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Woody Guthrie in California

Woody Guthrie and Maxine Crissman started performing on KFVD in Los Angeles as The Woody and Lefty Lou Show in 1937. In 1938 a big offer came to move the program to 1010 XELO-AM in Tijuana. The deal included a big raise, a longer program and creative control. It was a “border blaster” that sent Woody’s program across the Midwest and into Canada. They had a misunderstanding with the Mexican police and Woody was briefly arrested. Woody quickly became disillusioned when the sponsor, Peruna Tonic, started “blue-lining” (censoring) whole verses of his songs. The whole adventure lasted only 3 weeks. When they didn’t get the money they had been promised, they went back to KVFD. Maxine fell ill and had difficulty performing, and the show fizzled out. Woody left for New York in 1939.

This rare cutout card is a souvenir from that time in Woody’s life. While the card says “Made in U.S.A.”, it also says “Compliments of Peruna”, sponsor of the Tijuana show. It’s unclear where and when the picture was taken. The guy listed as “Oklahoma” is Jack Guthrie, Woody’s younger but much taller cousin. He would later have a small series of post-war hits on Capitol Records. Jeff and Alleene were Guthrie’s uncle and aunt.

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