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Cowboy with Viola ties inducted into Hall of Fame

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Staff Writer

A young woman attending college in Pittsburgh, Kan., during the early 1920s was asked by her landlord if she wanted tickets to attend a rodeo.

She was perplexed by the offer because her parents told her it was distasteful for a young lady to attend such an event. After initially turning her landlord down, the young lady relented and went to the show.

As she stood outside of the rodeo with two of her friends, a cowboy rode up to her and said, "Hello, Blondie!"

From that moment on Gertrude Allender's life would never be the same.

The cowboy who rode up to Allender was Tex Slocum, a rodeo cowboy extraordiniare.

Slocum was inducted this year into the Rodeo Hall of Fame.

And for 37 years after they met, Allender and Slocumb would live as man and wife.

"She really loved Tex and the life they shared together," said Wilma Cooper, the wife of Gertrude's nephew.

Allender's love for Slocum was so great that Allender vigorously worked to get him admitted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame after his death in 1963, said Cooper.

Allender, a Viola native, joined Slocum in his cowboy adventures shortly after their marriage.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s the couple traveled throughout the western states performing at wild west shows and rodeos.

During his long rodeo career Slocum performed in front of several famous people including President Calvin Coolidge, and he toured with Ringling Brothers Circus.

Slocum won many awards including a World Championship Steer Wrestling title. He was Iowa all-around rodeo champion from 1928 to 1930. He received an honorary belt from an Irish Lord after winning a bet that he could ride an untamed horse for over a minute.

Allender rode in rodeo pageants and supported her husband by taking part in other rodeo functions.

"It was a lifestyle she loved," Cooper said.

Allender loved to watch her husband perform until he suffered a near fatal fall in 1931.

Slocum was in a coma for 12 days. Allender said he recuperated and returned to the professional rodeo circuit in 1934.

Slocum retired from professional rodeo competition with the onset of World War II. He worked as a carpenter in California until his death.

Several years after Slocum died, Allender married Merle Allender and the two settled in Viola.

Allender spent the next 30 years enjoying a second life with her new husband, but Tex was never far from her mind.

She worked tirelessly for his admission into the Rodeo Hall of Fame. Just prior to his induction, Allender died in 2002 at the age of 99.

Cooper said Salem teacher and rodeo enthusiast Jay Church accepted a medallion in honor of Slocum at the Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

Although neither Slocum nor Allender was there to accept the award, Cooper said the two were there in spirit.



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