Every small town has at least one “colorful” character. Rube Lamont fit the bill for Kissimmee and although many people may have never heard of him, his background story is a fascinating one.
Born as Walter Savage in Morris County, New Jersey on June 9, 1876 he was the son of Eli C. and Catherine Savage. Walter was raised in Parsons, Kansas and played pro ball until enlisting in Company A 22nd Kansas Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish-American War. He was discharged November 3, 1898. It is not known when he began to call himself Rube Lamont.
Following his discharge he joined the Parsons Club and was a pitcher in the Kansas-Oklahoma-Texas League, playing with future baseball greats Joe Tinker, Johnny Kling, Joe McGinnity and Stack Lee. The “Big Top” called to Rube and he began a 30 year career with the circus in 1904, opening at the World’s Fair in St. Louis for Hale’s Fire Fighters and the Mexican Bull Fights. In 1905 he worked with the Buckskin Ben Wild West Show and the following year joined the John Robinson Circus as “a versatile circus performer”. Remaining with the Robinson Show until 1909, he left for a brief return to the baseball diamond, playing with various clubs in the mid-west.
1910 saw the return of Rube to the arena when he played with the Kemp Sisters’ Wild West Show at Kennywood Park and Electric Park, both in New Jersey; Prairie Lilly-Nebraska Bill’s Wild West Show in 1912, the Jess Willard-Buffalo Bill Show and numerous others including the Ringling Brothers - Barnum and Bailey Circus.
While living in Cape May, New Jersey from 1929 to 1934, Rube stayed out of show business and between Christmas and New Years in 1934 he moved to Kissimmee where he was ready to retire and spend his remaining days fishing, hunting and “loafing” around. His prowess at hunting and fishing soon put him in demand as a guide and during deer season he worked at Ocala National Forest and was still a guide at the time of his death.
His faithful dog, a mixture of redbone and bloodhound, was trained to follow the scent of man or beast and while working as a game warden Rube and his dog would follow the trail of crippled deer and illegal kills, resulting in several arrests. Together, they also sought out illegal hunters in Osceola and Orange Counties.
Walter Savage aka Rube Lamont died on October 8, 1956 at the age of 81 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery among numerous other Spanish-American War Veterans.
Photo Courtesy: Herald Staff Photo by Nixon Smiley / Property of OCHS