Hollywood at Four: A Memory of Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys
edited: Tuesday, June 16, 2009
By MaryAnn F. Kohl
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Monday, November 04, 2002
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Roy Rogers was every 1950's child's greatest hero. Here's why.
Hollywood at Four
~ a memory of Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys ~
MaryAnn F. Kohl
I was four years old and visiting Hollywood for the first time, reality and dreams blending in my young imagination until I could no longer distinguish one from the other. To this day I am sure I saw an angel sing while playing an electric organ in a restaurant. She wore a white organdy gown that billowed about her like a fluffy cloud, and she sat on a revolving pedestal high above the mortals below. She sang with a voice high and clear, playing melodies from her electric organ of glistening white. Her hair was white too, as white as her gown, with light shining through it so that it looked like starlight. I remember this in great detail as if it happened yesterday.
When we first arrived at the restaurant, my mother led me past the musical angel to a plush velvet booth set with sparkling crystal and large quantities of silverware. The white linen napkins were folded in a way that made me wonder if they were party hats.
Our family group of seven wound its way into the wrap-around booth, wearing our best dress-up clothes to celebrate a special family occasion --- the operatic debut of my 23-year-old aunt Czerna Faubion at the famous Hollywood Bowl. Shortly before arriving at the restaurant of angels, I had seen my Aunt Czerna standing inside a giant seashell singing to thousands of people. But for now, I remained mesmerized by the singing white angel, my eyes wide and mouth wider still. I was wondering: could I climb up on her pedestal and sit with her as she played and sang her music to the people eating their dinners and drinking their cocktails with clinking ice cubes? Would she like to see me wear the napkin party hat?
My thoughts were interrupted by something extremely important beginning to unfold by the restaurant entrance. I could see Roy and Dale. And I mean, “THE” Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, my heroes! It seemed right that they would be here before me in this magical Hollywood restaurant, except that one thing was totally out of place. I had never seen Dale and Roy without Trigger before. Where was Trigger, Roy’s horse and constant companion? Because this was Hollywood and magic was all around me, nothing could surprise my four-year-old self for long. And now Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were here to make my dreams come true , with or without Trigger.
Roy and Dale slid into the booth next to ours, laughing and talking with their friends. And, as children will, I popped right up on my feet and stared over the back of the bench, eyes and nose just peeking over the edge where I could get a good look at Roy and Dale. I had something on my mind I wanted to ask Roy.
When I spoke up, I felt brave and yet comfortable with my familiar heroes inches away.
"Hi, Roy. Where’s your horse?"
Roy turned and looked over his shoulder towards me, and answered kindly, eyes twinkling, "Oh, Trigger’s outside, Honey. They don’t let horses inside restaurants, though he’s a bit better behaved than most people I know."
I agreed. Trigger was a very well behaved horse.
"Hey, Roy," I said. "Here’s some sugar for Trigger. Can you give it to him later?"
I handed Roy six sugar cubes from a little glass dish on the table, their white crystals glowing against his gentle brown hands. He accepted them with a grin, saying, "Thanks, Honey, I’ll give them to him after his dinner." Then we smiled at each other. And I smiled some more as Dale flashed a big smile directly at me, and then Roy smiled at her and she smiled at him. We were a very happy bunch by now, smiles enough to go around. Then Roy added, "Bye now, Honey."
With a little tug from my mom, I turned back to our table, plopped down on the bench, and contentedly pictured Trigger nibbling on his special treat from me.
I felt good. My aunt had sung inside a seashell, there was an angel singing above me in plain sight, and Roy Rogers was going to give Trigger six sugar cubes as a gift from me. I liked Hollywood just fine.
And later, when I asked the angel to sing my favorite song, she did.
note: A year before Dale Evans Rogers died, she wrote a beautiful quote for me to use on the back cover of one of the books I had written. It valued make-believe and pretend for today’s busy children, a strong message from someone who understands. Such a treasure. Not the quote – Dale and Roy, and the values and fine role model they gave to us, the kids who grew up in the 50’s.