Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
It is now celebrated in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971. This helped ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays, though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19th in Texas; April 26th in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10th in South Carolina; and June 3rd (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.
Memphis, TN - The next issue of Lee's Traveller will be published next Monday, the 50th anniversary of the graduation of Lee's first graduating class, the Class of '64. If you have any special memories of graduation you wish to share with your classmates, then email them to me by next Friday, May 30th, so I will have time to work with them.
Please be sure to check out the Upcoming Events section at the top left of this page and click on Class of '64 50th Reunion to see the information and download the registration form for the event.
Also remember you are all invited to share this special moment with the Class of '64, just as we hope you will invite us to your own reunion should you elect to have your own 50th Reunion.
TV Westerns of the 50s and 60s
"The Roy Rogers Show"
Before we were even in elementary school, NBC introduced "The Roy Rogers Show" in December 1951. It ran for 100 episodes, ending in June 1957. The reason we are familiar with it is that CBS began showing reruns on Saturday mornings in 1961 and continued through 1964. Roy Rogers played a ranch owner. His real-life wife, Dale Evans, played the proprietor of The Eureka Cafe, located in Mineral City (state unknown, at least to this media historian). Pat Brady was both Roy's sidekick (mandatory in a TV Western) and Dale's cook. He drove a jeep named NellyBelle, who had an mind of her own, often speeding away driverless with Pat in hot pursuit on foot. Animal stars included Roy's Palomino stallion, Trigger, and his German Shepherd wonder dog, Bullet.
The theme song, "Happy Trails," was written by Dale Evans and sung by Dale and Roy as a duet when the final credits rolled. I feel certain that most of us can immediately summon both the tune and lyrics instantly from our rusting memory banks. Just for fun, give it a try.
Oddly enough, the series featured traditional cowboys and cowgirls riding horses and carrying six-shooters in a contemporary setting where they co-existed with automobiles, telephones and electric lighting. No attempt was made in the scripts to explain or justify this strange blend of 19th-century characters with 20th-century technology. But when we watched the show, we didn't care.
Around 1970, in the early days of "The Tonight Show", Johnny Carson's monologue one evening stated: "I have a sad announcement to make: Roy Roger's horse, Trigger, recently passed away. Roy had him stuffed and mounted on a pedestal, to stand up next to his dog Bullet, whom Roy also had stuffed and mounted...you know, if I were Dale Evans, I'd be getting a little worried."
TV Western trivia questions:
1) Everyone knows that Roy's horse was Trigger; what was the name of Dale Evan's horse?
2) Hollywood gave him the marketable name Roy Rogers; what was his real name?
3) As a singing cowboy, Roy was often backed up by a cowboy chorus; what was the name of the group? (hint: some popular songs were "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" and "Cool Water").