“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Roy Rogers & Dale Evans

People who know me, know I am a cowboy wannabe! One of the ways that that is expressed is through watching old Roy Rogers & Dale Evans TV shows. I love Trigger and Bullet! I have always known that Dale Evans wrote "Angel Unaware" which I plan to comment on later in this blog about their daughter, Robin, who was born with down syndrome and lived a very brief life. Her life, however, had a tremendous impact on Roy and Dale, not the least of which was their growth in understanding of the things of the Lord. Both were very simple people in spite of their fame, but Dale was the writer, and perhaps the deeper thinker of the two. In the 1955 book, "God is the answer" a biography of their lives up to that point (Roy passed away in 1998 and Dale in 2001), Dale is quoted as saying the following.
"...don't let even yourself think for a minute that Roy and I believe we've found all the answers to anything. Sometimes it takes years to understand why God does certain things. And sometimes we never understand. And who can say? Maybe we aren't supposed to. But the important thing is not so much to find answers as to learn that there are answers. And it's that sure knowledge that gives us a goal, so to speak. Nobody can feel confident and secure when he's merely floundering. But to know there really is a God, and through Christ to live closely with Him, is to know that you're not traveling alone, that no matter what or where, He's always beside you. And in these travels when you get glimpses of His love and His power, you're spurred on to see more. Because when you see parts of anything, you can be sure that somewhere there's a whole. And to know that whole exists - that's what makes the difference." (p. 210)
At that point in their lives, Robin had been born to them, they refused to institutionalize her which was what was recommended at the time, she had lived for 2 years with them, and then had died just prior to her second birthday. Roy had also lost his first wife, the mother of 3 of his children. Robin was the only child Roy and Dale had together, although they had adopted children together. Knowing more about their later lives, we find that two others of their children also passed away. So this was a couple who were familiar with grief and suffering on a variety of levels, but their faith kept them strong.
Their heart for children with disabilities, remember this is the 1940-50's, was also evidenced when they adopted their son Sandy who was living in a home for "unadoptable children" in Kentucky. Roy met the little boy from the home greeting him with a "Howdy, pardner" followed by picking him up in his arms. It is hard to explain who Roy Rogers was to kids at the time. No such role models are available, it seems today. Roy tells how blessed he was that God probably received a million prayers every night from kids who saw him as their hero.  He also prayed one time at one of his shows before ten thousand people, "Oh, Father, please help me to be the kind of cowboy the kids think I am." Upon meeting the boy from the home for unadoptable children, he cornered Dale after sitting up most the the night talking about the boy. "Dale, God hates a coward" Roy said. "Yes," she said, "anybody can adopt a perfect child." Once again, remember we are talking about ideas and actions of two international celebrities (the London based Roy Rogers fan club alone had 50,000 members). The next day as they worked to make the adoption happen, the only snag was when the little boy, Sandy, wondered who would feed a weaker boy with meningitis if he weren't there.
They were also pivotal in the development of the National Association for Retarded Children in 1954. They developed the "Helping hand rider" program to encourage children to be patient and helpful to children with disabilities. Dale also assigned her author royalties from "Angel Unaware" which became a best seller to the association.
So praise God for the lives of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. It can be easy to judge people from the 40's-60's with 2015 eyes, but they were truly pioneers in both secular and Christian caring and understanding of persons with disabilities seen through the actual actions of their lives.

More about Roy and Dale forthcoming!

McNair

Miller-Davis, E. (1955). The answer is God: The inspiring personal story of Dale Evans & Roy Rogers. NY:NY, McGraw Hill.

1 comment:

Jordan Varey said...

Great testimony Jeff. You are so right that it is easy to judge. As a Prof in disability studies I wonder how you think academia encourages this judgmental attitude. The disability rights movement has made some huge gains in the political and policy arena. However, I get the sense that the "fight motive" can be so powerful that we risk getting caught up in defending the "right" without making a physical/costly commitment to loving others. It is easy to criticize service systems, governments, the uneducated, etc. The harder things may be simple. Roy and Dawn adopting their son was in some ways a simple thing but in others a much harder choice.

In the same way, it is easy to protest for rights. But rights without opportunity are meaningless. What my friends with intellectual disabilities need are friends, communities to belong too, a good home, etc. These things don't require a degree or an understanding of the acceptable lingo.