Today I have a couple stories about Trigger and a few about the Rogers family. The first demonstrates how naughty “Trigger” could be at times. Roy was at the Idaho State Fair and he went to mount Trigger (either Little Trigger or Trigger, Jr. I’m pretty sure it’s Little Trigger) and the palomino reared up for no apparent reason and flipped over backwards. Roy jumped clear just in time. Unfortunately for both of them, it had just rained and it was really muddy. Yuck!
Another time, Trigger helped them out of a tough spot. Roy and Dale toured the UK in 1945. At Liverpool, they both came down with the European Flu just before their scheduled performance. They were so sick that they could barely get out of bed. The crowd didn’t quite understand the situation and they began gathering in the street below Roy and Dale’s window. Somehow, someone was able to get Glenn Randall (Trigger’s trainer) to lead Little Trigger up to Roy and Dale’s room. they stuffed a bouquet of flowers in Trigger’s mouth and followed him up to the room. They quickly learned that Roy and Dale really were sick after the two answered the door. Before leaving, Trigger dropped the flowers and nickered his own genuine get-well. Later that day, Trigger gave an impromptu performance in the street for the dissatisfied crowd. The crowd finally left afterwards so that Roy and Dale could have some peace and quiet. Roy and Dale were able to do their show a few days later, although Dale wrote in Happy Trails: Our Life Story that she remembers holding onto the curtains to keep from falling over.
There is a funny story regarding the Rogers family on tour. Yes, Roy and Dale took their children along on tour whenever possible. My last Happy Trails post was about Dusty and Sandy. Well those two didn’t limit their pranks to the home range. Once they took along two pet rats on tour. They began having trouble getting the bird cage past the hotel desk clerks so they switched it out for a lass-conspicuous shoe box. On a flight from one stop to the next, the box started squealing. when the flight attendant came to check on the commotion, Dusty and Sandy began squealing to cover up. When the noise didn’t stop, they finally had to pull out their box. To the passengers’ “delight” the two rats had mated and now there was a whole family of rats on board.
On another flight, Sandy asked Dusty for a drink. So, Dusty took a balloon and filled it with water at the bathroom sink. He handed the foaming water balloon to his brother saying that it was soda. Sandy was fooled – momentarily! Roy marched Dusty back to the bathroom and washed his mouth out with soap. Of course, by the time the plane landed the boys were best friends again.
One of the side-effects of Sandy’s child abuse experience was that he often saw scary shapes in the shadows at night. Most of the time Dusty was able to calm his brother’s fears but once, while on tour, Dusty couldn’t get Sandy to settle down. Roy came, calmed his frightened son, and then went to put him back in bed. A moment later Sandy came rushing back out of the room yelling. This time he wasn’t dreaming! There was a bat in the boys room and Roy was going after it with a coat hanger. By the time the bat was disposed of, everyone on the floor was awake. No worries! Just another night with the travelling Rogers family.
On a episode of the Happy Trails Theater I watched recently, Dusty was the guest. They got to talking about how they would travel around on tour (including a little clip of Trigger arriving by boat at Hawaii). Dusty shared how Dale would give the kids each a list of clothes they need for the trip. The children were expected to pack their own clothes and then not touch the suitcases. As Dusty put it, “If any of us touched them, we were dead meat!”
The Happy Trails Theater was a TV show Roy and Dale hosted during their post-movie years. Roy and Dale would often have a guest – Ruth Terry, Pat Brady, Dusty, Gene Autry, and others – with whom they would discuss events around the time of that episode’s film. Roy and Dale had to use the cut versions of the films so they had time to talk, but the discussions with the guests, Roy, and Dale are well worth the sacrifice of watching the cut version. I personally like to have the Happy Trails Theater version of the films as well as the uncut ones. You can find the Happy Trails Theater sets and individual films in my Roy Rogers Store.