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Git Home!



Gene and Roy never lost their hats, sang to their horses, and always played fair.

© 1998 by Tim Findley.

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Roy is gone, and now, Gene too. I guess it will have to await some divine revelation before one of the greatest controversies of my childhood is resolved.
     Personally, I was always a Gene guy. Autry only carried one six-shooter in a sort of plain holster. It had an ordinary grip that was darkly colored, probably just wood. Champion was obviously as smart or smarter than any horse that ever lived, but he was just a kind of plain roan color too. Those two silver guns aside the bit of his bridle were about the only exaggerated decoration I ever noticed. Gene and Champion worked the West more like proletariat heroes, ordinary folk who only did what they had to do in defense of women, children, and generally good people. Just one plain old six-shooter had Gene, and I always figured that was good enough for me.
     Rogers, on the other hand, always rode with those two chrome-plated revolvers in a two-gun holster belt that looked like it was designed for a side show. I know. I tried strapping on that double-draw set a bunch of times. It always made my pants start to fall down when I ran and one bone-handled gun was always falling out when I tried to straddle the tree trunk that was my loyal pony. Roy wore trousers with creases in them, and tucked his pants legs neatly into tooled leather boots. Poor Trigger had to put up with even more in all that silver saddle and fancy rolled blanket meant to compliment his palomino glamour.
     Me, I always thought "Champ" and I were better off with just one gun and the good sense not to make things heavier for the horse.
     Winning the West in those days wasn't always so easy, though. Some of the other guys who thought Roy had the right idea were always telling me I was out of bullets before the shoot-out really got going. They regarded me as a pretty plain cowboy in my old tan Stetson, not nearly as heroic as their carefully-shaped white 10 galloners with the Colorado peak.
     When we fought the bad guys, I always tried to keep in mind the way Gene preferred a good upper cut to settle the issue. Roy liked a right cross, but seldom used it. Neither one of them, of course, ever fought with their feet, although I did see Gene once push a guy off with a two-booted shove in the chest. It was only because the evildoer had pulled a knife. Most times for both Gene and Roy it would have to come down to shooting it out, after the other guy drew first. Even then, they were both such good shots that they could usually knock the pistol out of the bad guy's hand before he cocked the hammer. It seemed to me that Roy was always showing off by blazing along after them on Trigger, with both hands full of smoking guns. Champion was more reasonable about it. I figured he always knew that somebody had to steer with at least one hand.
     So I wasn't really a big fan of Roy. Truth is, that part of that was his having Dale and Buttercup around all the time where they might get in trouble. I even knew that it wasn't his real name. The singing parts were always something I just scrunched down in the seat and endured with both of them. I supposed that those parts were just something to make our mothers feel better. Although he didn't sing, I didn't really much go for "Hoppy" either. He always wore that black suit which made him all the more obvious on pure white Topper, and, like Roy, he carried two fancy pearl-handled six-shooters. I know from experience that it just gets too darn hot to run around in black all the time in the summer when most bad guys are doing the wrong thing. Anyway, he sort of looked too old to be really bringing law to the West.
     I could forgive the Lone Ranger for his two-gun style. After all, he had to make up for the whole Butch Cassidy gang that killed his brother. But I always rather more admired that pinto, Scout, that Tonto rode than Idid the sort of tiresome stallion antics of the Ranger's Silver. They sold those eye masks to a lot of us, but I never knew anybody who wasn't recognized right off when he wore one.
     Nope, when it came right down to it, I was a Gene guy. One gun and a good horse that didn't try to steal the show. Just a straight-out working class hero who never tried to take credit for it.
     My own son grew up without knowing any of this. The truth is that he thinks John Wayne was the only cowboy to ever make good as an actor. He never saw an episode of "Cheyenne," or knew the catchy tune from "Bronco Lane." Wyatt Earp he knows about from "Tombstone" and Kim Delaney, but the "Buntline Special" is a bit of trivia he has no need to recall. Horses in movies don't have names. Westerns in his mind bring to memory Clint Eastwood. I tell him that most of those things were made in Italy and that even the rifles look like some silly grapevine imitation, but, since he was five, he has been able to play the theme from "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" on a flute recorder. Ooowie-Ooowie-Ouuu. Nothing at all like "Happy Trails," or "Back in the Saddle Again." To him, Western heroes were bushwackers and, as likely as not, back-shooters. Gene and Roy would rather die first.
     Well, that's it, isn't it? I've long outlived my childhood. Heroes don't come anymore with just one six-shooter and a good horse. Everybody, even the girls, fights with their feet now. And nobody ever runs out of bullets, at least not until there is a good body count.
     It was sort of true to the code that Roy and Gene both went on this past year without saying much more about it. I guess I shouldn't either. It doesn't really matter to me much how rich both of them got later or what they finally ended up owning. After about the age of 11, I couldn't see them anymore anyway. They were just always something fundamental in how I decided about my own life. I wish I were winding up with as much money in the bank and properties to pass on, but I don't really think that's what it comes down to. I remember them as I remember myself, and, when I think about it, I'm not too disappointed. I was a Gene guy.


Git Home!

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