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Shorty Fincher
and his Cotton Pickers
Born:  November 9, 1899
Died:  March 24, 1958
WWVA Original Jamboree
KQV Pittsburgh, PA
WDEL Wilmington, DE
WGCB Red Lion, PA
WNOW York, PA
WORK York, PA
WWVA Wheeling, WV

About The Artist

Although born in Iuka, Mississippi, Shorty Fincher lived in Aniston Alabama from the age of one where he grew up. In 1911, a younger brother, Hamilton — later known as "Rawhide" — was added to the family. However, he and his brother's entry into show business apparently took place in Pennsylvania about 1932.

Although his pre-war band usually bore the name Cotton Pickers, in January 1934 he recorded a number of radio transcriptions for the Crazy Water Crystals Company under the name Colonel Jack [Brinkley] and Shorty's Crazy Hillbillies, as well as six sides for OKeh at that time. In addition to Shorty and Rawhide, then his band included a man named Shad Roe and a girl named Sue, believed to be surnamed Fincher, and perhaps others.

Promo Ad - Shorty and His Alabama Cotton Pickers 1938 Promo Ad - Shorty and His Alabama Cotton Pickers - Rawhide - Sally - 1939

RE: Further research indicates that "Susie" who was given label credit on two the recordings she did with her brother and the Crazy Hillbillies was indeed a sister. Her name was Ainis Thelma (Sue) Fincher Holiday. She was born September 18, 1912. She passed away on September 23, 1998. In both Sally's obituary and in the short biography included in a souvenir folio of Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals From Radio Station W.O.R.K., Sally indicated she had gotten a radio as a gift and the very first program she heard was of Shorty's Crazy Hillbillies. In 1934, "Susie" got married to Gilbert J. Holiday and left the act. Sally wanted to be a part of it and got the role and later, a husband.

Doc Williams in his first printing of his guitar instruction folio (and it underwent more than a dozen printings and he often joked he put his daughters through school from its sales) contained some history of where he worked and the band members that came and went. In 1938, Rawhide, Shorty's brother, sustained some injuries jumping out of his third floor apartment in a fire. It took him a few months to recover. Doc wrote that on June 26, 1938, he called it quits for the season and went on his first vacation in five years. Rawhide decided to stay and joined his brother's band, the Alabama Cotton Pickters who had just gotten a program spot on WWVA.

In the ensuing years, he played on radio over different stations including one in Pittsburgh where Alexandra Kaspura, known as "Lonesome Valley Sally" (named for a song), was added to the band.

Folio - Shorty Fincher's Prairie Pals - WORK Folio - Shorty Fincher's Cotton Pickers - WWVA

Lonesome Valley Sallie - Shorty Fincher's Prairie Pals RE: Alexandra Kaspura was listed as Lonesome Valley Sally in a souvenir booklet of Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals. She married Shorty on February 7, 1942. The confusion stems a bit from the fact that Alexandra's mother's name was Laura Poniehtera, a native of Poland. Her death certficiate indicated her last name was Poniehtera and also indicated she was divorced. Research in online newspaper archives revealed she was also known as Laura Rose Kacpura and Laura Rose Kasper. This perhaps explains Alexandra's name in that booklet.

Other band members over the next few years included Florence Morosco or "Yodeling Flo," Dolph Hewitt who later became a star at the National Barn Dance, Ted Buchanan, Tommy Nott, and Leonard "Lynn" Davis, who later married Molly O'Day. The band toured some through Virginia and other southern states and at some point worked at WORK radio in York, Pennsylvania, before coming to WWVA and the Jamboree as well as daily programs.

For a couple of years, 1936-1937, Rawhide played with Doc Williams and the Border Riders and then went to Shorty's band. Some of these band members may not have stayed very long.

In the early 1940's, Shorty was looking for a place to base his operations and perhaps other ideas. He found a seven acre tract of land just outside of York. It was located one mile south of Hallam, PA on Yorkana Road. It was called "Valley View Park."

Shorty wrote of the park in one of his souvenir books, "...when we say Valley View, we mean just that, because that same view (from the park entrance) can be seen from almost every part of the park."

Shorty told readers that he rented the park the first summer. He and his gang did the work that was necessary to make it comfortable for the fans when they came to the shows on Sundays. But that was not enough. He had an idea and felt if the support from the fans was there, he would buy the park and make further improvements to make it comfortable for the visiting audiences. By the time the second summer rolled around, the park belonged to the Prairie Pals.

