Roy Rogers

by Arnold Nelson


This is a story about my hero, The King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers. I wrote this to show what a great man Roy was.

This story is mainly for the people over 60. Those of you who can remember going to the theaters and watching the Westerns and being able to tell the good cowboys from the bad Cowboys. The good Cowboys always wore white hats and bad Cowboys always wore black hats. The people who watched the westerns on little black and white screens with big cabinets.

One of those Cowboys, Roy Rogers was a particular favorite he was my hero along with his wife Dale Evans they were the king and queen of cowboys. I am writing this to show everybody what kind of a man Roy was. He was generous and helpful and he would do any thing he could help you out. They had a big family it was a very loving family. They had Tom Fox Jr. from Dale's first marriage. Roy and his wife Arlene adopted Cheryl and three years later they had Linda. Then a couple years after that they had Roy Jr. who they would always referred to as Dusty. After Arlene died from complications of childbirth Roy Married Dale Evans. Shortly after that they had a baby Robin who had Down Syndrome and died from that and the mumps just before her second birthday. Then they adopted Dodie and John who they call Sandy. Shortly after that they made Marian a part of their family. She was a Scottish resident and because of that they were not allowed to adopt her but she was a part of their family just the same. Later they adopted Debbie an Amerasian baby from Korea.

Leonard Sly was born November 5 1911 in Cincinnati Ohio. His parents were Andy and Maddie Sly. When Leonard was a small boy Andy moved the family out of the city to a farm in Duckrun Ohio. They soon found out that the farm would not support the family So Andy got a job in the city working in a shoe store. When Leonard was in high school he saw how hard his family had it, so he quit school and started working with his father in a shoe factory. Leonard's older sister and her husband had moved to Lawndale California (Just south of Los Angeles). She talked Leonard and her parents into moving to Lawndale. They figured they would have a better chance in California. Leonard and his father found jobs pretty easily but because the depression the jobs didn't last very long so they were always changing jobs.

Leonard was trying to get his singing career going. He sang with several groups but not of them went very far. By 1933 Leonard had started his own group with Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer. They call themselves the Pioneers. They were fairly successful. One time when they were introduced they were introduced at the Sons of the Pioneers. After the show they asked emcee why he introduced him that way. He said you're too young to be pioneers but you can be Sons of the Pioneers. The name stuck and after that they were called the Sons of the Pioneers. The Sons of the Pioneers have lost and added many singers to their group. Almost 85 years later they are still singing.

One day when Leonard was getting his only hat clean. A man rush in and said they were looking for a new singing cowboy. Gene Autry was about to walk out of his contract. They were having auditions at the studios next day. So the next day Leonard got in there and made his audition and they hired him to be the next singing cowboy. His name was changed to Roy Rogers and he became the King of the Cowboys.

He realized he needed some representation someone told him about a man named Art Rush who represented many actors and actresses. They had dinner one night to talk about it. Roy was not really sold on Art. Roy asked Art where he was from. When Art said Ohio that sealed the agreement they shook hands and that was the only agreement they ever have and Art represented him for the rest of Roy's life. After Roy and Dale got married Art represented her too.

Arlene died after the birth of Dusty from complications. Roy called Art to come pick him up at the hospital. Art said when he got to the hospital he found Roy sitting on the tailgate of his station wagon signing autographs for children with tears running down his face.

One time in the early 50s when Roy and Dale were entertaining at Madison Square Garden's. Roy wanted to ride out and sing Peace in the Valley. The people that ran the show just about had a fit they told him he could not do that. You cannot sing religious music in Madison Square Garden. Roy won, he rode out and sang Peace in the Valley. Everybody loved it. Roy died July 6, 1998. Dale had been working on her last book at the time. And she asked all her kids to write what Roy Rogers meant to them.

The name of the book is "Rainbow on our Trail." I am told this book is kind of hard to find but is well worth looking for. One of my sisters got a copy for me and I read all in one afternoon. Here is what her kids said about Roy Rogers

Tom, Dale's son wrote "I never knew my real father. So for the first 20 years of my life the dad image was missing in my life. When Roy came into my life I found man who would become a real father to me-finally! He was a man who revered fairness and honesty, a man of his word who could be depended upon. He really knew what commitment was and he practice it. He was a down-home guy who became an international model for right living. His legacy has become invaluable for people all over the world. I miss him. He love me and I loved him!" Sadly Tom died on June 16 2012. he was 84. he is with Roy and Dale now.

