Last week my oldest son, Walker, sent me an email regarding a story from National Public Radio. He sent the story because as a kid I was addicted to westerns. Actually, I still can’t pass up an old black and white cowboy movie. On television the king of the cowboys was Roy Rogers. I remember that on one Christmas I received two Roy Rogers chuck wagon sets, one from my mother’s side of the family and one from my father’s side. I had a wagon train! I still have one of those chuck wagons. Wonder what it would fetch on ebay?
Well, back to the NPR story. On July 14 and 15 Christie’s Auction House in New York sold off Roy Roger’s memoribilia, including cowboy hats, boots, guitars, and even a 1964 convertible that was decorated with six-shooters as door handles. The highlight of the sale was Roy’s faithful horse and fellow performer, the ever-trusty Trigger. Trigger was just as much of a movie star as Roy. During World War II Trigger and Roy performed all over the country, raising millions in the sale of war bonds. When Trigger died, Roy was so sad that he hired a taxidermist to stuff the famous horse. Trigger, who died one day before his 31st birthday, in 1965, was on display for many years at the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Victorville, California. He was placed in his most famous rearing position, his front hooves high in the air.
Of course, the idea of stuffing your equine best friend is a little beyond my comprehension. I do have a colleague that possesses a family heirloom that has been passed from one generation to another. The heirloom is a stuffed otter. My friend usually decorates him with a Duke University t-shirt. One year, after Susan and I visited he and his wife in Florida we sent him a University of Michigan t-shirt for the otter to wear so that the poor animal wouldn’t be embarrassed during football season. As cute as that otter may have looked, I still couldn’t imagine him decorating the living room of the parsonage.
Trigger was sold for $265,000 to a RFD-TV station in Omaha, Nebraska. The station plans airing old Roy Rogers movies on Saturdays with Roy Rogers Jr. introducing each film with Trigger as a backdrop. Also sold were the handwritten lyrics and music to the song, “Happy Trails.” The silver jeep Nellybelle sold for $116,500. Overall the sale brought in $2.98 million. I doubt if my friend, Leigh, could get any money for his family otter, but then again, who knows?
There is probably not a stuffed horse or otter in our homes, but I would venture to say there are other monuments to our lives that take their place. They are a tribute to some memory, reminding us of what we have considered valuable. The questions for me are: (1) “What is really valuable in our lives?” and (2) “When we do find something that is truly valuable, what price are we willing to pay?”
Well, happy trails, to you, pardner, until we meet again.