Promo Ad - Valley View Park Grand Opening May 12 1940 - Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals

Once they owned the park, then the clean-up began in earnest. Shorty wrote that the venue had to be enlarged. So, that meant "...trees cut down, bushes cleared out, stones removed, stumps to be blasted out." They also build more tables for fans to enjoy a picnic lunch.

Shorty said it was indeed a team effort; everyone pitched in.Shorty said his father supervised the project and Shorty felt in the end, "In fourteen years of travel I've seen a lot of parks, and I still say Valley View is the best of the lot."

There was another aspect to the park that was near and dear to him. He set aside one day each summer "...for the orphaned and under-priviledged children of York and vicinity. A day when they are the guests of Valley View Park. A day when they can get out and enjoy the besuty of the country and forget the sorrows in their hearts."

In that same souvenir album, he relates a story of his early career and working with someone that would find fame later. It was 1932 and he was at WMMN in Fairmont, WV. Scotty Wiseman was also working at the station. Shorty said he and Rawhide went with Scotty to a local store to make a recording that he would send to Chicago as an audition. The Prairie Farmer folks at WLS liked what they heard and made him an offer and off to Chicago he went. And of course it was there he met his future wife, Lulu Belle.

The first ads for the venue appeared May 0f 1940 and were simply billing the appearance of Shorty and his Prairie Pals and a couple of other local acts.

From that point on, there would be a day of entertainment each Sunday during the summer months between May and September. As time went by, Valley View Park saw many famed entertainers, not just hillbilly music centric acts.

Promo Ad - Valley View Park Season Opening May 3 1942 - Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals

Acts appearing at Valley View Park - 1940 Season

May 12, 1940 Grand Opening of Valley View Park
Featuring Prairie Pals
Uncle Will and His Big Amateur Contest
Peaceful Valley Gang
Donald & Charleen
Coco & Chocolate (Sentimental black face comedians)
Marie Sukie
Crash Miller and his death defying motor cycle stunts
May 19, 1940 Featuring Shorty Fincher's Prairie Pals
Happie Johnnie and His Funsters (From WBAL with Dapper Dan the Personality Man)
The Commodors with the Original SIlver Star Trio
Janette and her $1,000 Accordion (with Gus & Nemo
May 26, 1940 Featuring Shorty Fincher's Prairie Pals
BReingers Marimba Band (10 People)
5 Girls with Acrobatic Dancing and Novelties
Pappy and the boys from Frederick, MD
June 2, 1940 No promotional ad seen
June 9, 1940 Willard the Magician
SHorty Fincher's Prairie Pals
Texas Rough Riders with Toby the Comedian
June 16, 1940 Hawaiian Aces (Featured with Major Bowes)
Clowns, COmedy, Acrobats
Labell Ray Troupe (Featuring Bozo the Wonder Dog)
Uncle Will from Radio Station WORK
June 23, 1940 Shorty Fincher's Prairie Pals
Steve Riley and His Rangers
Greased Pole Climb (Cash Prizes Awarded)
Country Store Night
Free Offer For the Ladies - every lady attending gets a free pass for the show on June 30.
June 30, 1940 Ladies Day; Free Admission To All the Ladies
The Prairie Pals
Jolly Jesters (From Reading, PA)
Greased Pole Climb Contest (Cash prizes)
July 7, 1940 Western Mountain Rangers
Ray Myers, the Armless Wonders
Greased Pole Climbing - $20 First Prize
Country Store Night (Ten Giant baskets of groceries given away)
July 14, 1940 Slim Bryant and the Georgia Wildcats (From WRVA Old Dominion Barn Dance)
Shorty Fincher and the Prairie Pals
July 21, 1940 The Boblinks Revue (Quartette of Silver String Artists from KYW - Philadelphia)
Greased Pole Climbing - Cash Prizes
SHorty Fincher and the Prairie Pals with Rawhide and the Australian bull-whip act
July 28, 1940 Shorty Fincher and the Prairie Pals with Rawhide and his Australian bull whip act
Lone Star State Boys
Dorie Dale, Babie Rae (Comedy team with Acrobatic Dancing and Novelties)
August 4, 1940 Big Amateur Contests - Two Big Prizes Given (One person given chance to travel with Prairie Pals and a steady job to person meeting qualifications)
Steve Riley and His Rangers
Ray Meyers "The Armless Wonder"
Shorty Fincher and His Prairie Pals
August 11, 1940 Balloon Ascension and Parachute Jump - Walter Kuhnert
Johnnie Autry and his Rhythm Rangers
Johnson's Bird and Dog Act (Direct from World's Fair)
Shorty Fincher and His Prairie Pals, featuring Rosa Lee, the girl from "Grand Ole Opra Barn Dance"
August 18, 1940 Four Big Vaudeville Acts
The Three Nitwits (From Hollywood)
The Tumbleweed Caravan (jovial group from the wide open spaces)
The Flying Twins (daring skating act)
Shorty Fincher and His Prairie Pals
August 25, 1940 Willard the Magician
Carolina Slim and The Mountaineers
Shorty Fincher and the Prairie Pals (Rawhide, Johnnie Boy, Lonesome Valley Sallie, CLyde and Rosalee)
September 1, 1940 Three Big Acts Vaudeville
Breininger's Marimba Band (All star cast of nine people)
The Hawaiian Sweetheart Revue (cast of five people)
Shorty Fincher and the Prairie Pals
September 8, 1940 Three Big Acts Vaudeville
Breininger's Marimba Band (All star cast of nine people)
The Hawaiian Sweetheart Revue (cast of five people)
Shorty Fincher and the Prairie Pals
September 15, 1940 1940 Season Finale
Cackle Sisters (First appearance in the area; from WLS)
Pappy and th eBoys (From Frederick, MD.)
Shorty Fincher and the Prairie Pals

