DALE'S STORY….in Roy's movies….Roy's wife dies….Dale's marriage to Roy
I liked Roy Rogers. It was hard not to like the guy. On the movie set, he was as comfortable as an old shoe to be around. His star was up there when we were teamed together. Another actor in his place might have let success go to his head. Roy was a different sort of man. There wasn't anything phony about him; there was no hungry ego and he had nothing to prove. He had a job to do and he did it, sitting easy in the saddle; and what's more, he enjoyed doing the work so much that his attitude was contagious. He reminded me of home, of Texas when I was young: a breath of clean country air, a boy next door. In short order we made twenty pictures together.
In those days, when you made a Western you made it fast and you worked long hours: up at 4:30 in the morning, home after sunset. So we were close, and I do mean close. Roy and I and Gabby Hayes and Pat Brady and the Sons of the Pioneers spent nearly all our waking hours together, week after week, in the studio and on location. With that kind of hectic schedule, there was no way any one of us could put on a false front; we saw the best and worst in one another, in and out of makeup, when we were grumpy, upset, or dog-tired. We became like a family. Roy was the acknowledged head of the family, and I felt as snug around him as I did with my own kin.
My father, back in Texas, got nervous when he saw I was being teamed with Roy on a regular basis. He wanted to know what kind of man this Hollywood movie star was. I wrote him a letter in which I told him that Roy made me think of my brother Hillman. "No matter what comes up," I wrote, "he seems forever to be on the side of the underdog." I assured him, "You don't have to worry. He's a fine person and a good friend. I guess the best way to describe Roy Rogers is that he rings true."
Good old Gabby Hayes became a dear, dear friend, too. He was such a gentleman, nothing like his screen image as a cantankerous old coot. A former Shakespearean actor, he drove a stylish black Continental convertible, wore fine English tweeds, smoked a pipe, and spoke eloquently when he wasn't on camera with his teeth out of his mouth. He had so much experience on stage in serious plays that he was able to help me with the craft of acting more than I can measure. "Get your face in there," he'd always say if he saw someone upstaging me. Of course he was the scene-stealer to top them all.
"Blast you," I said one day after we had done some dialogue together in which he walked away with the scene. "You will chew up and swallow a scene with anybody. You know what I'm going to do one day?" I threatened. "I am going to raise my dress up to here." I hiked my hem above the knee to demonstrate how I would take people's attention away from his mugging.
"Jes' try it," he said, plunging full bore into his most curmudgeonly character, rubbing his hand against his whiskers with conspiratorial glee. "I'll do the dangdest take you've ever seen in your life!"
Of all the studios in Hollywood, Republic was a special place. It was a homey lot—not so big you got lost on it; there were lawns and flowers that were so pretty. After a while, you got to know nearly everybody there. It was a good place to work. Still, that old searing flame of ambition began to lick at my insides. Much as I enjoyed being with Roy and all the gang, it wasn't doing enough for my career to please me. In Westerns, it was always the handsome cowboy and his horse who got the spotlight, not his leading lady. I wasn't even second banana on posters and marquees. Trigger got that honor! Then came Gabby Hayes, and, finally, me. In fact, sometime later I wrote a song called "Don't Ever Fall in Love with a Cowboy (Because He'll Love His Horse the Best)," with a lyric in there that went "We're just as happy as can be/I love him and he loves me/And Trigger makes three." Of course, when we first started working together, falling in love was not an issue. It was work, good hard work. Now, when I think back on it, I believe it was the best way to get to know somebody—better than a date where you're all prettied up and overly polite and pretending to be more glamorous than you are; but at the time, as I said, I was unhappy. I craved a starring role in a sophisticated picture. I didn't want to be part of a team in a Western. And I sure didn't like being "teamed" with Roy Rogers or anybody else.
