Friday, July 11, 2008

Lasting Memories of a Cowboy Hero

I may be over 60, but I’m not ashamed to admit I got misty-eyed when I learned of Roy Rogers’ death. Roy died ten years ago this week on July 6, 1998. Like all boys who grew up during the 1950’s, I loved playing ‘Cowboys and Indians.’ Roy Rogers was my hero, and although I never got to meet him, when I was 8 or 9 years old, he called me on the telephone.

Long before that memorable phone call, I joined the Roy Rogers Riders’ Club and owned, among other things, a prized leather two-gun holster set just like his. It had been on display in the toy section of the Elnora Clothing Store just before Christmas. On Christmas morning, it was mine.

Sometime later, the exact year being a blur in my crowded memory bank, came the best news ever. Rogers was coming to Washington, the county seat of Daviess County, to host a meeting of “The Club.” My father knew how excited I was and agreed to take me.

The long-awaited day finally came, and so did the snow. We lived only 16 miles away, but my dad said it was just too dangerous to go, both from a driving standpoint and also because I hadn’t yet fully mastered walking on ice and snow due to residual effects of polio. The show was going to be broadcast on WFML, but we had no FM radio. I was devastated.

Then, about a half-hour before Roy was to go on stage, our telephone rang. My dad handed me the receiver, and you can guess the rest. Roy and I talked probably no more than three minutes, but they were the best three minutes of my young life.

A few days later, I received an autographed picture of Roy along with some other treasures in the mail. Unfortunately, my picture and the other things disappeared over the years, but the memory of that telephone call will last forever. Happy trails, partner. I still miss you.

No comments: