Heroes of old still resonate today

Baxter Black

There was a horse sold this summer down in Missouri. Probably the most famous horse in the world … Trigger.

RFD-TV paid a lot of money to own the mounted figure of this celebrity equine, Roy Rogers’ Paramount Palomino.

They also purchased his dog Bullet. They did it for the sentimental value, but also to recognize an era when kids had good heroes to look up to.

I like horses. I like pretty horses, but like most cowboys, I like good horses. Even the roughest, no-nonsense workin’ cowboy could look at Roy Rogers and say, “Well … he rode good horses.”

I am of the age that can remember when Roy Rogers was king of the Hollywood cowboys. To my misfortune, I thought at the time, we didn’t have a television and didn’t go to the movies. But we did have radio and through it, Roy and Dale, Pat Brady and Nellybelle, Gabby, Trigger, Buttercup and Bullet became part of my idiom.

Think about it. When you can still recognize somebody’s voice in speech or song that you became acquainted with in grade school, that’s a pretty deep impression.

RFD-TV buying Trigger and Bullet kinda makes me feel good. It means there’s still a place, outside of my mind, that I can go and be in the company of such fine animals. Animals and their keepers, who represented the kind of people we could aspire to be.

In my mind I can’t separate the animals from the humans. I can’t think of Roy without thinking ’bout Trigger.

It’s hard to explain to teens today that being a good person pays off. Instant technology and instant answers to almost any question can be found on the Internet. The one question the Internet can’t answer is “What’s the right thing to do?”

That’s what Roy taught us. He and Hoppy, Rex, Gene, Cisco, Lone, Sky, Bobby Benson and the B bar B Riders and their great sidekicks. In their simple parables they showed us the difference between good and bad, between right and wrong. They led us to believe that the Code of the West boils down to “doin’ the right thing.” That it was real, had value and was worth living and dying for.

I mentioned Roy’s voice. If he called me on the phone tonight I’d recognize him immediately. If he asked me what was goin’ on I’d tell him about the great honor that we have paid his horse and his dog. And that we still think about him, that kids are still watchin’ his old movies, because there’s still a market for heroes in our kids and grandkids. I’d also mention that many of us appreciate that in his private life he lived up to the image of his movie character. A decent man. That’s not a bad way to be remembered.