Sharing memories from our featured historical era — like playing cowgirl “Dale Evans” in the 1950s

By MARY WEAVER

RIPPEY, Iowa, June 25, 2021 – “Roy Rogers, King of the West” was a famous television show from 1951-1957. Though my family was not able to have a television until 1954 at our rural Rippey farmhouse, it was so very magical to watch Roy ride his horse “Trigger” every Saturday morning while I was in elementary school.

My cousin Bob and I played cowboy, with him being Roy and me being Roy’s wife Dale Evans. We had “pretend” horses, not even stick ones, but we could ride ’em fast in his apple orchard.  We had cap guns, and I can conjure the vivid odor of caps being exploded. Most times, they would not feed into the trigger mechanism of our little guns, and we just hammered those caps on the sidewalk.

Mary Weaver ProfileHis little brother Mike was 6 years younger, and he became “Pat” and drove his pretend jeep “Nellybelle” to get help and save the day. In the TV series, Nellybelle was cantankerous and sometimes on the show refused to start and Pat would beg and threaten her. When our older second cousin from up the road came to visit, younger Mike was relegated to being “Bullet,” the dog. I think he resents that to this day, as he sometimes mentions it at family gatherings.

I had many Roy and Dale articles, like a lunch box with a picture of Roy and Trigger on one side, and Dale riding “Buttermilk” on the other. I had a large towel with a picture of the entrance to their ranch and all the actors dressed in their cowboy outfits. I had a Western cut shirt without buttons, but rather with those snaps like cowboy shirts have. It had a yoke with piping that in my mind made me look just like Dale Evans.

When I went to the Denver Livestock Show on the train with my parents in 1956, I wore my cowboy shirt, and skirt and vest with white fringe, just like Dale’s.  I also wore my two pistols, but did not take any caps. When we toured the U.S. Mint there in Denver, the security guard asked me to give him my guns and they were placed in a locker during the tour!

Though I can not recall the specific plots of the shows, it seems the good guys always won. The bad guys went to jail, but there were no hangings, or deaths due to gun fights. Oftentimes, Bullet would grab the bad guy’s wrist, wrestling the gun away from the outlaw before someone was fatally injured.

During that time, Dale, who in real life was married to Roy, gave birth to Robin, a child with Down syndrome and a congenital heart condition. Dale wrote a book, “Angel Unaware” about that birth and the care of the child. I still treasure the story, and after all these years recently shared it with a mother who had given birth to a child with a congenital disability.

I enjoyed the end of the show, with Roy and Dale singing “Happy Trails” while riding Trigger and Buttermilk. I always sang along, but now I can only remember “Happy Trails, until we meet again”.

I had to research it online to find all the lyrics and was surprised about the line, “some days are blue.”  I didn’t recall those words, but I will share them with you.

Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.

It’s the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here’s a happy one for you.

Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.
Happy trails to you,
Keep smiling until then.

Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.

Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.

I had always thought I would request to have “Happy Trails” sung at my funeral, but the song and lyrics now seems diminished, since it is often played when a basketball player fouls out of the game.  I’ll have to ponder that thought some more, but the song’s lyrics are not really about fouling out of a game.

“Happy Trail” thoughts to you readers.

You can comment on this story in the space below here, or write directly to the columnist by email at mweaver235@gmail.com. The author, who still lives outside Rippey, is an active member of the Greene County Iowa Historical Society.

Comments

2 comments

  1. Thanks for the memories. Pat Brady and Nellybelle were my favorites. On a very fringe memory, when I taught at East Greene, Burt Toyne did the announcing at track meets and I was his trusty sidekick. At the end of the meet I would play a recording I had of “Happy Trails” as the athletes left the field. Happy Trails to you!

    Roger Aegerter, Jefferson IA

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