s

Access Information

Original Recording Format:

Recording Format Notes:


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