About The Group
Jimmie and Dick and the Novelty Boys with Cora Deane were a popular act in the 1940s and early 1950s. Jimmie was "Jimmie" Dana Marvin Pierson, born and raised in Kansas and went on to a career of his own later. Dick was Richard Benjamin "Noodle Soup" Klasi, a native of Utica, South Dakota. Both of them grew up on a farm and they first met in 1931.
At the time, they were both working with the Henry Field Company. As fate might have it, Jimmie began work on a Monday and Dick began on Wednesday of the same week.
As many local companies would do back then, the Henry Field Company sponsored daily programs that aired on radio station WJAG by remote control from a specially built studio and auditorium located at the east end of their branch store located in Norfolk, Nebraska.
About three months before the boys were teamed up, Jimmie was doing broadcasts two or three daily programs daily as a solo entertainer. He would sing, yodel and strum his "geetar" in accompaniment, doing the songs of the day. Between programs, he worked as a salesman in the store. Dick had the same routine - he was playing solo tunes on the piano and accordion.
Dick would also team up with Cleora Cooper and Johnny Buffinngton - billed as The Nebraskan Trio. Between programs, Dick handled the role of grocery clerk in the store.
Pate Simmons, "The Hired Hand", was the manager of the store and also the chief announcer fog most of the programs the boys did. It was Pete who gave Jimmie and Dick the name of "The Oklahoma Wranglers", which they used for about three years.
On nights when they didn't have to go back to the store after supper to either take inventory or sack beans, sugar, prunes, etc., they would travel around the local area and provide entertainment at house parties, pavilion and barn dances.
In the Spring of 1933, the boys got a bit of the rambling fever. On that tour, they stopped over at Sioux Falls, South Dakota to do broadcasts on KSOO for the Henry Field Company. From there, they hit the trail, going south to White Cloud, Kansas, Kansas City and points west. They traveled through Topeka and on to Abilene before going to Denver and then south to Pueblo, Colorado. In Pueblo, they stayed about three months doing daily broadcasts on radio station KGHF.
While they were at KGHF, the chief announcer on the staff gave them the name that they would use for a long time. Ralph tagged them "The Novelty Boys."
It was also Ralph Duncan who booked them to appear at the big 4th of July celebration at Colorado Springs. He also got them a two week engagement at the Star Delicatessen in Cheyenne, Wyoming during the time of the Annual Rodeo Roundup. From there, a quick trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico followed, where they did guest programs for a week at radio station KGGM. After that stint, they headed back to Pueblo where they met up with their wives and entertained the fans at the state fair under a big tent.
Fall of 1933 saw them move on to Shenandoah, Iowa with stop-overs at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma as well as a trip back to Jimmie's home in White Cloud, Robinson and Highland, Kansas, where they were able to visit relatives and old friends.
While they were in Shenandoah, they appeared for a short time over KFNF. After that, their careers moved to Omaha, Nebraska where they played for two weeks amd appeared over radio stations KOIL, WAAW and WOW, under the sponsorship of the Aksarben Horse Show and Rodeo Committee.
When that engagement was over, they headed to Yankton, South Dakota where for a time, they broadcast over WNAX.
When the spring of 1934 arrived, it found them in St. Louis, Missouri, where they stayed for three years, working at KMOX and also on the CBS radio network. Their personal appearances in the area included the venues one might expect such entertainers to play at - homecoming picnics, theaters as well as barn dances. They also worked a few of those appearances with a couple of local entertainers who were billed then as "The Hotfooters" - Wallie and Eddie Simmons. Those appearances usually took place within about a two hundred mile radius of St. Louis.
The summer of 1937, saw them embark on a sight seeing tour. They travelled by car and drove up to Canada, stopping by at Callander, Ontario just to see the home of the Dionne Quintuplets. From there they drove to Toronto, Niagara Falls, New York State and New York City. They finally ended their trip in Boston, where they promptly landed a job at WEEI that lasted four years.
The next year (about 1941) they spent at WBZ and WBZA. During the summer months from 1939 to 1942, they again moved themselves back to Bangor, Maine. There they had daily programs over WABI and made the usual personal appearances along the coast such as Deer Isle, Vinal Haven, Beals Island, as well as the towns and cities in the southern part of New Hampshire, eastern part of Massachusetts, Vineyard Haven and Nantucket Island.
Their song folio tells us a bit of what their stage show was like. They wrote it was typically a two hour radio show and included amateur contests along with local guest stars. Along about this time, their show included, Jimmie and Dick - The Novelty Boys, Cora Deane, known as the Kansas City Kitty, Flash Willie also known as the Singin' Jayhawker (Willie Pierson), another sister Frances Louise (known to fans as the Sunflower Gal) and Imogene Pierson (also known as The Kansas Cowgal).
Some of the local acts that were guests on their shows were
In the Fall of 1942, they headed to St. Louis, Missouri where they spent five months working at KMOX and CBS and also at WEW, KSD and KWK. The group was together until September 29, 1943 - Jimmie was inducted into the U.S. Army. At that point, Willie Pierson became part of the Novelty Boys and Cora Deane Trio regular act until Jimmie got his honorable discharge on Dec. 7, 1945.
From January 1 to April 28, 1944 Willie, Dick and Cora Deane were working at radio station KMA in Shenandoah, Iowa. They then headed up to WNAX out of Yankton, South Dakota, where they began working on May 1, 1944, staying there until March 2, 1946. While in South Dakota, they played many personal appearances "...with a Radio Troupe usually made up of nine entertainers, who were staff members of WNAX, and featured a Shindig and Floor Show to record breaking crowds." This may have been what became known as the Missouri Valley Barn Dance over WNAX. Articles we have seen indicate this was a unique weekly barn dance show in that the show was not based in one city, but rather, the show would move to various locations in its broadcasting area.
During his stay in Yankton, Willie sent for Lois and they were married on July 12, 1945. Lois was from Essex, Iowa, a blue-eyed blonde. Her birthday is on June 8th but they didn't want to say what year she was born. She was known in the troupe as "The Singin' Ticket Lady".
After leaving WNAX, Willie, Jimmie and Dick and Their Radio Troupe made two weeks' tour of personal appearances in the eastern part of South Dakota as they made their way East. In June, 1946, they made their way east to Bangor, Maine where they hooked up with a local radio station, playing a daily program over WABI and the usual personal appearances five and six nights every week from about the middle of July to the middle of October 1946.
In their song folio they mention a highlight of that time back east. It appears that their parents, Mr. & Mrs. E.O. Pierson were special guests on their show. They were billed as "Bud and Peggie" or "Mother and Dad Pierson". Their father played the five-string banjo and sang. While their mom would help out on the harmonies, except she claimed that "...hollerin' at the old man and ten children the past 40 years, she ha(d) kinda ost her singin' voice." Their wedding anniversary was November 29, 1906. Bud Pierson was a native of White Cloud, Kansas. His wife, Peggie nee Thrailkill, was born in Iowa Point, Kansas. The two of them lived on farms most of their lives. Around the mid-1940s, they lived on a 40-acre farm just north of Hiawatha.
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Credits & Sources
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