Mr. Yates, the head of the studio, turned a cold shoulder to my request for something else. He said that exhibitors liked Roy and me as a team; we sold tickets. If I wanted to avoid suspension (and the fines that went with it), I would stay in the saddle. Danny Winkler managed to get me a regular spot on Jimmy Durante's radio show singing and doing comedy bits for a while, but that wasn't sufficient. My ego had become a monster, demanding I think only of my career. I have always been an aggressive kind of person who needed to feel in control of things. What I didn't know then was that I was completely out of control; I was at the mercy of this crazy lust for success.
I did feel pangs of guilt about the way I had brought up Tom—about how little time I was able to devote to him. So I decided to make an effort to have some heart-to-heart talks with him when I came home from work. What I discovered amazed me; I saw a spiritual side of my son that had been missing in me for such a long time. Tom had become a fine Christian, thanks to my mother's influence; he was worried for me; he prayed for me. My boy prayed for me. When I realized this, I vowed on all that was high and holy that I would make up for the time that had been lost between us. I would be the kind of mother a fine, good boy like that deserved . . . just as soon as I made it to the top.
Every day when shooting was done, I went to the screening room to watch the rushes. I studied my gestures and expressions, I listened to the way I delivered each line. I figured out how to cheat in two-shots so the camera got my face in three-quarter angle rather than a flat profile. All the way home, I'd replay mistakes in my head, thinking of ways I could look better in front of the camera. At night, when I went to bed, my thoughts were of camera angles and lines of dialogue; and I sprang up each morning eager to prove myself on the set. I remember one time Roy and I were doing a two-shot, standing close to each other supposedly having an intimate conversation. I wanted my three-quarter view, so when they called "Roll 'em," I started talking to a tree about a hundred yards over Roy's left shoulder. In retaliation, he delivered his dialogue past my left ear.
"For the love of Mike," the director shouted, "who are you two talking to?"
"When she looks at me, I'll look at her," Roy said. It was a standoff, which ended when we both broke into a good laugh. For the retake, we looked into each other's eyes.
I still treasure the time I spent on the set during those early pictures listening to Roy talk about his family. He loved kids so much; he liked nothing better than sitting around talking about them. How I admired him for that! I think it was the first real spark between us. I had always wanted lots of kids myself, but of course I had been too busy with my career to do anything about it, too busy even to dote on my own boy. And too busy for my second marriage, which ended in divorce.
I told Roy I had a son, but the front office at Republic knew nothing about Tom; he had been a secret ever since that first screen test. One day Dorothy Blair from the publicity department came rushing onto the set, white as a ghost. She pushed me into a private corner somewhere and breathed out the words, "Do you have a son?" A columnist had called, reporting that the army induction center was saying that a recruit named Tom Fox claimed Dale Evans as his mother. My head spun, but to tell the truth, I was never so relieved! "Yes," I said. "Yes! Tom is my son." It felt so good to say it after all those years.
"Keep quiet," Dorothy snapped at me. "Keep quiet. We'll bury the story." And she glided off the set. After that, if ever anyone asked her about it, she told them that stories about Dale Evans's son were just crazy rumors. Tom went off to play in an army band and I went back to my deception, sadder but not a bit wiser. Later on, Louella Parsons finally broke the story to the public, revealing that Joan Bennett had had a child very early in life, too. And finally, when it was all out in the open, I was grateful to her for forcing me to be honest. I hated the lie.
And I was so proud of Tom. Roy and his wife, Arlene, had two children: Cheryl Darlene, whom they adopted at Hope Cottage in Dallas, and their natural daughter, Linda Lou. Linda was a lot like Roy—the quiet type, who let her sparkling eyes do the talking for her. Cheryl was older; she used to come around the movie set quite often, and enjoyed being photographed with her dad when the fan magazines came around. With her honey-colored hair and bright brown eyes, she was as pretty as Shirley Temple, and every bit as extroverted. She could talk the ears off a billy goat: a true Texas gal, like me! I often used to gaze at her and think wistfully, "She is so much like me, she could have been my child."