Acts appearing at Valley View Park - 1941 Season

May 4, 1941 1941 Season Opening of Valley View Park
Arkie the Woodchopper (From WLS National Barn Dance)
Steve Riley and the Rangers
Co-Co and Chocolate (Blackface Comics)
Shorty Fincher and His Prairie Pals (Rawhide, Sally, Rosalie, Johnny Boy and Clyde Fogle)
May 11, 1941 Tri-State Barn Dance Show (KDKA and NBC Radio Favorites)
Slim Bryant and his Georgia Wildcats
Stanton Sisters
Jack Taylor, comic and harmonica
The Lone Star Cowboys and Girls
Shorty Fincher and His Prairie Pals with Rawhide, a riot of Laffs!
23 People on our stage
May 18, 1941 Betty Boop (Direct from Hollywood)
Sherman Brothers and Tessie (Radio stars - impersonations)
Slim and his Gloom Chasters (with Betty and Darling Sisters)
Jim and Jane's Western Vagabonds
Shorty Fincher and His Prairie Pals with Sally, Golden Voiced SInger
5 All-Star Acts ; 24 People on Stage
May 25, 1941 Roy Rogers and Trigger (and his Entire Company of Western Entertainers)
SHorty FIncher and his W-O-R-K Radio Stars (Sally - Johnny Boy - Rawhide)
Gene and his Saddle Pals
June 1, 1941 Reg Hehoe and his Girl Marimba Band
Stanley Brothers (Comedy knock-about Hand Balancing Act from NY)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals (with CLyde Fogel - fiddlin' champion, Rosalie - dnynamic blonde cowgirl yodeler)
June 8, 1941 Hoosier Hot Shots (From WLS National Barn Dance)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
June 15, 1941 Girls of the Golden West (From WLS Boone County Jamboree)
Hugh Cross
Johnny Wages (one man band)
Arno and ZOla (Comedy magic act)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
June 22, 1941 Hoot Gibson
Miss Montana (The Hollywood Cowgirl)
Balbanow Revue (Music, Dancing, Accordions)
Arno and ZOla (Comedy magic act)
Pop Melchoir & Co. (w/daughter Marie - Comedy)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals from W-O-R-K
June 29, 1941 Dinning Sisters (National Barn Dance)
Coo Coo Cowhands (fomerly with Tom Mix)
Will Morris and Bobby (Comedy bicyle act)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
July 5 and 6, 1941 Ken Maynard (with his horse - Tarzan)
Lone Star Rangers
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
Saturday, July 5, was kiddies day - all boys and girls from Children's Home and Christian Home were guests of Ken Maynard and Prairie Pals
July 13, 1941 Lulu Belle and Scotty (WLS National Barn Dance and WLW Boone County Jamboree)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
Plus five New York Vaudeville Acts
July 20, 1941 Sons of the Pioneers
Graybill (Dog and Pony Show)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
Plus Free Movies of Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians in Pleasuretime
Plus The March of Time's Tobacco Land, U.S.A.
July 27, 1941 Polly Jenkins and Her Plow Boys
Cappy Barra and his Harmonica Band (7 Musicians)
Leroy the Frogman
Jack and Mable Lund (balancing act)
Lew Myers (comedy juggler)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
August 3, 1941 Tri-State Barn Dance
Slim Bryant and his Georgia Wildcats (From KDKA)
Cowboy Jack and his Educated Horse Captain
Steve Brenner (Ventriloquist with Jerry)
Agnes Kasper (Queen of the Accordion)
Radiana (Girl Dancer from N.Y. World's Fair)
Stanton Sisters (Harmony Singers)
Kavanaugh and Raymond (Comedy - Novelty Act)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
August 10, 1941 Eton Boys
Mort Lawrence - Boys Dawn Patrol (From Radio station WIP)
Hack Sisters (Instrumental Entertainers)
Popeye and Wimpy (For a hearty laugh)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
August 17, 1941 No promotional ad seen
August 24, 1941 Valley View Park closed until further notice.
August 31, 1941 Valley View Park closed until further notice.
September 7, 1941 No promotional ad seen
September 14, 1941 No promotional ad seen
September 21, 1941 No promotional ad seen
September 28, 1941 No promotional ad seen

