Skip to content

Milroy Powell won the first calf scramble at the Houston Rodeo in 1942

2015 March 6
by Jan Wilkinson

My Daddy, Milroy Powell won the first calf scramble at the Houston Rodeo in 1942. In 1931, the Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition was founded and the first show was held at the Sam Houston Hall. In 1938, the show was moved to Sam Houston Coliseum. In 1942, the first star entertainer was Gene Autry, “the Singing Cowboy”; and the calf scramble event was added to the Show’s rodeo and is still a popular event nightly between major events in the rodeo.

Facts about the Rodeo: When the calf scramble was added to the rodeo in 1942, each student who caught a calf received a purchase certificate or hard-luck award for $55. Today, the certificates are worth $1,000 donated by an individual or company to buy a heifer. More than $7 million has been awarded since the calf scramble first began.

This is a photo from the website and could possibly be Milroy Powell in 1942.  (See below; we now know it is not Milroy because he had brand new tennis shoes!)

I just think it is amazing!! Seventy three years ago, my Daddy would have been 15 years old and was chasing a calf and won the Houston Show!!

(UPDATE)  Here is what my brother Mark Powell wrote about our Daddy.

I want to share with you a story about my dad, Guy Milroy Powell. He went by the name of Milroy Powell. His calf scramble story was told to me a number of times over the years. He caught the first calf in the first calf scramble held at the Houston Fat Livestock Show and Rodeo. He was very proud of this and told the story with pride.

The first calf scramble at the Houston Fat Livestock Show and Rodeo was held at the Sam Houston Coliseum. In 1966, after many years in the Coliseum, the show was moved to the Astrodome. I was lucky enough to be at the Houston Show in 1974, showing sheep. Some of my classmates and I bought tickets and attending the Rodeo, one night. We were really enjoying the Rodeo in this giant venue of the Astrodome. Much to my surprise, I heard the announcer say that he wanted to welcome into the arena, Milroy Powell! He was being recognized as having caught the first calf, ever, in the Houston Rodeo Calf Scramble in 1942. I had no idea he was there or this was going to happen, but was amazed and proud to witness his recognition. The best part of this story is you get to read it in my Daddy’s own words from a letter that he wrote to the General Manger of the Houston Show in 1965. This is his story as transcribed as part of that letter.

“l didn’t find out until the last minute that l could be in that first calf scramble. It came as quite a surprise. As we were at the Houston show showing our livestock (we stayed in a pen in the barn) I didn’t have any foot wear except rubber boots (used for washing hogs and cattle) and a pair of high top work shoes. A breeder of Karakul sheep (I think his name was Moore but I’m not sure), across the aisle from us found out that I had the opportunity to be in that scramble but didn’t have any tennis shoes so he told me he would buy me a pair if I’d participate and promise to catch a calf. So thirty minutes before the show I ran all the way up town to a shoe shop, bought my tennis shoes and ran back just in time to enter the arena. I had a pulled tendon in my right arm and was unable to straighten it out and had the arm in a sling for two or three weeks. But I took it out of the sling, determined not to let my Dad (Guy Powell who was Breeding Sheep and Goat Superintendent of your show for a number of years) and this Karakul Breeder down. Besides that, I wanted that calf to feed.”

Dad is in the lower right hand picture of this newspaper article. Look at those new tennis shoes!



Previous Post
Next Post
3 Responses Post a comment
  1. Jack Harrison permalink
    January 7, 2017

    My calf certificate was good for $125, but a good calf cost $250, and we didn’t have the money. Dad asked my sponsor, a Houston doctor named Robert C.L. Robertson if they could split the difference, which they agreed on, and Mr. Hendricks, the Menard Vo Ag teacher, Dad, and I traveled to Madisonville and bought the most beautiful calf from Ralph Johnston, a Houston Fat Show director, who I was advised by my Dad would be good politics for the Fat Stock Show the following year. I renovated and painted an unused feed house at the ranch and built a fence for his pen. We had two milk cows, but had to buy corn, wheat, and cotton seed meal, and make monthly reports to Dr. Robertson. We named the calf “Charity Ball” because he was a bargain and lost his balls. A pretty calf, but the long trip from Menard caused him to get off his feed and get diarrea. He was drawn at show time, but healthy. Charity Ball went through three or four sifts, but didn’t make it to the finals, and I was required to sell him for 2 cents over market after the show. Lost a bunch of money, but it was a good effort.

  2. Jack Harrison permalink
    January 7, 2017

    Gene Autry played the Houston stock show from 1942-45, 1947 and 1948, and 1955.

  3. Jack Harrison permalink
    January 7, 2017

    But getting back to Roy Rogers, Ed was wondering on the phone how many years Rogers played the stock show. So while he listened I got on the show’s website and counted. Seven times, near as I could figure, between 1950 and 1972.(Leon Hale)

    It was Eddy Arnold I met in 1953 when I caught a calf in the Houston Calf Scramble. I was fixing to go into the arena and he was on his horse at the next gate and we said hello to each other. Big thrill for me!

Leave a Reply

Note: You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.