Thursday, January 13, 2011

Roy and Dale

In a comment on yesterday's post, Donna talked about how much she loved Roy Rogers when she was a child. We must be soul sisters because I know just exactly how she feels.

As a child, I watched the Roy Rogers Show every day on our old television. I can't begin to tell you what an impression he made on my young mind and heart.

It's a memory I still carry with me. In fact, here's a picture frame we have in the rig, and as you can see, Roy and Dale are prominently displayed. The other pictures change from time to time, but Roy and Dale are a constant.

One of my favorite memories is of a visit we made to the Roy Rogers Museum, back in 1996. Below is an excerpt from my Disney newsletter that recounts the whole experience (and I apologize in advance, the writing would be different today, but I just did a cut and paste).

-the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum-

This isn't exactly Disney, but it touched me (Kate) in such a way that I wanted to share the experience.

On a recent trip to Southern California, we took a little side trip up to Victorville to visit the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum. These two have always been special to me, embodying a philosophy that has served to remind me of the standards and values that I consider so "Disney".

Not only have Roy Rogers and Dale Evans shared a long and illustrious career, but they have maintained a loving marriage, raised a family and spent a lifetime putting their money where their mouth is. Just in case you are unfamiliar with the pair (outside of their careers), they have always made time in their busy schedule to give of their time, visiting children's hospitals and orphanages, sharing of themselves wherever they went. And they not only talked a good game but they also adopted several children in addition to raising their own. They have worked tirelessly through the years, setting a wonderful example in both word and deed.

So we went to the Museum, not really knowing what to expect, but excited none the less. When we got there, we found it under heavy construction, but still open during the renovation. We wandered through, looking at the many tokens of their careers. In addition to their memorabilia, we found a thorough representation of the Western entertainment industry, as well as such personal mementos as the truck that brought Roy Rogers and his family to California back in the 1930s. The original NellyBelle is also on display. All of this was a great experience, showcasing not just the public lives, but also affording a glimpse into the private lives behind the public facade.

Then we came upon what is the really personal part of the museum. It's here that you have the chance to see all the family memorabilia that Roy has saved over the course of a lifetime. In the brochure for the museum, he states that "Everything we've ever done is right here for everyone to see" and it truly is.

As we wandered among the family photos and such odds and ends as tools and books, we began to get a strong sense of how important the family and tradition was to these two people. As we looked at the personal photographs and memories we couldn't escape the feeling that we were getting an "up close and personal" look at this couple. It's obvious that their love of life is not just something they talk about but something they've lived in their daily life. And they are willing to share it with everyone.

I actually felt like I was getting a chance to know these people.

Then I wandered into a little nook that brought it all home in a way I wouldn't have thought possible. There is a small part of the museum that's devoted to the children Roy Rogers and Dale Evans have lost over the years. Such things as birth certificates, report cards, and booties are on display. They also share such items as personal letters from the children and their own personal observations from these early lives. After I was there for a time, I found tears in my eyes, the pure love and generosity I felt from this display was that moving. It made me feel like I was a real part of these lives, sharing in not only the highs but also the lows, involving me in a way I find all too rarely in this modern world.

And I thought to myself how I would love to have the opportunity to meet these folks, for I'm sure that they are just as warm and dear as can be.

Then we heard the Roy Rogers himself was in the museum. I thought how nice it would be to shake his hand, but when I saw him come around the corner, there was such a push and ruckus that I didn't have the heart to impose on him further. I felt he had already shared more than most people do in a lifetime.

So I just stood back and watched, and said a silent "Thank You" to this most special man. I only wish I could have had the chance to see Dale also, but that's all right. I feel they have already shared more than enough.

If you ever find yourself in the area, make a special effort to visit the museum. Its right off the highway in Victorville, about 90 minutes away from Disneyland, but very close in spirit.


a note: we again went to the museum some years after both Roy and Dale had passed. They had moved it to a new facility and it had somehow lost it's charm. After that, it was again moved, this time to Branson Mo.


We went to the auction house again today and we're told that they are very close to full for the auction next Thursday. With that news, we're going to start boxing up pieces for the next auction that will be held on Feb 3.

It actually feels like we may be making some headway.


Jonna said...

I went to the Roy Rogers museum once, it was still in Victorville and I was half a century younger. Sicko that I am, all I remember about it now is that they had Trigger stuffed and on display. It creeped me out.

I liked the Roy Rogers show but my real love was The Cisco Kid. Kind of fits with my end of life home no?

Donna K said...

One of my sad confessions is that I never had the opportunity to visit the Roy Rogers museum while it was in Victorville. As I read your post, I remembered that I still have a small yellow 78rpm record. On one side is Roy singing "The Lord's Prayer" and on the reverse is Dale singing "Ave Maria". Somewhere I have a record of them singing "Happy Trails to you" but can't remember where it is!! Good post. I love that photo of Roy and Dale you have posted. They were good people.

Big Matt said...

Ah, love Roy and Dale, have hours and hours and hours of the old Roy Rogers Show on Phonograph record and reel-to-reel tape in storage right now, along with Sherlock Holmes with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce :).

meowmomma said...

Sadly, the Branson museum has now closed also and some of the items from it were sold last year at auction. A TV or radio station (I can't remember which) in Nebraska purchased Trigger. That's really all I know about... I think most of the things you wrote about were there in Branson. Sad that members of the family didn't want some of those things...