Memories of Winnemucca, 66 years later
Monday, December 30, 2013 4:00 PM
LINDEN, Texas - Time whizzes by like young 'uns do not realize when you get old as dirt like I am.
At least that's what I have been told a few times lately. Hey, it's only been a little while since Stanley Monroe and I were sitting in the same row of seats in that little two-room schoolhouse in Imlay, Nevada, capital of the world. (At least we felt like that at the time.)
From Imlay we moved (my mom, sister Sylvia and yours truly) to Lovelock, then Tungsten mine, then Winnemucca.
Here is a little story about one day, one hour actually, that is stamped in my aging mind that happened in Winnemucca about 66 years ago.
Every kid in America knew about, and some of us idolized, Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger. During that time frame, and years before, Saturday afternoons were just not complete without seeing a Roy Rogers serial. He was about the most popular person on planet earth for most of America's kids.
In Winnemucca, we lived in a little house across and on the west side of the Grammar School. When I walked to the downtown area, I always walked through the Sonoma Inn. Go through the back entrance, walk past the hotel desk clerk, down a long wide hallway lined with slots, past the restaurant, and onto the sidewalk, which was old Highway 40.
U.S. Highway 40 ran from ocean to ocean, San Francisco to New Jersey. It was two lanes most of the way, including Nevada. Well, which ocean do I want to visit today, I would ask myself, when stepping onto the historic road.
When my buddies Gouge and War Bonds and Guts (I was Judge Roy Bean) walked through that long hallway with a hundred slot machines lining the walls, and no employees watching, we would pull every slot handle.
Occasionally there would be a coin in the slot not played, and we were enamored with the spin of the wheels. Click click click, sometimes two cherries would appear, and five coins would fall. Not much when it was a nickel machine, but a small fortune when it was a quarter machine. A coke and a movie for each of us, with change.
One Saturday morning, I was walking through the Sonoma Inn and was nearing the restaurant, when I noticed a commotion in the restaurant. Walking over to investigate, there in a booth sat Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and a couple of children. There was a small crowd of adults and children talking to them.
I couldn't believe my eyes. My hero, in full living color, just a few feet away. This was too good to be true. I had to share this with sister Sylvia, so I headed for the house in a dead run. Sylvia was not there. Mom said she had just left. So I put it in overdrive and headed back to the Sonoma.
Ran down that long hallway to the deserted restaurant. Not exactly deserted, but it was empty except for the employees and one couple. So I lit out for the parking lot full steam. The crowd was present, and my hero was pulling out of the parking lot in a Pontiac station wagon, pulling a horse trailer. All I got to see was Trigger's rearend as they hit the highway. Drats.
Many years later, when Roy Rogers' Museum was in Victorville Kaliforney, I visited there three or four times. But never saw my hero. Saw Dale Evans once, but not Roy. Saw Trigger, but he was mounted on a pedestal.
Time flies when you are having fun. Even so, seeing them for just that few minutes was a dream come true. I'm satisfied with that. Most of you, probably none of you, ever saw Roy Rogers in person, and just a few feet away. If you did, please share with me/us.
You know, there is a great difference between Love and War. One has conflicts and battles and wounded warriors. Then there is War.
Roy Bale can be reached via email at email@example.com.