Happy Birthday, Roy Rogers

Roy Rogers (11/5/1911 – 7/6/1998)

I had the honor of shaking Roy Rogers hand.  It was one morning when I was driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and saw the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum, in Victorville, California, off beside Interstate 15.  I’d driven by the museum so many times, always promising myself I would stop, but never did.  It was on the other side of the highway, and you had to exit a ways down the road and double back. 

I stopped that day, and was so glad I did.  I spent a couple enjoyable hours in the museum and gift shop:  Dale Evans’ gorgeous dresses she wore on stage in and movies, Roy Rogers’ gun collection, his tools, lots of pictures and memorabilia.  I have to admit, it was upsetting for me to see Trigger there, stuffed, and rearing on his hind legs, but I’ve never understood having pets stuffed, in general.  But I know Roy Rogers loved that horse, and it continues to be the museum’s most popular exhibit.    The gift shop is good, too, with lots of fun souveniers from mouse pads, calendars, lunch boxes, etc.

As I was leaving the museum, there standing in the lobby is Roy Rogers!   I couldn’t believe it was him.  I thought it must be someone who dresses up like him and hangs out at the museum.  But he was standing there, shaking hands, and I knew it was him when someone asked him how Dale Evans, his wife, was doing.  He said she was still feeling poorly, she was at home, but he would pass on our good wishes.  Roy, 80 at the time, looked healthy and fit.  They were still living on the high desert, not far from the museum.

In the 1950’s cowboys were heroes, and Roy Rogers was one of the biggest.   Kids wanted to grow up and be like him, or Hopalong Cassidy or Davy Crockett. When these cowboys were on television in 1958 there were 24 Westerns in prime time television — these were the role models for kids.

Roy Rogers was a real cowboy, and could sing, ride horses, shoot a gun and use his fists -all in a 1/2 hour show!  He wore the white hat and fought for truth and justice. Roy Rogers loved horses, and along with wife Dale Evans, his famous horse Trigger was a star in his t.v. show, which was set on the Double R Bar Ranch.  Other stars:  Dale Evan’s horse Buttermilk, their dog Bullet, sidekick Pat Brady and even a jeep named Nellybelle starred in the show. 

You can’t visit the museum in the California desert now, because in 2003 it was moved from Victorville (where it had been since 1976) to Branson, Missouri.  This is good, I guess, because more people will get the chance to visit it.   But I will miss seeing the sign the next time I make that drive down Highway 15.

Their website is worth the visti:  www.Royrogers.com

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