Acts appearing at Valley View Park - 1942 Season

May 3, 1942 Season Opening Show
Curley Bradley (NBC Artist)
Red Newman and Company
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
May 10, 1942 Mac and Bob (From WLS National Barn Dance)
The Three Loose Nuts
The Kirkillos Trampolline Act
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals presenting Rosalie, the Champion Yodeler
May 17, 1942 Carson Robison and His Buickeroos
Raymond and Gladys Frye (Chamption Horseshoe Pitchers)
The Melody Rangers (From Radio Station WFMD(
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals featuring Bonzie The Blue-Eyed Singer
May 24, 1942 The Four Vagabonds (Blue Network Premier Quartette)
Mary Jane and her Merry Melody makers
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals featuring Rawhide The Funny Bone Fellow
May 31, 1942 Hank Lawson and His Knights Of The Road
Freckles Ray (From "Our Gang" Cimedy series)
The South Mountain Rangers (The Hill-Billy Serenaders To Twang Your Chords of Mirth)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals featuring Sallie SInging the songs you love
June 7, 1942 Big Slim Happy Ranch Rodeo
Quarantine (known in radio as its ugliest man)
The Great School Days Review (A Riot of Remembrances)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
June 14, 1942 The Three Loose Nuts (By Popular Demand)
The LaBella Ray Troupe (Novelty circus act causing you spasms of huzzahs)
Jim and Jane (Western Vagabonds from radio station WORK)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
June 21, 1942 The Carter Family
Trainer Graybill and Her Pals (Educated goats, dogs, ponies, cats)
Pop Melcher and His Buddies (trampoline, bar, barrel and clown act)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
June 28, 1942 The Three Guesses (Real Imitators of all the Stars of Stage & Screen)
Chuck Palmer and his Royal Rangers with Paopa Zeke (Star performers in Village Barn)
Penn Supreme 35-piece Band (York's own Meritorius Musicians)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - The Premier Stars of W-O-R-K
July 5, 1942 Hoosier Hot Shots
Jim and Jane (Western Vagabonds from radio station WORK)
Willie Whistle (From radio station WEEU in Reading, PA) Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - Your Five Favorite Friends and Able Entertainers
July 12, 1942 Patsy Montana and Texas Lill
Slim and the Gloom Chasers with comedian Charlie (From radio station WEEU)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - The One Group Which The Soldier Boys Stay To Hear and Praise Afterward — The Troup That Delivers Delight
July 19, 1942 The Major Bowes All Star Unit (10 Stars - Winners of the 1942 Contests; Cyril Smith, emcee)
Troy Brown and Baron Lee (Movie stars)
The Three Glick Sisters (Charming Girls with Winning Songs and Smiles)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - Premier Artists of the York Radio
July 26, 1942 Johnny Boy (Pv. John C. Huey, former member Prairie Pals)
The Musical Pellegrinos (A daringly beautiful revue)
Dare Devil Murphy (The Man Who Can't Be Hung - see him drop 50 feet and live to drop again)
Rekoma and Loretta (A comedy acrobatic team that will grip you)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - (Sally, the Song Bird; Rosalie, the Yodler; Clyde - the violiinst; Rawhide, the rascal; Shorty, the leader of the pack)
August 2, 1942 Hank Lawson and His Knights Of The Road (A return engagement by popular demand)
Landis and Company (World's noted straight Jacket escape expert)
Jesse Altmiller (with Biggest and Strangest Assortment of Musical Novelties seen or heard)
Pop Johnson and His Gang (Musical Novelty Troup)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - (Sally, the Song Bird; Rosalie, the Yodler; Clyde - the violiinst; Rawhide, the rascal; Shorty, the leader of the pack)
August 9, 1942 The Duke of Paducah (Whitey Ford)
The Grant Family (Four real fun makers)
Slim and the Gloom Chasers with Charlie, that scream of a fellow (From radio station WEEU)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - The Tribe of the Tingle Teasers Who Always Tickle and Thrill You
