Thursday, August 25, 2005

Game Show Cowboys, Part I

If you had been watching CBS at 11 am on February 7, 1994, you'd have seen Rod Roddy follow my grandfather's name with his signature catchphrase, "Come on down, you're the next contestant on The Price is Right!"

Papa Cowboy, a 72-year-old retired police chief and decorated military veteran, and Nana Cowboy awoke at 5 am to beat the crowd of tourists to the line for show tickets. Armed with the Cowboy Family wit and a black T-shirt that read "From One Silver Fox to Another," Papa C. made it down to contestant's row and up on the stage as the fifth contestant after winning a fabulous washer/dryer (he bid $801, the actual retail price was $808).

Not a stranger to game shows, Papa Cowboy beat out five opponents on Card Sharks and won $12,600 just six years earlier. We watched the tape of that masterful performance quite often throughout my junior year of college, mostly with me cringing as my grandfather shouted "Highaa" and "Lowaa" at the cards when it came time for him to decide. The Price is Right was his Holy Grail, though, and this fulfilled his lifelong dream.

After making it on stage with Bobby Barker, the two silver foxes sauntered over to the Safe Cracker game, where Papa C. won a trip to Berlin and a set of designer luggage. He would have lost had Bob not stepped in and basically guided him to victory, essentially telling him the right answer in a not-so-subtle manner. It was time to spin the big wheel in the Showcase Showdown, he gave it a whirl and it landed on 95 cents, earning him a spot in the final round.

In the final showcase round, Papa C. bid $16,800 on two trips to San Francisco and Newport, Rhode Island, as well as car rentals and tours, and a 23-foot sailboat. The actual retail price of his showcase turned out to be $19,000, and he was indeed the closest without going over. Nana Cowboy jumped on stage as the music played and Barker preached about pet testes and fallopian tubes. The two celebrated as the show went off the air. Victory!

Papa C. was funny, personable, and Barker and the crowd really loved him that day. He left the studio a bigger celebrity than he ever could have imagined, people in line for the next show touching him for good luck. This was my grandparents' 50th anniversary trip, where the couple also renewed their vows and took in some sights. But according to show rules, he was now barred from game-show competition for the next decade.

"I'm going to let someone else get a chance to win, "Papa Cowboy said to Sun Sentinel following the show. "I got my wish and I'm happy. How lucky can you get?"

Coming up later, an exciting Part II where this story actually becomes relevant to my daily life.


At 3:07 PM, Blogger ethan said...

too bad he didn't get to play blinko. great game.

At 3:10 PM, Anonymous HANDSTAND said...

wtf is blinko?


At 3:47 PM, Blogger abby said...

What a nice little story, Ace.

At 3:49 PM, Blogger John Howard said...

I like the one where the little guy climbs up the hill.

At 4:01 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Thanks, Abby...hopefully part II won't be a complete letdown, but it will be.

Blinko is blaspehmous...please tell me that's a typo, Ethan. Mind your P's and Q's, but especially the P's.

Cliffhanger has a great yodeling theme song to it, it's glorious.

At 4:20 PM, Blogger ethan said...

yeah. definitely a tybo. the p's and b's are so close together, you know/

At 4:38 PM, Blogger jakezebra said...

Wasn't Blinko the game where the contestant rolls a die for each digit in the price of a car then must guess if the roll of the die is higher or lower than the corresponding digit in the car?

At 5:20 PM, Blogger MDS said...

Is Part 2 going to examine Barker's Beauties, and the fact that Bob nailed one of them?

At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

no jake, blinko is when they drop eyeballs down the board instead of those cool plastic discs.

At 10:44 PM, Anonymous HANDSTAND said...

no jake, blinko is when they drop eyeballs down the board instead of those cool plastic discs.


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