When Roy wasn't talking about his own children, he was talking about other kids. He especially worried about sick and handicapped ones, and spent a lot of time visiting them in hospitals and shelters.
There was magic in the air when Roy Rogers came to visit those kids; their eyes lit up with joy. And when that happened, Roy's eyes sparkled, too. There was no show about it; it was a picture of real love. Oh, how his heart ached for the sick ones, the lonely ones, the frail ones! As I watched the handsome cowboy climb down from the saddle and put his strong hands on the shoulders of a weak little boy or girl, I too fell under his magic spell. This guy was no Hollywood ham. This was a real man!
In 1946 I up and quit Republic Studios. Mr. Yates kept promising that he would put me in a musical comedy after I did just one more Roy Rogers Western, but the part I wanted always went to someone else. So when my contract came up for renewal, I walked out. I didn't think it was fair to be teamed with Roy—not for me, and not for him, either. He was way up there, after all; he didn't need me at all. At the time RKO was planning a lavish picture starring Eddie Cantor and Joan Davis, and they wanted me for the ingenue part. Ironically, it was called Show Business Out West, but it was no Saturday sagebrush serial. It had a sophisticated script: at last, my chance to break into real musical comedy! With regrets, I said good-bye to Roy and waited for production to begin at RKO. And waited. Show Business Out West never got off the ground. I was left high and dry. Oh, I felt sorry for myself.
Tragedy certainly has a way of putting life in perspective. Roy and his wife, Arlene, were expecting a third child. Roy was certain it was going to be a boy, and he was right. On October 28, 1946, Roy Rogers, Jr., was born. Eight days after the cesarean delivery, Arlene died of an embolism. Suddenly, my woes seemed mighty puny when I looked into Roy's face, stricken with grief over the death of his wife. He was alone with three babies to care for, and he was distraught. Arlene had always managed the house, and suddenly everything was his responsibility. He hired a series of nurses and housekeepers and companions to help with the kids, but none of them could alleviate the sense of loss he felt. It was hard for him in a material way, too. Roy was a top box-office star by this time, but his salary was pitifully low, and he was responsible for so much of his own publicity and wardrobe, even hiring people to answer the thousands of fan letters he got each week. All that plus the cost of all the help he needed at home became a real financial strain. So Roy had to keep working, almost constantly.
After that musical comedy of mine fizzled, Republic offered me a good contract and promised that if I came back I wouldn't make only Westerns. In The Trespasser, which was released in 1947, I got my first on-the-lips screen kiss from my costar, Doug Fowley. The kiss, a moment I had dreamt of since I was a little girl, turned out to be a big, fat nothing. No emotion at all, just a job. Reviewers thought the picture was a big, fat nothing, too, so I headed off on a singing tour in hopes the studio could find me something better. While performing at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City I looked out into the audience and spotted Art Rush and Roy Rogers, whom I hadn't seen in months. Old friends! How good it was to see them! After the show we sat together. Roy told me how his kids were doing. I told him Tom had enlisted in the army. We talked long into the night. The next evening Roy and I had dinner together alone. We began to remember some of the fun we had making Westerns. Roy relished our reminiscing, and as we talked, I saw him brighten with an idea. "Dale," he said, "those movies we did together were good. An awful lot of people liked us as a team. Come on back, won't you?"
"Thank you, Mr. Rogers, but no thank you!" I said, putting my hand on his to let him know it was nothing personal. After all, I had a serious acting career I was just beginning; cowboy movies were not part of the program. Roy didn't press the issue; but he turned his hand up and held mine. It was a friendly gesture.
My next picture was Slippy McGee. If such a thing is possible, it was a bigger stinkeroo than The Trespasser. As I licked my wounds, I remembered Roy's invitation. I went to Herb Yates and said, "Mr. Yates, I would like to ride the range again."
Once more, Roy and I were together most of our waking hours. The schedule was unbelievable: when we weren't making pictures, we were on personal-appearance tours that took us to rodeos, state fairs, auto races, and grand openings in a different town every night.