August 16, 1942 The Southernaires (nationally famous NBC Quartette with three centuries of Negro music to thrill you)
Polly Jenkins and Her Musical Plow Boys including Uncle Dan (57 instruments and 1,001 surprises)
The Hawaiian Sweetheart Review (A charming team of boys and girls)
Bob Sanger, the Clown of Comedy
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - The Unit That Unites You to Your Dream Joys
August 23, 1942 Lulu Belle and Skyland Scotty (From WLS National Barn Dance)
The Bar X Ranch Gang
Sunny Mark (Former singer with Cousin Lee troup)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - A Master's Show in Themselves Every Time
August 30, 1942 Hoosier Hot Shots (From WLS National Barn Dance)
Jim & Jane (former York artists)
Landis and Company (World's noted straight Jacket escape expert)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - They Get You—Grip You—Gladden You
September 6, 1942 Denver Darling and His Rangers and Rangerettes (Trailblazers to the Sunlit Peaks)
Bobby Gross and his Sunset Melody Boys (from radio station WKBO)
Raymond and Gladys Frye (Chamption Horseshoe Pitchers)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - Whom The Army Boys Call Their Favorites
September 13, 1942 The Duke of Paducah (Whitey Ford)
Slim Carter and Brown Eyes (Heard over WWVA and WKST)
Raymond H. Dubb (York artist - famous afar for his wonderful sand pictures, rag, crayon and chalk creations in beauty))
The Three Loose Nuts (For Rip Roaring Fun and Music; They Are The Bear Cat's Wow-wow
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - For More Fun And More Music They Thrill
September 20, 1942 The Three Stooges - Moe, Curly and Larry - The craziest nuts that ever cracked open to split your sides with laughter.
May and Her Melody Maids (Seven damsels to delight with variety)
Graybill and her Animal Pals (Trained goats, ponies, dogs - they're educated)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - The Life of the Party Always; All Except Rawhide—He is Life Itself
September 27, 1942 The Southernaires (Return engagement by popular request - nationally famous NBC Quartette with three centuries of Negro music to thrill you)
Joan Lee and Her All-Girl Orchestra and Revue (11 beautifully gowned young women enrapturing by their music, songs and dances)
The South Mountain Rangers (Heard over WFMD)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - And Everyone a Star
October 4, 1942 Grand Closing Day
Contests
Crash Miller (will drive fast auto head-on into 32-inch thick — 4-foot high solid wall)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - Will hold open house to everyone for a Whooping Time from noon till midnight

Promo Ad - Valley View Park Season Closing Sep 26 1942 - Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals -  Southernaires

In mid-July 1942, Shorty had an accident at his father's farm near Hellam, PA. He was riding a horse that suddenly reared itself up and caused Shorty to fall to the ground and then the horse fell on top of him. A news article incdicated that Shorty had injuries to his back and right ankle.

Promo Ad - Valley View Park Season Opening May 4 1941 - Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - Arkie

Promo Ad - Valley View Park July 27 1940 - Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals - Polly Jenkins

But the impact of World War II eventually impacted Shorty and his Prairie Pals. The July 26, 1943 local newspaper in York showed a picture of Shorty in uniform as a plant security guard. The caption accompanying the photo contained some trivia. It is one of the rare occasions that his real name is mentioned - Luther C. (Shorty) Fincher. It also noted that Shorty had disbanded his group for the duration of the war. Johnny Huey and Clyde Fogle were serving in the armed forces. Rawhide (Shorty's brother, Hamilton) was in defense work. Shorty's wife Sallie was tending things at home. Rosalie Allen had moved on to New York where her career would blossom.

