I feel like a piece of me died today. Seriously. I clicked this link and read it.
To my horror, I learned of not only the end of the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans museum, but that Roy's beloved Trigger... is for sale. For money. Someone can slap down some cash and haul away Trigger. Put him in their garage. Hang bras and panties off him. String him with lights for Christmas. It makes me want to vomit. God only knows what's become of Trigger, Jr. who was also ..ahem.... mounted. (Yes, taxidermy is gross, I get that. Pipe down. I'm bearing my heart, here.)
I know that what Roy and his ilk represented was mostly about consumerism. Lunchboxes, tv shows, comic books, bedsheets, shower curtains. All these were churned out by the Hollywood machine - no different than the cheap toy you can get in your Happy Meal today when Michael Bay cranks out some fodder for the waiting sheep that we are, lining up to buy it. I know that the image of a cowboy in a shiny shirt that always kept his hat on while racing after the bad guy is nowhere near the real down and dirty cowboys of the old west who lived short brutal lives, or long, plodding, boring ones, tending cattle on the range far from towns or banks to rob. The singing cowboy was a nostalgic view, an emersion in things done the old way, when times were simpler. And of course, who doesn’t love to watch that 8 team stage coach go roaring around a curving mountain road, beset on all sides by outlaws and being chased by guys in white hats?
How did this happen? How did the museum of an American Legend go under? Yes. I used capitals for that. I believe it to be true. And in Branson! Missouri! The home of good ol’ country lovin’, church goin’, flannel wearin’ America. Is the West dying out? Is the love and the passion America had for its past, so much so that we invented imaginary cowboys, Indians and outlaws to worship long after the real ones had gotten jobs in the suburbs gone? Dying? Dead? Has the gloss and shine of the Mall of America cast its pall over the last shreds of the old west? The western novel is almost dead. There have been rumbles of a revival. But if the excellent novel The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford didn’t bring it back, I don’t know if it ever can. And now Roy Roger’s museum is gone and the items are being tossed out to the ravening crowds to bid on. It makes me kinda sick. There ought to be some sort of clause. When you buy a piece of American History...even if it is only a representation of the way America wants to remember its history, you should have to promise to maintain its dignity. Especially if it is a stuffed horse. Hasn’t Trigger suffered enough?
I can’t help but wonder what Roy would say.