THIS HAS BEEN UPDATED AS THE SALE AT CHRISTIES IS JULY 14-15. CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE NEW POST.
Now, I have no idea why this fascinated me so… I saw it in this month’s issue of COWBOYS AND INDIANS magazine. First of all, I don’t think I ever knew that there was a Roy Rogers Museum in Branson, Missouri. So, of course, I wasn’t aware that it had closed due to lack luster attendance. But when i saw that all of their museum items were being auctioned to the highest bidder, including the stuffed Trigger, I kinda felt a pang.
Now, I did go to the Liberace auction after his death. I mean, how could you not? It was sad that he had died, but it was also sad that all his good stuff wasn’t there at the auction. Or, all the perceived “good stuff”. What did I know? Perhaps that was his good stuff. But, really, it looked picked over. Anyway, I had the same desire to go to this auction but for different reasons.
Do I sound like a vulture? Well, I hear you… but I feel totally different about the Roy Rogers Museum than I did about Liberace. I guess for me, Liberace was known for having a lot of gawdy stuff. Roy Roger’s stuff was history.
(I guess this is all sort of an insight into myself… I was not around during the Roy Rogers hayday and I only saw Liberace once when my Mom dragged me to his show in the SF area — great, by the way — but these types of Americana Icons mean something to me.)
First off, a little about the museum itself… It was in Branson. It had a theater called the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Happy Trails Theater and Attraction. In that theater, Roy Rogers Jr (Dusty) performed with his band twice a day. Ouch. That musta hurt when there were only a few folks there… Anyway, the museum housed all of their memorabilia and souvenirs. And, truth to tell, if this museum has closed in Branson, probably the best place for such a museum, either this is another sad case of our economy or as Hubby says, “no one under 50 knows who they are”. Is this true? Is such a cowboy icon just a faint tumbleweed now?
That got me thinking… actually, I know hardly anything about Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. I know that Trigger was stuffed. That is about it. Oh, and I know that he was famous for singing the song, HAPPY TRAILS. I also have a pair of earrings with his image. So, if I know about Roy Rogers, I figure that maybe I know about him because his image is kept alive through my knowledge of Cowboy Culture.
OK, I lost track again. So, in this museum are Roy Rogers and Dale Evans artifacts. But, why is the family selling them off? I figure the kids (6) would take what they wanted and sell the left overs. But, no one took Trigger. No one took the stuffed Buttermilk either (Dale’s horse). They even stuffed Bullet their dog. (Eech, someone was into taxidermy or else had a reverse commitment issue.) I have no idea what the kids did or why they are selling everything, but they are spinning it as now everyone has an opportunity to share in the nostalgia and keep the Dale Evans and Roy Rogers spirit alive. OK.
There has already been one auction. But, two more are happening. One is on June 26, during the Brian Lebel’s Old West Show and Auction in Denver. At this auction, you can bid on Roy’s personal gun collection and hunting gear, some of his famous clothing, his last motorcycle and his canary yellow 1964 Lincoln Continental convertible.
The next auction is the High Noon and Christie’s Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum Sale at Christie’s Manhatten location. This is where they are selling Trigger and his other stuffed friends. I’ve pictured several items that will be up for auction…
Then I noticed another ad in the same issue of the COWBOYS AND INDIANS magazine… it is for the Autry Museum. It seems that the Autry Museum wants to help preserve the Dale Evans Museum. Makes sense, eh? The more the merrier… But they are asking for your help. So, I think what is going on is that if you donate to the cause, they will purchase as much as they can that will work in their museum (kinda like our Bucket Fund). So, if you want to help preserve the memory of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans but you don’t want to spread the spirit yourselves, you can become a part of this group who is trying to buy up as much as they can to keep it on view for all. Here is the link or you can call 323-667-2000. However, I would call them if you are interested because I went to the site and there was no Roy Rogers info.
It is kinda sad to me that some things are left to die and then only afterward do people wish they had gone to see it…
OK, now for the obscure stuff I learned. There is a Roy Rogers – Dale Evans Sunset Chapel. That seems nice. But, as I read more, it appears that Dale was interested in her cemetery site before she died. I guess that happens. And she got into favor with a local mortuary person who is now selling pavers (granite that can be carved) which can emblazon your name around the Chapel. I found this disturbing because I wasn’t sure if the owner really had Dale’s best interest in mind. Not that it is my concern. But, I went to the website to see the “sunset chapel” setting and perhaps understand why it is dedicated to this famous couple, and instead found an Elvis Chapel type of thing… I mean, I wanted to hear about why she chose this spot and the fabulous view that Roy always loved or something to that effect. But, instead, I found out how I could purchase a paver and a recorded message from Dale which said nothing about herself. Hmmmmm. I’m just sayin’…
I also found out that you could have your own franchise to a Roy Rogers Restaurant. It isn’t healthy food but I doubt anyone was thinking that way when the franchise began.
Oh, and if you want to spend a night in a themed cabin decorated by the Roger’s family, you can! Yup, the Roy Rogers Bunkhouse and Cabin sits in Branson but is not part of the museum. I was a bit disappointed looking at the photos because to me, knowing about this huge auction and the closing of the museum, I thought perhaps more unique memorabilia would be in the bunkhouse. But, then I thought that perhaps some yayhoos would steal it anyway. So, I guess it is either better to pick up a momento yourself or support the Autry in trying to get theirs.
Happy Trails, Roy. I’m sad to see it all go but I’m just really, really glad that Dale didn’t decide to stuff you…
A reader asked about the Roy Rogers Museum in Apple Valley… This is what I found out:
San Bernardino County Sun features editor John Weeks reports that the Roy Rogers Museum, less than six years after it picked up and moved from its longtime Route 66 home in Victorville, Calif., has shut down in Branson, Mo., and all of its memorabilia will be auctioned in the coming weeks.
What a shame. Victorville, in San Bernardino County’s High Desert, was the right home for it. It was an authentic Western setting for a Western-themed museum. It was right on old Route 66, an appropriately nostalgic location for an exhibit hall devoted to nostalgia.
Most importantly, it’s where Rogers and Evans built it, near their own home in Apple Valley. That’s the community they chose for their retirement, after their long careers as stars of hundreds of TV and movie Westerns during the ’40s and ’50s. That’s the community where they lived, where they died, and where they are buried.