It appears that the shows at Valley View Park were discontinued for a time. None were advertised in August of 1943. There were a couple of shows in September. The promotional ads indicated that Shorty was working with Rawhide, Nemo and Charlie. The park had its closing show for the 1943 season on October 3, 1943. Tumbleweed Ludy along with Mary Jane and her Merry Melody Makers, Jim and Jane, the Western Vagabonds, Landis the Wizard of Escape were on that show.

Towards the end of 1943, Shorty had a new version of his Prairie Pals, but no indication who was in the group. He seemed to work various Jamboree type shows with other acts that were on radio station WORK.

Valley View Park's grand opening for 1944 was on Sunday May 7, fearuting Karl and Harty. The ads indicated a new Prairie Pals group, but Shorty was not mentioned. It was not until July of 1944 that Shorty's name begins showing up in the ads again.

At the end of 1944, Coy McDaniel had become a member of the Prairie Pals.

In early 1946, Shorty and His Prairie Pals had moved to Wilmington, Delaware where he had a show over radio station WDEL. Billboard told readers that Shorty had leased a spot at Deemer's Beach which included a Merry-Go-Round, 12 concessions, rink and penny arcade. The venue was to open on May 5, 1946. Bookings for the venue were to be handled by Frankie More, from York, PA who also booked Valley View Park, Indian Echo Cave, Mountain Gretna Park and Happy Johnny's Park in Baltimore. Research shows that he operated this venue for only the one season in 1946. It was located in New Castle, DE, about seven miles south of Wilmington.

Promo Ad - Deemer's Beach Grand Opening May 5 1946 - Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals

Acts appearing at Deemer's Beach - New Castle, DE - 1946 Season

May 5, 1946 Season Opening Show
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
Happie Johnnie (featuring Dapper Dan Comedian
Joe Diorio (songs and comedy)
Harry Starker (Whistling Ventriloquist)
Miskey Sisters (Spanish dancers; acrobatic and adagio)
Smoky and Henry (black face comedians)
May 12, 1946 Duke of Paducah
Bud Messner and his Saddle Pals
John Lucyn (Acrobatic and Hand Balancing Act)
Tumbleweed Ludy (Singer and Yodeler Deluxe)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
May 19, 1946 Nancy Martin (From Breakfast Club)
Virgil Neal and Troupe (A Hill Billie Show You Will Enjoy)
Merridith and Snoozer (A man and his educated dog)
Shertzer's Band (Musical Novelty Show)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
May 26, 1946 Lulu Belle and Scotty
Coon Valley Ramblers (Western Novelty Show)
Martinez Animal Circus
Argentina Duo (Bull Whippers Extraordinary)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
June 2, 1946 Kuhnert Brothers Aerial Show (Balloon ascension and poarachute jump)
Pee Wee and His Range Riders
Harvey Mearns (Musical novelty act)
Pee Wee Roberts and his Hoe Downers (A Hillbilly Novelty Show)
Monroe and Adams (Juggling extraordinary)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
June 9, 1946 Roy Acuff and his Smoky Mountain Boys
Al Carlton (comedy bell ringing)
Blue Hen Ramblers (Hill Billie Novelty Act)
Wacky Esther Sisters (Dance Comedienne)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
June 16, 1946 Arkie the Woodchopper (From WLS National Barn DAnce)
Ray Myers, The Armless Wonder and His Golden Valley Folks (From WEEU)
Tex Rose (Wire and Balancing - a laugh a minute)
COlta and Colta (Magic and Marionettes)
International Rollos (Skating perfection)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
June 23, 1946 Pete Cassell (From WWVA)
Harold Pratt and the Hawaiian Sharps
Pal Costa and Doc Mifflin (Accorionist and Card Expert)
Pop Melchoir and Marie (Trampoline Act, With a Laugh a Minute)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
June 30, 1946 Cackle Sisters (From WSM Grand Ole Opry)
Hal Richie (Ventriloquist)
Maryland Pioneers (Hillbilly Novelty Groups)
Tennessee Pals (A western act full of songs and music)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
July 7, 1946 The Revelers (Singing Quartette)
Harvey Mearns (Musical Novelty Act)
Miskey Sisters (Acrobatic and Adagio Dancing)
Ernie McGee (Cartoonist)
Geery Epley and Cheerful Valley Gang (Hill Billie Novelty)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
July 14, 1946 Duke of Paducah
Santa Fe Rangers
Reidel, the Magician
Kelo Brothers (comedy acrobats)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
July 21, 1946 Polly Jenkins and Her Pals
The Revelers (SInging Quartette)
Joe Boyle (Comedy juggler)
The Davis Twins (From WWVA)
Great Fireworks Show
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
July 28, 1946 Lulu Belle and Scotty (From WLS National Barn Dance)
Pee Wee and His Rangers
Captain John Schreimer (Ventriloquist and Magician)
The Two Texans (Musical novelty - music on saws, balloons, etc.)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
August 4, 1946 Red Foley
The Four Pals (a western act)
The Revelers (Singing quartette)
Mason Dixon Liners (Hill Billie Novelty Group)
Starlette Sisters (table contortion, tumbling, foot balancing and contortion ring act)
Slim Bland and his Guitar
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
August 11, 1946 Toby Stroud and His Radio Show (From WWVA)
Michael Coldman (Radio Artist - comedy quiz show)
Ozark Drifters (Hill Billie Show with something new)
Lorenzo - Magician
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
August 18, 1946 Reed Dunn - Singing Mountaineer (From WWVA)
The Prestons (Skating Act)
Coo-Coo Cowhands (Hill Billie Novelty)
Saylor Sisters (Singing that you will enjoy by this western novelty duo)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
August 25, 1946 Joe Barker, Little Shirley and the Chuck Wagon Gang (From WWVA)
Lillian Orr (Musical Novelty)
Dixie Playboys with the Carolina Sweethearts (Hill Billie show with plenty of good singing and yodeling)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
September 1, 1946 Curly Miller and his Ploughboys (From WLS)
Martinez Animal Circus
Maryland Pioneers (Hill Billie Act)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
September 8, 1946 Frank Annini and His First State Fireworks Show
Virgil Neal and his Gang (western act with imitations of all kinds)
Broadway Buckaroos (A Hill Billie Novelty)
Hal Ritchie (Ventriloquist)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
September 15, 1946 Slim Bryant and the Georgia Wildcats (From KDKA - Pittsburgh)
Bud Messner and Saddle Pals
JImmy Carter and the Melody Boys (western novelty act)
Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals
September 22, 1946 The WWVA Jamboree
Pete Cassel (King of the Hillbillies)
Joe Barker and his Chuck Wagon Gang with Shirley and Little Nancy)
Big Slim (The Lone Cowboy)
Reed Dunn (Singing Mountaineer)
Millie Wayne and BOnnie Baldwin (Singing Rangerettes)
Hawkshaw Hawkins
Honey and Sonny Davis
Ed Moose and His South Mountain Rangers
SMiley Sutter (West Virginia's Champion Yodeler)
Touby Stroud and his Blue Mountain Boys Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals (Farewell Appearance - end of season)

WWVA - Shorty Fincher and his Prairie Pals Shorty was back at WWVA in 1946 with a mostly new band called the Prairie Pals. Billboard told readers that Shorty and his group would begin on September 28, 1946. They were to start doing personal appearances in the area on October 15 and reports were they were already booked solid. Along with Shorty, the Prairie Pals included Lonesome Valley Sallie and Rawhide. Radio listings in 1946 and most of 1947 show Shorty had a program heard over WWVA. In addition to himself and "Rawhide," who now was known as "Cowhide," it included Johnny Huey, Clyde Fogel (1910-1992), Bud Sloan, and a girl named Sally, who may or may not have been the pre-war Lonesome Valley Sally. How long they remained at WWVA is uncertain, but they did not appear in later cast photos.

In January of 1947, Shorty added George (Pud) Sloan to the Prairie Pals ensemble. He was from Oxley, Missouri and played electric steel guitar.

May 9 1958 - Shorty Fincher Memorial Program In May of 1947, Shorty was preparing his new park, Golden Oaks Country Music Park, near Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. The planned opening day was May 4, 1947. He was going to carry on with his usual approach - music and entertainment from 1:00pm to 11:00pm every week and would book top names to the venue as well. They were being heard over WWVA in Wheeling at the time. The Prairie Pals at this time were Shorty, Lonesome Valley Sallie, Johnny Boy Huey, Clyde Fogle and Pud Sloan.

