Second Time Around
I am a child from the close-in post-World War II generation. Trains, streetcars and feet were the transportation of choice, actually necessity. Radios, not TVs, gathered families ‘round most evenings.
Saturday mornings were “flick” time for lads and lasses up and down my street. On Saturdays we rode the streetcars to the two local cinemas to see cowboy and space films.
My favorites were always the cowboy flicks; my favorite cowboy was none other than Roy Rogers. His real name was Leonard Franklin Slye (1911-1998).
Reading the news a while back, I was shocked, but not surprised, to find that the personal items of Roy and his wife, Dale Evans, were to be auctioned off by Christie’s of New York. It had become too costly for their heirs to maintain the museum in Arkansas.
I quietly followed the news ticks, keeping my secret life hidden from others who already know I am an emotional old fool: getting sillier and older by the day. So this I learned…
Nebraska RFD-TV paid $300,000 for Roy’s horse, Trigger, and dog, Bullet, and planned to air old Rogers movies on Saturdays with the cowboy’s son, Roy Jr., as host. Well, what goes around comes around, eh?
As an adult, I found that Roy and Dale were people of deep Christian faith. Let’s check out his testimony:
“…Years ago, I introduced something entirely new and different into the show Dale and I were doing down in Texas. I didn’t even tell Dale ahead of time what I was going to do. I wasn’t hiding anything from her; it was just something I had to do by myself.
“I held up my hand at the end of one of my songs, to say something. I didn’t have a prepared speech; just thoughts I wanted to share. I said: ‘I’ve been getting a lot of mail from boys asking if I don’t think it’s pretty sissy for them to go to Sunday school. It isn’t sissy at all. Going to Sunday school is one of the best things any child can do.
“When your parents tell you to brush your teeth, they know that brushing your teeth now will help you to have good, strong teeth when you’re grown. When they tell you to eat your spinach and drink your orange juice, they’re trying to get your bodies ready to stay strong and healthy when you’re older. When they tell you to go to Sunday school, they’re trying to help you grow strong in spirit. What you learn in Sunday school will give you the strength you’ll need against difficulties and temptations of all kinds when you grow up. Go to Sunday school regularly and learn all you can about the Bible and Jesus—you’ll always be glad that you did.
“Dale told me later that when I first began to speak, she could hardly believe her ears. But she said she was glad I spoke up—and so was I. It was the blessing of God’s spirit that I could and I meant every word.
“Speaking up in a meeting wasn’t always easy for me. In fact, there were many years when I didn’t even go to [church] meetings at all and it was really through Dale that I came to know the true joy of religious feeling and of believing in Christ. Dale joined church shortly after our marriage and I couldn’t help but see how happy she was in discovering religion again and how much better things seemed to be in every way around our house.
“I had been brought up in a God-fearing home, but like an awful lot of youngsters, I sort of drifted away from church-going and even from thinking much about religion.
“Then, with Dale’s help, I started going to church again and it wasn’t long before the day came when I too accepted Christ as my personal Savior and joined church along with her.
“I was still a little tongue-tied about my religious feelings. It was months before I could even find my voice to join in the grace we say before each meal at our house. Still later, I realized that I could stand up and speak at our little Christian group meetings, aired them at Billy Graham’s revivals.
“Now, I’ve always had a real sense of obligation to children. The way I figure it, they gave me my boost in this business. Through the years, their devotion and friendship have been wonderful. So it was along about this time that I decided that if there was any way I could get back to them with a message on the importance of religion, in language they could understand, I ought to do it.
“Today I can say, along with Dale, we believe John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. We have both accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. We love him, try to follow him in our daily lives and are bringing our children up under his guidance. To us, Jesus Christ is truly ‘The light of the world.’”
Grandsons Porter and Nolan know that they are going to listen to Dale Evans and me sing several gospel standards while we drive about. It was on a gifted CD from Indian Creeker Tom Fowler.