Curley Bradley had actually been one of the stuntmen who had worked in the movies on the real Tom Mix movies. He sang with a group called The Ranch Boys Trio. He played the part of “Pecos” on the Tom Mix radio show and sang often. He had a nice light, baritone voice and it stood him in good stead when he took over the part of Tom Mix when Russell Thorson left the show. He sang out for Ralston Cereal at the beginning of the show to the tune of “When It’s Round-up Time In Texas”:
Gives you lots of cowboy energy, with a flavor that’s just right.
Made of golden western wheat.
So take a tip from Tom,
go and tell your Mom,
Hot Ralston can’t be beat!
Who could resist, especially when we needed those box-tops for the wonderful TM-Bar premiums from “Checkerboard Square”?
Checkerboard Square was the address where we mailed those box-tops and our coins to secure wonderful premiums that helped us relive Tom Mix’s adventures in the wild west. It is a fact that the premiums lasted over a year beyond the cancellation of the show in 1950. I always thought Captain Midnight was the king of the premiums, I certainly drank enough Ovaltine to make it seem so. The truth is, Tom Mix was really the king. Over his years on radio he made almost 150 offers of western gear, guns, compasses, watch fobs, spinner charms, a movie make-up kit, magnifiers, rings, arrowheads, comics, caps, bandanas, identification bracelets, paper face masks, telephone sets, telegraph sets, lassos, spurs, belts, spyglasses, badges and even a live baby turtle was offered in a newspaper ad for two box-tops (or one box-top and a thin dime). If you were unsure of what was there to order, Ralston offered a Premium Catalog from 1936 through 1940. There were so many premiums waiting in the wings, that they continued for at least another year after the show was cancelled.
One of the premiums that remains in my memory, was the compass-magnifier combination. It started out plain, with nothing to tell us it was a TM-Bar product, but then it changed. It added a few western touches and that TM-Bar brand, ten years later it became a glow-in-the-dark plastic arrowhead that housed the compass and magnifier. That was the one I got. I wish I still had mine. The success of that arrowhead gave rise to another called “The Signal Arrowhead”. It was made of clear lucite plastic, it had a magniying lens, a “smallifying lens” (it reduced things in size) , a whirling siren whistle and a set of musical pipes built into it. Oddly enough, it did not glow in the dark. There were badges declaring you a Straight Shooter. There was even a decoder that made me wonder if Captain Midnight had passed his overflow onto Tom.
The anticipation of what Ralston might have waiting out there among the United Planets was almost too much to bear. I started saving box-tops. Ralston did not disappoint me and if you want to know what gems were out there in space, tune in next time. It’s quite a story (see Tom's Space Patrol Memories articles).