In August 1947, Billboard readers were told that Shorty and the Prairie Pals would be leaving WWVA in September 1947.

Things were changing. In October 1948, readers of Billboard learned that Frankie More's Log Cabin Boys had returned to WWVA. Joining the group was Rawhide, formerly with the Prairie Pals.

The operation of Valley View Park was turned over to Nemo Lippert of the Ranger Riders starting with the 1949 season. Nemo was with WNOW in York and the station had plans to do remotes on Sundays from the park.

It would appear based on research of promotional ads in the York newspapers that the last show at Valley View park was on Sunday, July 28, 1957 and featured a young Brenda Lee. During that summer, many of the stars from the hit television series Ozark Jubilee made appearances at Valley View and other venues. Ads indicated that his band was now called the "Rhythm Ranch Gang".

TV Log - Rhythm Ranch - Shorty Fincher - WSBA-TV - 1954 Radio Log - Rhythm Ranch Gang - Shorty Fincher - WGCB - 1954

The Rhythm Ranch Gang and Shorty were busy in 1954. There was a daily radio show on WGCB in. The group also had a half-hour television show over WSBA-TV (Channel 43). Country Song Roundup reported that the group held a Saturday night get together called "The Rhythm Ranch" at the Chestnut Street Auditorium in Harrisburg, PA. That show was broadcast over WCMB. The Saturday night show as spontaneous and unrehearsed.

Shorty passed away on March 24, 1958. He was scheduled to appear on March 26, 1958 at a show sponsored by the Seven Valleys Fire company.

In May of 1958, a Memorial Program was put on by over 20 different entertainers at the YMCA in York. Admission to the program was to be by donation. The proceeds were said to go towards erecting a monument at the final resting place of Luther C. (Shorty) Fincher.

Ironically, Shorty's real first name was never mentioned in the promotional ads; only in small local news articles reporting an accident or other news.

Shorty married Anna Kling on January 20, 1919. They had three children, Fred, Nellie and Donald. They divorce and it appears she remarried. She passed away on January 26, 1981.

Shorty's second wife was Alexandra (Sallie); they had one son, James. She passed away on June 4, 1987.

Rawhide (Hamilton Fincher) outlived his brother, he passed away on April 17, 1985.

Lonesome Valley Salley and Shorty Fincher Portrait Photo

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providing us with information about this artist.
  • Shorty Fincher Hurt In Fall From Horse; July 15, 1942; York Daily Record; York, PA
  • Now A Plant Guard (Photo with accompanying text); July 26, 1943; The Gazette and Daily; York, PA
  • Fincher Leases Deemer's Beach; Spot Bows May 5; July 13, 1946; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • American Folk Tunes; July 13, 1946; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • American Folk Tunes; September 28, 1946; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • American Folk Tunes; January 11, 1947; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • American Folk Tunes; May 3, 1947; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • American Folk Tunes; August 23, 1947; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Folk Talent And Tunes; Johnny Sippel; October 30, 1948; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Folk Talent And Tunes; Johnny Sippel; April 23, 1949; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Hillbilly Harmony; January 1954; Issue No. 28; Country Song Roundup; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Seven Valleys Fire Co. Business Show Planned; March 13, 1958; The Gazette and Daily; York, PA
  • Memorial Program Set for Shorty Fincher; May 8, 1958; The York Daily Record; York, PA
  • The Simplified By Ear System of Guitar Chords by Doc Williams (1st Printing 1943); 1943; Andrew J. Smik, Jr.; Wheeling, WV

Printer Friendly Version

Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
OKeh
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  45575 A Danced All Night With A Bottle In My Hand; Old Waggoner (as Crazy Hillbillies Band)
  45575 B Too Young To Get Married; Flatwood (as Crazy Hillbillies Band)
  45577 A Falling Leaf (Sue and Rawhide acc. by Crazy Hillbillies Band)
  45577 B She's A Flower From The Fields Of Alabama (Sue and Rawhide acc. by Crazy Hillbillies Band)
  45579 A Going Down The Road Feeling Bad (as Crazy Hillbillies Band)
  45579 B Leaving On The New River Train (as Crazy Hillbillies Band)


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