Of all the stories that I tell, especially to older folks like me, this story truly comes to be the hardest to believe – but it is TRUE!
I worked and lived with Roy Rogers, “King of the Cowboys” for seven weeks on location at a movie set in West Texas.
It was truly one of the greatest times that I have ever had!
The Year was 1975 and I was going to Graduate School full time. I had just gotten my degree in accounting, so I thought to start a small accounting company to try and support myself and my family while going full time to school.
But because I spent so much of each day at school, I had a very hard time building my new company. So, I decided to do what some would consider a “below my level of education “ work;
I started knocking doors, selling the installation of peep holes (you know, those little scopes you put in your front door to see who’s at your door before you open it).
Yep, it was a real job, and I made money doing it.
Well, one day I knocked on a door to sell my “Peep Hole Install” idea to a family, and they said “yes”. As I worked, the owner got to know me, found out I was an accountant and, believe it or not, not long after, he hired me to handle the accounting work for his company that produced TV Commercials.
But you say, “Hold it; what does all this have to do with Roy Rogers?” Good question.
After a few months of working together, this new client, this TV Commercial producer, came to me and told me that he was going to produce a feature film – yeah, a full- length Hollywood Movie. It all sounded crazy, and the story was made even more crazy to think that he wanted me, an inexperienced accountant who he met while I installed a peep hole in his door, he wanted me to go on location for 7 weeks to handle all the money for the film.
Oh, and one more thing – the star of his movie was, believe it or not, my childhood hero – Mr. Roy Rogers, “King of the Cowboys”. Somebody I had watched on TV and movies most of my life. Could it all really be true? I found out soon enough.
It was shot during my summer school break in July of that year 1975. I drove to a little town about 60 miles from Lubbock, Texas, the town of Dickens; this town had a café, a gas station, and a little 10 room motel – and for 7 weeks I lived in the motel room next door to my cowboy hero, Roy Rogers. We had meals together, drives, talks, even singing.
I got to see first hand just what kind of a man he really was, and our time together for that 7 weeks didn’t tarnish his image one bit – in fact, it made him even greater in my eyes. He was kind and considerate, very down to earth, not full of himself and his fame. And he lived by his own Roy Rogers Rider’s Rules that he had taught us kids while watching his shows. If you’re old enough to remember Roy Rogers, you may remember these rules:
Be clean, be courteous and polite, and always obey your parents.
Protect the weak and help them, but never take chances.
Study hard and learn all you can; be kind to animals and take care of them.
Eat all your food and never waste any.
Love God and go to Sunday school regularly, and
Always respect our flag and our country.
And Roy Rogers lived by those rules.
That seven weeks with Roy Rogers was, for me, one of the most memorable times of my life. At times I would be at a restaurant with Roy, and fans would approach him for an autograph. They would look at me and assume I was somebody, and want my autograph too. The times Roy would have to walk to the phone booth by the highway just to make a call because he suspected that the motel switchboard operator might be listening in. Him standing at that booth, right by the road, as curious fans drove up and down that same road hoping to get a glimpse of their cowboy idol. One day, one fan almost fell out of his car taking a picture of Roy’s stand-in double, thinking it was Roy, while, at the same time, almost running over the real Roy Rogers – and he never even knew it.
Well, sadly, all good things must end, and soon the filming was over. I saw Roy and Dale one more time at the film’s Premier, but our paths never crossed again; but, wow, what a wonderful adventure experience.
Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans, are gone now; they’re with the Lord in Heaven. But their memory still lives on in my heart and millions of others who grew up with his “Riders Rules”.
Thanks, Roy, for your talk, and your walk. Happy Trails – see you both in Heaven.