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On The Rural Route
Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686

MONTGOMERY Happy Trails To You..." The song conjures of memories of a hero, who by today's standards, would seem corny, to say the least. He wore a white hat, spoke softly, uttering words like "yes ma'am," and "no sir" through a cowboy drawl. He was a straight shooter who always fought the good fight and won. He was Roy Rogers, king of the cowboys, and role model for a generation of wanna be cowboys.

Rogers died of congestive heart failure July 6 at his home in Apple Valley California. He was 86.

Although he grew up with little formal education and practically no theatrical training, his smooth voice along with his good looks and manners carried him a long way in life from his humble beginnings as an Ohio farm boy.

From 1943 to 1954 he was the top-rated Western star. He and his wife of 51 years, Dale Evans, exemplified the perfect marriage. Unlike many of today's top stars, when they said 'till death do us part, they meant it.

Trigger was one of my favorite actors on the show. As a young horse fancier, he was the perfect horse. The sure-footed, golden palomino with a flowing white mane and tail, carried the singing cowboy down dangerous trails, galloping after villains.

As one old cowboy told me after hearing of his hero's recent death, "Roy Rogers stood for everything that was good. He used to take us on the trail with him for just a nickel every Saturday afternoon." The rest of the week, the old cowhand recalled, was spent acting out the scenes for the previous Saturday's performance.

Although I was born after his prime, Rogers held me spellbound in reruns. But unlike many girls, I didn't want to be Dale Evans, who stayed back at the ranch and never got into a scrap. I wanted to mix it up with the bad guys, chasing them down with Triggers' white mane whisking in my face. I wanted to draw my six-shooter on the bad guys and blast the guns out of their hands. Then, of course, they would know they were no match and would march dutifully into the city jail, as they did for Roy.

In a day when heroes are usually sports figures with abnormal behavior and flamboyant lifestyles, wouldn't it be nice to have a Roy Rogers ride in to save the day.

Rogers was more than an entertainer. He was a real-life hero who never wavered. He died with his reputation as a good guy still in tact. Thanks for the memories, Roy. Happy trails, until we meet again.

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