Often, at the end of a long day we had dinner together. It wasn't like a date, not at first. There was none of that tension or expectation. It was just two tired friends—people who work together—enjoying each other's company, sharing thoughts and feelings. In so many ways, we were opposites, at least in temperament. Roy is steady and dependable; I am hasty and impulsive. He is such a quiet fellow, and he has a way of taking life as it comes; no one has ever accused me of being shy or easygoing. But the differences between us were all to the good; we each had strengths that were good for the other one. When we were together, I felt balanced.
One time I asked Roy if he believed in Jesus Christ. I was shocked by his answer: "No." He said he didn't take his children to Sunday school and he didn't much go to church. "I've performed in too many children's hospitals," he said. "If there is a God, I cannot understand how an innocent child can be born with a bad heart or crippled legs. I cannot understand the meaning of all those faces I see in orphanages. How can God let it happen? If you can tell me why He lets children suffer, I'll go to church." He then told me about traveling evangelists who used to preach in the country church in Ohio when he was growing up. They would preach up a storm; townsfolk would mend their ways. But after the preacher moved on, all those saved souls went right back to where they had always been. "It doesn't make sense," he declared. I wanted to tell him otherwise, but I kept my mouth shut. I didn't have the ammunition—the faith—to counter his doubts.
We were King of the Cowboys and Queen of the West when we appeared in arenas, often as part of a rodeo.
The show began with the house lights going down to total darkness. They announced Roy Rogers and Trigger, and he came barreling out at full gallop. The spotlight followed him; he was wearing flamboyant rhinestones and fringe so even the kids in the top row could see him clearly. The effect was like a bolt of fast-moving lightning. He'd rear Trigger up a few times, waving to the crowd, then introduce me. I came galloping out at top speed in my rhinestone outfit—something that complemented Roy's, but in a feminine way—and we began the show on horseback, singing a duet of "The Star Spangled Banner."
Some of the rodeo cowboys resented Roy and me. All those glittery clothes didn't sit right with them; they used to make fun of the way I wore my hat—tilted back, so my face wasn't lost in shadows. And I guess they might have been a little jealous of the crowd's reaction when we rode out.
There was one time at Madison Square Garden—this was back when that was the premier rodeo in the country—when some old boy decided he would embarrass us. Roy galloped out, reared Trigger, then introduced me. The big drum roll sounded. My horse, naturally, was on edge, waiting to burst into a run. The time came and I spurred him in the flanks; and just as I was clearing the chute, one of the rodeo cowboys stuck his foot in our path. The horse shied to one side, smashing my leg onto the cement of the chute, and he careened into the arena out of control. I hunkered down and stayed on him—I am talking about a deep seat—but my leg was skinned top to toe, and bleeding. The horse settled down and I remember feeling the blood trickle into my boot as we sang "The Star Spangled Banner." When our part of the show was over, Roy stormed back into the chutes, fists swinging, shouting words I never heard him say. "Where's that so-and-so chicken!" he called out. "I'm going to wring his neck!" We never found who did it, but after the way Roy reacted, let me tell you, whoever it was never tried it again.
Six months after Arlene died, Roy bought a ranch called Sky Haven. It was at the top of a mountain near Lake Hughes, in Lancaster, California. One bright Sunday morning, we drove there together—along a winding, unpaved mountain road that seemed to go up, up, up nearly to the clear blue. It wasn't anything grand—just a little house surrounded by flowering almond trees, alongside a smooth lake where ducks paddled around. I watched his daughters, Cheryl and Linda, greet him with big hugs; and I saw joy in the face of baby Dusty (Roy, Jr.) when his daddy bent down to hold him. The happiness they shared was so plain, I ached. And strangely— wonderfully—I felt completely at home. I was home.
In the fall of 1947, we were booked at the rodeo in Chicago. We were on our horses, in the chutes, waiting to be introduced, when Roy said, "Dale, what are you doing New Year's Eve?" New Year's Eve was still months away. I had no plans. Roy's face crinkled into that overpowering smile of his. His eyes sparkled. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box. Inside it was a gold ring set with a ruby. He reached down for my hand and slipped the ring on my finger. "Well, then," he said. "Why don't we get married?"
The drum roll sounded, the lights dimmed, Trigger reared up, and Roy Rogers galloped into the arena to the thunder of applause. I followed, on cue, and our horses took their position side by side in the spotlight in front of thousands of people. Before lifting the microphone to sing the National Anthem, I turned to look at Roy. He looked back at me, beaming with delight. The din of cheers made it impossible to speak. I formed the word "Yes" with my lips. He nodded, and we began to sing.
It wasn't easy, getting married. Sleet and snow and fire conspired against us. And at the last minute, I got cold feet. I was in the bedroom putting on my wedding dress—I wore powder blue, Roy's favorite color. Suddenly I felt all alone. What was I getting into? Roy had a family; marrying him meant I would become part of that family. I worried about his children. Would they accept me? Could I discipline them? I thought of what I had put Tom through. I didn't want Roy's children to suffer that. And I thought about my conspicuous lack of success as a wife, with two divorces to my name. I went into the closet and closed the door. I got down on my knees and I prayed to God. I said, "I promise You there will never, never, never be another divorce, under any circumstances." I promised, and I have never forgotten that promise. (Sometimes, I'll admit, I think of what Billy Graham's wife said when someone asked her if she ever considered divorce: "Divorce, never. Murder, maybe.") I asked God to help me raise Roy's children, because I knew I needed His help. I heard no bells and saw no heavenly lights, but I did feel a deep, reassuring calm well up in my heart. At that moment on my knees in the closet, I was close to something that had been missing from my life for such a long time. When I stepped out into the room again, I heard "Here Comes the Bride" begin. My time had come.
We had decided to be married in Oklahoma, in the den of Bill and Alice Likens's Flying L Ranch. Bill and Alice were old friends; we had spent time with them two years before while filming The Man from Oklahoma. The Flying L is a beautiful place, far from Hollywood. We figured it would protect us from the spectacle atmosphere bound to surround a ceremony in Los Angeles, and it was closer for my Texas relatives. The problem was that on New Year's Eve in Oklahoma, 1947, it snowed like crazy. Most of the guests managed to fight their way through, but Bill Alexander, the pastor of the First Christian Church of Oklahoma City and the man supposed to marry us, got stuck in the storm. The roads were closed, so to get to the ranch, he had to come by horseback. Two hours late, he blew through the front door dressed in frock coat and string tie; he had dressed for a real old-frontier wedding!
I walked down the aisle and waited for Roy and his best man, Art Rush. The guests waited. The pastor waited. Heads turned toward the door in anticipation. Minutes ticked by. Where was the groom? When I was nearly ready to give up hope and run out the door, Roy and Art came rushing into the room, smoothing down their clothes and trying to comb their hair with their fingers. They were out of breath and sweaty; Roy smelled like smoke. I looked daggers at him, and all he could do was roll his eyes heavenward. The ceremony proceeded, we were wed, and as soon as my husband kissed me, Art Rush burst out, "What a way to start a wedding!" They had been late, he explained, because just when they were about to come downstairs they smelled smoke. Someone had tossed a smoldering cigarette into a trash basket in a bedroom. The paper in the basket had caught fire, and the curtains above it were in flames. Roy and Art had run in, yanked down the curtains, and stomped out the flames. They then threw the smoldering curtains in the bathtub and started the water running. Satisfied the ranch wouldn't burn down, they ran downstairs and into the den for the ceremony as the tubs upstairs overflowed with water.
We stayed at the ranch that night, and in the morning Roy turned to me and said, "Honey, we've made a mistake."
"We made a mistake. We've been married a year already. It's 1948."
I pretended to pound his chest with my fist. He was counting the age of our marriage in horse years. No matter what day a horse is born, it always gets a year older on January 1. Roy Rogers would think of something like that.
The second night of our honeymoon, he had a suggestion of how we might spend our evening together: coon-hunting! Oh, brother! "For better or for worse" I had promised, so I agreed to join Roy and the other Oklahoma hunting men on a coon hunt. I never imagined I would spend my honeymoon tramping through the cold and dark, stumbling over rocks and tree stumps, and sloshing into mud holes trying to follow a pack of yelping hounds. We were "lucky," and the hounds managed to tree a pair of raccoons. What followed was the most sickening fight imaginable between them. When I saw it, my stomach turned, and I thought to myself, "What have I done?! I am no sportswoman. I should have married a college professor." Roy patiently explained that coons were actually very destructive creatures, and it was a fair fight, but I wasn't even interested in listening. I put my hands on my hips and lectured him and his friends about how cruel they were. They stared at me in slack-jawed disbelief. Roy took my arm and walked me away from the scene on the crime. "Maw," he said, "I'm afraid you'll never be a hunter." Amen to that!
Republic decided that our wedding meant the end of my career. The studio reasoned that the public would not be interested in seeing a married couple teamed together. Roy got a series of new leading ladies and I embarked upon a new job: mother to three youngsters. At the time, Cheryl was seven. Linda was four. Dusty was just fifteen months. I had my hands full.
Roy's daughters resented my stepping into their lives, as I feared they would. Cheryl was angry; Linda brooded; thankfully, Dusty was still too young to know about jealousy and resentment. Roy and I found a beautiful two-story Spanish home originally built by Noah Beery at the top of Vine Street; we filled it with furniture from his ranch at Lake Hughes and my house in North Hollywood. Early on, when I was arranging the couch and chairs in the living room, Linda Lou stepped up to me with a great frown on her face and declared, "This isn't yours. This is Mommy's." My instinct was to scold her; but I knew better. As gently as I knew how, I said, "Honey, your mommy has gone to heaven, where she doesn't need this furniture. Your daddy and I will have to use it now." Being their stepmother was no picnic in those early years. Roy was working long hours at the studio; I felt alone—frightened, on edge, at a loss for how to handle it.
My son Tom suggested that I might find the answer in church. To this day he denies it, but I believe that he and the minister conspired one Sunday night to reach me. Dr. Jack Mac Arthur's sermon topic this evening was "The House That Is Built on the Rock." He told the congregation that a home built on the rock of faith can take anything that comes against it and survive. I felt certain he was speaking directly to me, and when he finished his sermon and invited listeners to step forward and accept Christ, I yearned to go to that altar. But I did not. I fought the feeling. I was afraid of confessing my sins. "Why don't you go?" Tom said, seeing the conflict in my eyes. "Give Him your life and let Him give you the peace you've sought for so long."
"Tom, I am a Christian," I argued. "I've been since I was ten. Isn't that enough?"
My defense sounded hollow even as I spoke the words. I simply didn't have the courage to go down that aisle. "Give me until next Sunday," I said to Tom, stalling for time. "I need to think." My son's eyes filled with tears of pity for me. He turned away.
I went home and felt more alone than ever. Roy was away on a hunting trip. That night, I fell to my knees at the bed and cried as I had never cried in my life. As I cried, a dam broke; out poured a long, stammering confession. All the years of my life flooded past my eyes, and I shuddered at the sins I saw. I had let so much slip away; I had been so blind to all the things that really mattered; I had wanted to use Christ only as an ace up my sleeve against the possibility of future punishment and damnation. "Forgive me, Lord God!" I cried. "Let me live until next Sunday, and I will go down that aisle."
I did live, and when the time came, I fairly bounced from my pew so I could come clean with God. I didn't shout out all my life's misdeeds. I simply remembered them before Him. I asked Him to come into my heart, to take my life and use it for His glory. As I got up from my knees that day, I felt as though a crushing burden had been lifted from my back and shoulders. When I left church, the sky was brighter blue than it had ever been; flowers were bursting with colors I had never seen. Every tree along the road home sang to me; branches waved with glee; I was ecstatic.
