Thursday, March 31, 2011

FFB: Bob St. John, On Down the Road

Written and published in 1977, this is a great book about rodeo, with something like 250 photographs of rodeo cowboys in action, many of them in color. But it's not just a picture book. The author Bob St. John is a sports writer, and he covers the subject with the kind of depth you expect from good sports writing. 

His specialty is getting up-close and personal with the greats and near-greats of the sport. Thirty-some years ago, that meant men like Larry Mahan, Donnie Gay, Jim Shoulders, and Leo Camarillo.

He travels with them from rodeo to rodeo, sitting up with them in motel rooms late at night, listening to their stories, and capturing their personalities in the way they talk, tell jokes, even sing songs.

It’s a time capsule of a period when traditional rodeo was getting more like show business, but it was still not far from its roots. St. John pays plenty of attention to the events and the action in the arena, including the work of the rodeo clowns. There’s also a great deal more about what goes on behind the scenes, as he portrays the lives and personal histories of the men and women who "go on down the road."

This book is out of print. Used copies can be found at amazon.

Coming up: Francis Lynde, The Taming of Red Butte Western (1910)


  1. I'll take a look at that, Ron. Those guys are nuts (in a nice way)! There's a bull in a field just down the road from us and he's a massive beast! He's frightening just to look at. Brave men those Rodeo dudes!

  2. Glad to see St. John getting a mention. I followed him for years in the Dallas Morning News, and in fact I remember when he wrote this book.

  3. Were you at this year's Houston Rodeo? Check out the Rodeo gallery on Reliant's page:

  4. David, they're fearless for sure.

    Bill, excellent writer; would make a great sports columnist.

    JFlee, haven't been to the Houston rodeo in many years.