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Rogers and Dale Evans Are Still Good Influences
a parent, I spend a great deal of time thinking — and worrying — about
what my child is exposed to in this world.
It might be something she sees on the street; it may be an inappropriate commercial
squeezed between parts of an otherwise wholesome family show on television, but
there is no shortage of material to give this mother of an 8-year-old girl more
than a few sleepless nights.
I wasn’t looking for role models when I took my daughter to the Roy Rogers-Dale
Evans Film Festival last month. Because I had the good fortune to get to do some
writing for Rogers and Evans, my daughter has been around their family most of
her life. She adores them, and looks forward to the film festival all year long.
The Rogers family moved to Branson, Mo., last year, and we knew they wouldn’t
make the festival this time. So we just went for the movies, and to help raise
a little money for the Happy Trails Children’s Foundation, which supports
the Cooper Home for Abused and Neglected Children in Apple Valley.
But we got so much more.
For two days, we watched old movies. Some were in black and white; some, we learned
from experts who introduced the films, were in “Trucolor.” In some,
Dale Evans starred opposite her husband; in others, we were introduced to leading
ladies like Penny Edwards and Phyllis Brooks.
We watched movie after movie, and listened to panels of old-time Western stuntmen
talk about their experiences. We bought film festival T-shirts and ate way too
much junk from the theater concession stand.
We thrilled at the sight of Roy Rogers and his golden Palomino, Trigger, racing
across the screen. We laughed to see Dale Evans, portraying an ex-Marine ichthyologist,
getting the best of her opponents.
We also watched “A Day at the Ranch,” a slideshow from an event held
last year as part of the festival. The show consisted of stills taken during
a day-long open house at a local ranch that once was owned by Roy and Dale, and
which has been lovingly restored.
My little girl, who had donned a battered cowboy hat and a pink bandanna for
the festival, begged me to take her to the ranch open house scheduled for the
day after this year’s festival. I explained that it wasn’t possible — it
would be a school and work day for us.
I didn’t realize how disappointed she was until the next movie started.
I looked over, and realized she was crying.
I’m sure part of it was that she is used to getting to do a lot of fun
stuff with Mom. I rarely say “no” to adventure.
But as I watched Roy, Dale and Trigger on the big screen, it occurred to me that
what she really wanted was to be closer to the action — to be part of what
she was seeing in the movies.
On the big screen, she saw Roy fighting for truth and justice. She saw him protecting
every underdog, from Native Americans threatened with displacement by a greedy
businessman to salmon threatened by the over-fishing of a river.
Sure, Roy used guns and his fists. But he also used his brains, outsmarting not
only the bad guys, but well-intentioned good guys who frequently mistook our
hero for the bad guy.
Watching Roy, and listening to the messages that sometimes get downright preachy
in his films, my little girl was influenced, in the best of ways.
Some of the films we watched were made more than 60 years ago. But these stories
have endured and continued to endear, I believe, because they’re good.
Maybe not in an Academy Award kind of way, but in a more important way.
In Roy’s old films, crime doesn’t pay. Not only does the good guy
triumph, but the bad guy always gets what he deserves.
Oh, and the good guy always gets the girl.
Most of the people in the audience appeared to be of the age that they might
have grown up with Roy. During between-film conversation, some of the women admitted
how they’d swooned over the singing cowboy.
My own little girl admitted to me that she thought Roy Rogers was “kind
of cute.” For a moment, I’m pretty sure she, too, swooned.
In a clip we watched together, Roy closed with these words: “Goodbye, good
luck, and may the Good Lord take a liking to you.”
I wish I could tell Roy Rogers that I hope the Good Lord has taken a liking to
Because my little girl certainly has.
J’Amy Pacheco is editor of the San Bernardino Bulletin, a Metropolitan
News Co. publication.
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