Roy was home when I got there and I bubbled over with my newfound joy, telling him I had just made the greatest decision of my life. "I'm glad for you, Mama, if it makes you happy," he said. "But be careful, won't you? Don't go overboard."
I promised I wouldn't pressure him to make the same decision I had made. Nevertheless, I had changed. And the Christian life I was leading turned out to be contagious. I never pushed him, but example is always better than nagging; and Roy could see how much happier I was.
One Saturday night we had a huge fight, one of the biggest in our marriage. It happened during a party in our den. There were a lot of show folk there, drinking and smoking, and it started to bother me. I was explaining to a friend that I wasn't much interested in whooping it up now that I had three small children to take care of. Roy overheard, and misunderstood; he thought I was complaining and passing judgment on the others in the room. I retreated to the bedroom in tears.
The next morning, neither of us spoke about the fight. But a strange thing happened: Roy announced he was going to church with me and the kids. During the sermon, I noticed his eyes were closed. I assumed he was sleeping—the party had finally broken up very, very late—and I got mad, thinking his trip to church was nothing but a gesture to appease me.
To my amazement, when the invitation was given at the end of the sermon, he opened his eyes, sat up straight, squeezed my hand, and said, "I'm going down there." It was his own decision, with no pressure from me, and I was never happier in my life.
That Palm Sunday, he and Cheryl were baptized together. The spiritual bond that connected Roy and me that day can never be broken.
It was a year of joy and goodness. My son Tom was married; I wept a bucket of tears at the sight of him and his bride, Barbara, standing side by side at Fountain Avenue Baptist Church. And in December, I learned I was pregnant.
When Roy and I were married two years before, my gynecologist had told me I would never again have a child unless I underwent extensive surgery. Besides, I had a boy in college; I was thirty-seven, which in those days was considered pretty near the upper limit for giving birth.
When the doctor called me to confirm that a baby was on the way, I laughed—long and loud—first in disbelief, then in joyous thanks for the miracle about to be visited on Roy and me.
MY PARENTS SENT ME TO A CHURCH OF ENGLAND SCHOOL AT AGE 6. I MOVED UP TO THE MAIN SCHOOL AT AGE 7. WE WERE GIVEN A BIBLE, AND OUR SCHOOL DAY STARTED WITH THE FIRST HALF HOUR, READING THE BIBLE WITH THE TEACHER. I WAS FROM A WALKING TOT FASCINATED BY NATURE ALL AROUND ME. WHEN THE TEACHER READ: "IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH….." MY CHILD'S MIND SAID, "OH, THAT'S IT, THERE IS A HEAVENLY BEING CALLED GOD, WHO MADE ALL THIS." I BELIEVED IN HIM FROM THAT DAY ON. I ATTENDED A LOCAL NEIGHBOR-HOOD CHURCH ON SUNDAYS. AS TIME WENT I LEARNED ALL ABOUT JESUS, THE SON OF GOD, THE SAVIOR. I MAY HAVE BEEN ABOUT 10 OR 11 WHEN IN MY HEART I ACCEPTED JESUS AS MY LORD AND SAVIOR. I GREW UP WATCHING THE MOVIES OF ROY AND DALE. AND WATCHING THE "ROY ROGERS SHOW" ON TV ONCE A WEEK. THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT CAME ACROSS TO ME FROM BOTH OF THEM THAT HAD ME SAYING TO MYSELF, "I BET THEY ARE CHRISTIANS" - WHEN I READ SOMEWHERE THEY WERE INDEED BOTH SERIOUS CHRISTIANS, WITH JESUS AS THEIR LORD AND SAVIOR, I WAS NOT AT ALL SURPRISED; AND OF COURSE I LOVED THEM EVEN MORE.