I’ve been a little bummed out about losing the Roy Rogers Restaurant over in Union Township. Well, actually it is still there–with the same menu and ownership and memorabilia–but with a different name, Roney’s. Maybe the roast beef tastes the same, but I feel as though I would be disloyal to Roy and Dale if I ate there now.
That loyalty to Roy and Dale goes all the way back down the trail to my childhood. Every Saturday morning I would be in front of the TV, toy pistols loaded and holstered on my hips, ready to fastdraw on a split-second notice to help them fight the bad guy of the day. It was taking precious weekend outdoor time away from me, but somebody needed to have Roy’s back.
There has been some consolation since the restaurant changed names. Roy and Dale have returned–to my TV, that is. Happy Trails are here again on one of the retro stations. Society has changed quite a bit since I was packing back in my youth, but not my old heroes. For example, Dale hasn’t lost her pinpoint accuracy with her pistol. In a recent episode she shot a cigar out of Pat’s mouth from 20 or 30 feet away before he was able to light it up. Everyone laughed while Pat grumbled and made faces until the credits came up.
Though my heroes haven’t changed, that episode caused me some serious issues with their heroics. It wasn’t quite as funny to me as it used to be. In fact, some people would call it bullying. I was disillusioned. I love the old shows like this where everything is black and white (though it would be fun to see them in color). You don’t have to guess who the good guys are, and they usually do the right thing–something that seems harder and harder to discern nowadays. But was treating Pat like that right? Then I thought maybe Pat wasn’t really being bullied. Dale was just having a little fun paying him back for accidentally whacking Roy in the head with a hammer earlier in the show. He had been trying to help him out, but he hit the wrong guy.
Not long after I thought I’d settled the bullying concern in my mind, up popped another issue to try to wrap my brain around. How could Dale display such a lack of safe gun handling? I wouldn’t have been allowed to even aim my toy gun at someone’s cigar, let alone actually shoot it in their direction. But I reconciled this issue even more quickly than the bullying question: Dale never missed. There wasn’t the slightest chance of a bullet from Dale’s gun straying from its path and hitting anything other than its intended target. There was never a need to worry. Once more things were copacetic.
Or so I thought. After the theme song ended, there was still some discomfort lingering just off the once-happy trail. After other episodes, the music was always accompanied by positive vibes. This day, however, I had not been able to successfully rationalize all of the bullying and careless gunplay. Had I been wrong to hold Roy and Dale up as heroes all my life? Here I was, bummed again. And no Roy Rogers roast beef to comfort me. I went for a walk to deal with my doubts.
The fresh air and the stroll must have been what brought me back to my senses. I began to feel just a little tinge of shame for my faltering homage. Now I could see that Roy and Dale were actually ahead of their time. Maybe they had set a couple of bad examples, but for an invaluable cause. They had seen the danger of using tobacco. Of course! This was an anti-tobacco episode! They knew something needed to be done to steer our impressionable young cowboy minds away from the barrage of smoking ads back in the ’50s and ’60s. The thought of Dale shooting smokes out of our mouths might just get her point across.
Just like Roy Rogers Restaurant, Roy and Dale would never give me a bum steer. My loyalty is intact and I’m back on a happy trail. It might even lead me to Roney’s to check out that roast beef.