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Happy Trails

By Staff | Jul 20, 2010

Going once, going twice, sold for $266,000! If you’re wondering what American icon was just sold by Christie’s in New York, I will give you a hint; it has been dead and stuffed since 1965. Give up? It is Trigger, the wonder horse made famous by the proclaimed king of the cowboys, Roy Rogers.

Last week different pieces from Roy Rogers Museum were offered to the public at auction. Other items for sale along with Roy’s horse Trigger was his dog, Bullet; Buttercup, Dales Evans’ horse; and Trigger Jr., Trigger’s movie body double.Roy must have had a real love for the taxidermy industry. You have to wonder if when Roy showed up at a livestock sale if all the animals ran to the other side of the pasture.

This collection of stuffed animals along with other items that were part of Roy and Dale’s California museum was moved a few years back to a museum in Branson, Mo. Both museums are now closed and the once treasured items of one of the 1950s and 1960s most loved cowboy stars is being sold and scattered across America.

If you grew up in the days of Roy Rogers you may have had a lunch pail with Roy and Trigger’s picture on it. You may have owned a set of chrome pistols that you strapped to your sides and used to shoot it out with the nearest neighborhood bad guy. Often that bad guy was the red headed kid next door who also owned a Roy Rogers gun and white cowboy hat.

Roy’s golden horse and German Sheppard dog appeared with the singing cowboy in over 100 movies and TV shows during their long careers.Roy’s show moved from radio to TV in 1951 after nine years of being on the radio.

Roy’s movie sidekicks were Pat Brady, who drove a white Jeep they called Nellybelle in the TV series, and Gabby Hayes, a scruffy bearded lovable character actor was also part of the popular shows weekly make up of actors.

Each week Roy would bring to justice a new set of bad guys with the help of Dale, Pat, and Gabby. Trigger and Bullet also played an active role in the show’s weekly performance. And true to his fans, he and Dale would always reward their audience with a song after the bad guys were dispatched to jail. If I remember they were not much for shooting them down in a hail of gun fire and leaving them in a pool of blood alongside the dusty trail. Most often, they were brought to justice with a bit of fancy rope and lasso tricks.

Roy’s shows were for his audience’s pure entertainment and fun. You always knew he was going to get his man or woman at the end of the show. In those days, we accepted that good guys always win and the bad guys lose. A far reach from the world of entertainment we live in today.

In those days we were being told that red communists were hiding behind every fence post and tree. And in school, we were being taught that when the air raid siren sounds to duck and cover under our desk and we would survive an atomic blast along with our Roy Rogers lunch pail.

Those years were a strange mix of fear of war and the joy of Roy capturing the bad guys. Through it all we grew up to be perfectly normal people. Well, for the most part.We decided in the 1960s to find peace and tranquility with flower power in a time of war in south East Asia. And Roy decided to have that horse he loved so much stuffed and put on display.

It may have been a good thing Trigger went on to the big round in the sky before Roy. If I remember right, Trigger could take his hoof and count pretty well in the dusty earth. If he could have counted the money to be made if Roy were to go first and persevered holding his favorite guitar, well, who knows how rich Trigger the Wonder Horse could have become.

Just imagine Roy frozen in time, holding his guitar and the song Happy Trails playing endless as he collects dust. Sounds like a plot for a Steven King movie does it not?

It always seemed a little strange to me the fact that Roy had his beloved animals stuffed.Perhaps it was just a sign of the times. But those times have now passed and Trigger and his friends have become just a piece of movie memorabilia. I wonder if that’s what Roy intended. For my part, I believe Roy hoped that his beloved co-stars would live on through his actions for future generations to remember and enjoy. I hope those silver screen stars of my youth don’t end up in some dark dusty collection to be lost in time as I look Thru the Lens.