Gabby Hayes

During this weekend – February 25 and 26 – I watched two Roy Rogers movies on YouTube. They both were released during my birth year 1937. I saw them when my mother and I lived in Southern California during 1945 and 1949.

I had a job back then. Being the last one to leave the house, I washed breakfast dishes and put them in the cupboard every morning before leaving for school. The pay was twenty-five cents per week. That wasn’t a lot of money, so I spent it carefully. That allowance bought a pair of trousers, a week’s ration of Double Bubble Chewing Gum, and financed the ten-cent admission fee to the Early Bird movie each Saturday morning – Gene Autry, Tom Mix, Lone Ranger, Red Ryder, and others.

Sometimes the theaters provided perks. About once each month a Wonder Bread wrapper paid my way in. One Saturday morning before the movie a cartoonist illustrated,with an overhead projector, how to draw cartoon faces using number zero through nine. Another time a Duncan YoYo representative demonstrated all the special things that could be done with a YoYo.

We always exited the theater from the balcony and followed a concrete ramp to the street level. It was on this ramp that I heard and then saw my first shoe taps. And then I had one more item to fit into my budget.

Back to the movies:

Nobody but the sheriff and saloon keeper seemed to have jobs. Everyone else was free to play poker or serve on a posse at a moment’s notice. And the poor horses, always tied out front covered every inch of those dusty trails a full gallop.

George “Gabby” Hayes was often Roger’s’ sidekick. I seem to recall he was much younger than the part he played, but like Chester on Gunsmoke, he was a dead eye with a pistol and very capable of manhandling someone half his age. Seventy years later I saw good clean humor in his character.

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