From the time I was a little girl until I was an adult, this man appeared on television at least once each week. As a little girl I’d rush home to watch reruns of his series and as I grew up his movies appeared on television each Sunday morning. I wanted to, no I knew I would, grow up to marry my hero, Roy Rogers.
Roy was the perfect hero. He had the looks, he had the voice, he had the faithful companionship of his guy friends, and he had the most beautiful horse I’d ever seen. (As a little girl I was constantly asking my parents for a horse. Nevermind that we lived in town and had a regular house on a regular street…I was convinced we could tie the horse out in the back yard and keep him in my dad’s tool shed. Never got the horse…..) Plus he always got the girl! He could sing, he could outwit all the bad guys and he was handsome. He was the cowboy in the white hat who always beat the bad guys in the black hats. Ever notice that? As I look back, he was dressed mighty dandy too for a cowboy in the old West.
Now, I had a problem back then with Dale Evans. I was all of six years old when I realized my hero was married. My sister, cousin and I would often play cowboys and Indians…and I, being the youngest and the least confrontational, was never Dale (which suited me fine because I just knew someday Roy would prefer me). My cousin was Roy and my sister would be Dale and they would ride their stick horses all over the yard and defeat all those imaginary bad guys. I hate to admit it, but they always gave me the role of Gabby Hayes. I never got to help defeat the bad guys…I was usually back at our imaginary wagon cooking mud pies for the hero and his lady-love. I guess this is why our imaginary world of Roy and Dale didn’t excite me nearly as much as his television appearances.
As the years passed, and television changed and reruns of those old cowboy movies became scarce as cable and satellite channels multiplied I forgot my friend Roy. Occasionally I’d catch an old movie and sit with my family and watch it, but not too often. Roy and Dale got older and started a museum in California with memorabilia of their movie and television days. Nellie the Jeep, all their old costumes…even Trigger and Bullet…were on display and I hoped someday to make it there to walk through and relive old times. Alas, that never happened and now I have read that all the contents of the old museum will be up for sale. According to news reports, even Trigger and Bullet and Nellie will be up for auction along with Dale’s horse (now stuffed as are Trigger and Bullet).
It is sad to see a part of my childhood going away. While the museum was in California, and later located in Branson, I figured someday I’d amble through. With the baby boomers getting older our heroes are getting phased out and the heroes of those younger generations will be immortalized in museums for them to see. But I will never forget my first hero.