Friday, December 09, 2005


(Originally run 7/30/04 on our old site)

Draxie Jean Horn Rogers

What wonderful memories you all have brought up!! Things I remember from the Rialto are so numerous.

First, I thought the neon lights outside must be exactly what Broadway in New York looked like! Saturday afternoon "cowboy shows" and the serials! Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Smiley Burnett, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, Charles Starrett (what was his "cowboy" name??) (The Durango Kid. –tlp-) and Tim Holt. I remember Tim Holt making a personal appearance at the Rialto and signing autographs. As I waited in line anxiously, I remember smelling something that was not familiar to me -- sorta like cough medicine. He would have the autograph-seeker turn around and he would use his or her back as a prop for signing his autograph on a piece of paper that was totally wilted from the long wait in line. I don't remember when I realized Tim was obviously pretty drunk during the signing. Kinda disappointed me and I changed my allegiance to Hopalong Cassidy. Do I remember correctly that the real Hopalong Cassidy, William Boyd, maybe made a personal appearance at the Rialto too????

In 1971, after having lost our 2-year old son to a fall, I saw Dale Evans on a TV talk show. She was talking about books she had written dealing with the loss of a child. She and Roy Rogers has lost 3 -- his adult son to an automobile accident in Europe while he was in the Army; a 14-year old adopted daughter, who was the only fatality in a school bus accident; and an 18-month old Downs Syndrome child who was the only child of her union with Roy Rogers. The book about the last child was "Angel Unaware." I didn't catch the title, so I wrote to the TV show to ask the name, since I was grasping at straws trying to make sure I COULD survive the loss of our son. I totally forgot about writing.

A month and a half later, in October, I received a phone call at home from Dale Evans. They had forwarded my letter to her. She was unbelievably compassionate and encouraging. She and Roy Rogers were appearing at the Arkansas Rodeo and State Fair. She asked me to bring my husband, Robert, and our surviving son, Kyle, and she would leave backstage passes for us. Needless to say, we accepted. When we met them backstage, she was like a ball of fire. She assured me we would make it past the loss and that some good would come from it. We had Kyle's picture made with her. We met Roy and he was even better looking in person, but "shy" didn't even come NEAR describing him. He was really nice, though, and I so appreciated getting to meet two of my Saturday afternoon idols.

I didn't know it at the time, but shortly thereafter found out I was pregnant with our daughter, Kalen. I wrote to Dale and let her know we had a baby on the way and she again was so gracious and happy for us. Kalen is now an operating room nurse on the Heart Team at Arkansas Children's Hospital and is instrumental just about every day in saving the life of a newborn baby or an older child who could not survive without the care the Heart Team gives them. So Dale Evans was right -- some good DID come out of our loss.

As for the serials -- "Rocket Man" totally held my attention for awhile. Looking back at that costume, with the bullet-shaped tin head, I can't believe I took that seriously. After Rocket Man came "The Black Whip". I loved that one, especially after the replacement for the original Black Whip was a girl!! I don't remember who played the role. All I knew was that I had decided that rather than becoming a school teacher, nurse or X-ray technician (my original inspirations), I could be much more effective as The Black Whip. Luckily that didn't last long -- and NO, I didn't get into whips, chains and dog collars! I just wanted to be able to crack a whip. Years later my brother, Johnny, got an authentic leather whip. I tried learning to crack it like they did in the movies, only to come out of it with numerous red welts and a black eye. It's truly like they say -- it's all fun and games until someone gets an eye put out!

"Creature From the Black Lagoon" scared me to death, possibly because Pat Sutherlin and I had to walk home after seeing it. It had been raining and I felt sure that any one of the water puddles I stepped in had the possibility of leading to an underground lake and that the Creature would, without a doubt, grab me by the ankle and pull me under. "The Thing" was the scariest movie I ever saw there, and even years later when I saw it on TV it was STILL scary. The most memorable scene -- when they were tracking the Thing into the greenhouse; they opened a box and I believe it was a dead dog that rolled out. I'm not sure it was a dog because I lost consciousness for the moment my heart stopped! Another memorable one was "Them" -- about radioactive giant ants. I went with Eugene Hite, who was pretty shy, but that didn't keep me from clinging to his arm and even his shoulder in the really scary scenes. (Gene was really a nice guy who didn't live nearly long enough.)

Susie, Powell Dairy DOES ring a bell with me. The next time my 90-year old mom, Bernice Horn, is totally with the program, I'll ask her about it. She can really remember things like that. She may not remember whether or not she's had breakfast, but she will remember who lived on West Academy, 2 blocks down from the dead end.

Has anyone ever heard anything from or about John Alex McCoy? Best I can remember is that he left for California shortly after getting out of SHS.

Maintenance of this site is a real service and I appreciate you, Tom, and Ernest and Danny. You remind me how fortunate we were to have grown up in such wonderful, innocent times, when Andy Griffith and Dr. Kildare were as gory as TV got, and the worst thing to happen in the neighborhood was for a commode to be left on the courthouse square during Halloween! We were lucky.

(And this was such a marvelous piece, Draxie, that I shall reserve any-and-all comments about the subjects you raise for another time. This needs no embellishment from the likes of me. Thanx, Drax).


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