Today, I'm waxing rhapsodic. Not too long ago I was going through yet another box and out came an old scrapbook. A VERY old scrapbook, one kept by my mother. In typical my mother's style, there are two pages of neatly put together items and then a wad of cut out newspaper clippings stuffed between two pages.
My mother loved Roy Rogers and William Holden and there's an unbelievable cache of newspaper clippings about them, mostly Roy. And Dale. And their kids.
For years, there was a Roy Rogers museum, first in Apple Valley and then in Victorville. A two hour drive, more or less, from my mother's house. How many times did she go?
Well, you had to know my mother, if you did, that would make sense. Well, it never made sense, but it wouldn't surprise you, either.
My mother outlived Roy, but not by much. After her death the hubster and the boys and I started going to Las Vegas regularily. She probably didn't approve, but hey, it wasn't my problem anymore. Well, we spent a fair amount of time blasting by the Roy Rogers Museum, all rustic and wood and sitting cheerfully in the middle of it's big parking lot in Victorville. But, we were always in a hurry to get somewhere or it was closed.
One day we heard the rumor that it might be closing, moving to greener pastures or something like that. So we made the trip. Two whole hours drive time. We pulled into the huge and 98% empty parking lot, paid our two bucks (I actually don't remember how much it was) and spent a hot desert day happily wandering through the dark, cool rambling place, looking at silver saddles and original costumes from Nudie, reading newspaper clippings, taking pictures of Trigger, the usual stuff. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. So, when the announcement was official, the museum was moving to Branson, we made another trip. We met up with my father in the high desert for a farewell. As, frankly, I have no intentions of hanging out in Branson. I had a gut feeling the move was a bad idea, but then, no one asked me.
We not only wandered the cool dark interior of the ranch house, a cowboy taught us to lasso a post. We stocked up in the gift shop, but only stuff that said "Victorville, CA" on it. Including a set of four stone coasters which still sit on the end table in the living room. Several of them are pretty creepy dark now too because we use them. A lot. Coffee spills will win, eventually. And my father, ever prepared, brought his camera.
Fast forward to a month ago, when I unearthed the scrapbook. A small picture of the then dating Roy and Dale at the Coconut Grove. Roy and Dale get married. Roy and Dale have kids. Roy and Dale on TV, in movies, news reports of the daughter who was killed in a bus accident and a son who died as a young adult, it's all there. And, what to do with it? It's interesting but I don't have enough room for my own crap, let alone my mother's. So I thought, I know. I'll give it to the museum. I'll e-mail them and pack it up and send it to Branson.
Well, I was right, moving to Branson was a dumb idea. The museum closed for good late last year. The letter to members and fans on the website mentions the failing ecomony and the advanced age of Roy's fans.
Frankly, I always thought Branson was going to end up being a star gone Nova. It shone bright and burned hot for awhile and now it's turning into a gaseous ball of empty space. I mean, face it. I'm NOT going to drive to Missouri to see Andy Williams. Sure, the ticket prices are better but how much is it going to cost me to GET to Missouri? And then I'm stuck in Missouri. Watching Tony Orlando and the Lennon Sisters. Not all the Lennon Sisters either, just Janet and Kathy. And they've recruited Mimi, who never performed with them before. I'm guessing Peggy and Dianne ran screaming out of Missouri and took Dawn with them. There are a bazillion "tribute" shows and something called "Noah, the Musical." No, even I couldn't make that up. Suffice it to say Branson did NOT become the Broadway of the Midwest. More like the Laughlin of the Midwest. Without the slot machines.
So the museum, alas, is no more. The contents are systematically being auctioned off with one last, big blast to clear the entire kit and caboodle out coming up this July. On the block then will be the big, family dining room table made by George Montgomery. The jeep, named "Nellybelle" used on the TV show, their custom Cadillac (or maybe it was a Lincoln, I don't remember), a ton of beautiful saddles and tack and yes, God help us, Trigger.
While it saddens me that there are no longer any fans left it saddens me more that a) fans now age off the radar and there is no history to pass on. Grandparents didn't give their grandchildren a taste of the fun they had and the things that they appreciated. Some kid MIGHT want to go see the Roy Rogers Museum because he or she remembers watching "The Paleface" one weekend at Grandma's and they LOVED it but grandma never showed them that film and b) they've stooped to putting the stuffed horse on the auction block. Why don't you put your parent's headstones up while your at it? BTW, yes, I KNOW where those headstones are, I'm mildly surprised they didn't move Roy and Dale to Branson and try to make a buck off them, much like Lucy Arnaz did with HER mother.
Come on, guys...one of Roy's kids, grandkids, a rogue niece...please? Take Trigger with you. Jeez, who the hell wants a stuffed horse in their den anyway? Besides, he's on his hind legs, he's gonna be WAY too tall for the average room.
Have a heart. Keep the horse.