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Living With Roy Rogers - Lessons Learned

royrogers_400 

By Jerry Stewart 

When I was aged 25 and was attending graduate school, I started a small accounting business. One of my clients was a man who produced television commercials, and one day he came to me and he told me that he was planning to produce a full-length Hollywood movie. I listened intently, but I had my doubts. Sure, a major motion picture - but it really happened! He did have the influence, and the experience, and the financial backing to actually put the project together. And he wanted me to come along on location to be the movie’s accountant. I couldn't believe it. But this is where the story only begins.

 

The star of the movie was an older fellow, in his mid-60s. And just who was this movie star? Cowboy legend Roy Rogers - King of the Cowboys! Somebody we had watched on TV and movies most all of our lives. It was an unbelievable opportunity and I honestly could not believe it.

For seven weeks I lived in a little motel in Dickens, Texas with Roy Rogers living next door. I had meals with him, drives and talks and discussions. I got to see first hand just what kind of a man he really was, and he didn't tarnish his image one bit. Roy Rogers, the Cowboy Star, was Roy Rogers the person. He was kind and considerate, very down to earth, not full of himself and his fame. And he lived his own Roy Rogers Rider’s Rules that he had taught us kids while watching his shows. And 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 these rules.

 

Well that seven weeks for me was one of the most memorable times of my lives. 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. There were times when Roy would have to walk to the phone booth by the highway 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.

   

But there was one story, one incident that we were part of that has always stuck in our minds. If you saw any of Roy's movies you’ll remember that he never took off his shirt. You would never see any pictures of Roy where he was not completely dressed. And although he was a very handsome man with an athletic body, he believed in modesty. Wow, that's a value seriously lacking in America today, but something he felt very strongly about.

 

Well, one hot Texas day when we all had some time off, we sat outside in that little motel parking lot, a hundred miles from nowhere. We all had our lawn chairs, just sitting and talking and soaking up that hot Texas sun, and out came Roy, wearing his bathing suit and a shirt. He came out, sat down in one of those lawn chairs, and took off his shirt to get some sun. Well, it had only been 3 - 4 minutes until a guy came riding up on a motorcycle. Without a word, he got off his motorcycle and pulled out a camera to take Roy's picture, and Roy asked him nicely not to take his picture. He told the guy to come back in 30 minutes or so after he’d gotten some sun and the fan could take all the pictures that he wanted. But the man rudely kept approaching, snapping pictures, until, finally, Roy had to get up out of his chair, put on his shirt, and he walked back inside his room. He just didn't want to have his picture taken of himself by a fan or anyone when he was not fully dressed.

 

Yes, Roy Rogers had principles that he lived by - one of these was modesty. But where has modesty gone today? We have just left the high moral value of modesty behind, and, as a nation, we are paying for it. And one last word of dedication to Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys –

Roy, thanks for your wonderful testimony

 And thanks for lessons learned.