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Then he would slip out of his Roy Rogers pajamas and into his Roy Rogers shorts (with a likeness of Trigger on the front) before putting on his Roy Rogers jeans. “I had double R on both my boots, and I never did know which boot to put on my left foot.” A lot of kids had the same cowboy shirts and belts and badges and lunch boxes, but Dusty had something not included among the 125 licensed Roy Rogers products—an official Roy Rogers dad.
He even had the name: Roy Rogers Jr., although in an act of merciful diversity he has been known as Dusty since childhood. building contractor who lives in Apple Valley, Calif., a mile down the road from his legendary father.
Between adoptions and natural children, they eventually had a brood of nine kids. Mom was standing like a statue, with her stage pistol pointed to the ceiling….
In his book, Growing Up With Roy and Dale (Regal Books, .95), published last year, Dusty gives a gripping example of how Dale kept a firm hand on two unruly boys: “On Saturday afternoons, Dad would take Sandy [Dusty’s adopted brother] and me over to his gun range…. ‘I said,’ she whispered through clenched teeth, ‘it’s time to stop.’ ” Dale was not the only disciplinarian.
Roy married Dale, who had a son from her first marriage, a year later, and together they mingled the families.About five years ago there was still some unfinished business between Dusty and his father.“I used to wonder when I was a kid what in the world was so exciting about this guy,” says Dusty now.The small talk faded, and Dusty said, “What really worries me, Dad, is I’m afraid you’re gonna die and I won’t have a chance to tell you that I really love you. We got out of the truck, hugged and kissed each other and cried.Then we walked down onto a field, kicking rocks together, and we had a long good talk about all the stuff that bothered us through the years.” And there was peace in the valley.
And Deborah Rogers, who was adopted, was killed in a bus accident in 1964, at the age of 11.