Next was Cheryl, Roy's first child. She recalls her father's empathy with children and with animals. She remembers his uncommon skill with horses in the "Liberty" act at state fairs when the steeds perform for him free and unharnessed. She also remembered a short-lived venture to raise rabbits on a ranch in San Fernando Valley "Dad's only failure with animals," Cheryl said "Was his failure to control the rabbits, who multiply more quickly than he could give them away- until that fateful day when they sealed their own fate by multiplying to the number five hundred."

Linda the second girl remembers her papa as "An awesome hero he was a wonderful man, a very special father. He loved his family and provided for their needs while teaching his children the value of the dollar and importance of working hard and never expecting to get something for nothing."

"As children we shared our papa with kids in every country around the world. He could walk into a hospital ward, and the faces of the kids would light up with a new determination to get well."

"We shared our papa with studios, movie theater, state fairs, rodeo's, recording sessions, radio programs, location sites, and all kinds of public appearances. His fans adore them and the lessons he taught on stage or at the microphone were the lessons he taught us at home- lessons on honesty, and truthfulness, being fair, equality for everyone, responsibility, and never making fun of anyone who is different."

"We shared our papa with the world all of our lives and in death we are sharing him again. But we cannot forget that God share him first with us.. He loaned us this awesome hero, this wonderful man, and this very special father for 86 years and we are very grateful for the time we had with him."

Dusty, Roy first son noted that Roy Rogers was a star because of his childlike spirit. "And dad did not like late!" He observed "Dad loved to be where he was and he loved to do what he did."

Marion, their Scottish ward, had not known the love of a father or mother until she was 13 Without the care of Roy and Dale she said and their guiding and modeling for her "I would never have known how to be a parent to my own children"

Dodie, their Indian daughter express her thoughts this way "A dad changes throughout your life when I was a little girl he was my daddy who hugged me and played with me; as I was growing up he was a steadfast pillar- gentle and kindhearted but strong. He was consistent in discipline, I always knew the boundaries (Mom I could some time bend.) he led by example, by trusting, by honesty and even by working out his weaknesses, which helped me to get through mine. He was a dad I was proud of, a man respected among all men."

I was so impressed the first time I read what these kids wrote that I knew I had to share it. So that was the main reason I wrote the story to show everyone what kind of person my hero, Roy Rogers, was.

It wasn't always easy for them in 1950 after the birth of Robin. They found out about her having Down Syndrome. The Doctors told them to put Robin in a home and forget about her. That was the way they dealt with Down Syndrome back then. This infuriated Roy and Dale. They swore the would take her home and take care of her the best they could. They had round-the-clock nurses for Robin but unfortunately just before his second birthday the mumps went through the family. As much as they tried to isolate her she got the mumps anyway. She died a few days later one day before her second birthday. Dale Evans wrote "Angel Unaware" as a tribute to Robin. Several generations have read it and they all have benefited from Robins story.

In Oklahoma there is an organization called Dale Evens Training Center. It was started in 1953 and named after Dale Evan because she refused to give Robin up when the doctors told her too. The center helps handicapped people find jobs. There are 5 centers in Oklahoma now. In 2009 the Roy Rogers Dale Evans museum was losing money. Roy told Dusty when the museum starts losing money close it down and sell the stuff. As Dusty was getting reading for the auction he got a letter from the lady that runs the Dale Evans training center in Oklahoma. She asked for Robin's stuff so they could build a corner for Robin in the center. Dusty though about it and decided that was what his mother would want. So he gave all of Robin's stuff to the training center. Now there is a corner in there called Robins Corner.

In 1964 a few days after Debbie's birthday she went on a field trip with her church group down to Tijuana to help out in an orphanage down there. On the way back the bus blew a tire and Debbie and one of her girlfriends were killed in the accident. Dodie was supposed to go too but she was sick that day so her mother made her stay home. Dale wrote "Dearest Debbie" to remember Debbie

When Sandy turned 18 in 1965 he joined the Army he'd always loved uniforms and the military and more than anything he wanted to do drive a tank. At first they told him he was too small but in 1965 he was allowed into tank school and he graduated. That night all the boys celebrated and got drunk. Sandy had way too much to drink and he died in the middle of the night of alcohol poisoning. Dale wrote "A Salute to Sandy" after Sandy's death in his honor.

I have read all three books and I enjoyed all three and I learned a lot from reading them. I highly recommend them.

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