Roy Rogers Memorabilia


Roy Rogers Memorabilia

The “old time” readers will remember the popular singing cowboy of the 1930 to 1960 era, Roy Rogers.  This movie and television personality came to mind as I read several articles recently in the local newspaper.

Born Leonard Sly, he changed his name to Roy Rogers when he began to play the leading role in Hollywood western movies and came to take first place in popular appeal. 

Millions of youngsters idolized him and faithfully followed his escapades in the movies as well as on his weekly radio program.  When television invaded the culture, Roy had his own show for some years.  Then he continued to be seen on TV for decades thereafter.  When not traveling, Roy was at his Roy Rogers Museum in California.  Then, for some years, the “Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum” was located in Branson, Missouri.

One article was entitled, “Bidding ‘Happy Trails’ to Roy Rogers Memorabilia.”  Another was entitled “Cable TV Network Buys Trigger at Roy and Dale Evans Auction,” and a third notice was entitled, “Bullet, Roy Roger’s Stuffed Dog, Sells for $35,000.”   These articles described the closing of the museum (I suppose for lack of interest or popularity) and the auction of hundreds of items from Roy and Dale’s career in the movies and television.  Prospective bidders from many places resorted to Christie’s in Manhattan where Roy’s possessions were on display and then sold to the highest bidder.

Roy Rogers was deeply devoted to his famous horse Trigger, mounted in a rearing position, who was known for doing horse tricks and helping his master chase the criminals in the movies and on TV.  This mounted horse sold for $266,500 to Steve Campione of RFD-TV, an Omaha, Nebraska network that airs agriculture, horse, and country living programs.  He said that Roy Rogers reflected the wholesome perspective of the network.  Campione also bought Bullet, Roy’s German Shepherd, for $35,000.  Dale Evan’s horse, Buttermilk, sold for $25,000.

Roy’s 1964 Bonneville convertible brought $254,500.  Of the more than 1,000 items, there were about 60 pairs of boots, “Nellybelle” (the Jeep from the television program), Roy’s guitars, and other items.

Cathy Elkies, the auctioneer, stated that the auction was the “most colorful, emotional and sentimental” sale that she experienced in all of her 20 years auctioning at this location.  Tears flowed as people observed the items and people recalled this Western icon of a generation past.

As I read this poignant description of the items being sold, I thought of the mysteries of life.  At one time, Roy captured the imagination of millions of American youth (including myself).  He seemed to solve every problem, know what to do in every situation, be able to fight every criminal, and escape from every capture.  He was a “clean” cowboy, with no smoking, no drinking, no unnecessary violence.  In those days, the hero wore the white hat and asked for milk at the bar instead of liquor!  Roy would appear in American rodeos, adorned with costly costumes, riding his famous horse, Trigger.  Young boys and girls (and perhaps adults) considered him their hero.  All of this amounted to idolatry, of course, and this was plainly condemned in Scripture: “Guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).  “Flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14).  The covetousness that must have prompted much of the bidding is also considered idolatry (Ephesians 5:5).

Roy Rogers died several years ago (see this website for an early article on his life and death).  A life was ended and the remaining items that testified that Roy Rogers lived were passing away.  They were mere “things” that meant nothing in the eternal balance of values.  One day they will burn up, along with everything else in the universe (2 Peter 3:10-12).

Shouldn’t this cause each of us to evaluate our own life and ask what we are doing with our passing years?  What are we accumulating here on earth that has no spiritual and eternal value?  What are we buying, collecting, and using that mean nothing at all spiritually—and may even prove to be a weight to our soul and a detriment to our spiritual growth?  John says that we are not to love the world and “the world is passing away” (1 John 2:15, 17). 

As someone wisely pointed out, only two things will re—the Word of God (1 Peter 1:25) and human beings (Matthew 25:46).  Are we devoting ourselves to God’s word and people?  Let’s not be fixed on “things” but on God and people, for they will endure forever!

Richard Hollerman

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