Gene Autry Champion
Cisco Kid Diablo
Hopalong Cassidy Topper
Lone Ranger Silver
Dale Evan Buttermilk
Roy Rogers Trigger
One of the really sad things about that list is that I know this all by heart. No need to look it up on the interweb. It’s probably not on there any way since these were all before the interweb was created by Al Gore.
I grew up in a time when cowboys and westerns were king of TV. No one had heard of reality shows and all was right in the world. I also grew up in a time when Roy Rogers was coming to the CNE at the end of August and we were going to get to go see him.
1954 was a wonderful year and not only were we going to get to see Roy but the most amazing thing in the entire world was that he had Trigger with him. Having seen him in countless shows I just knew they had probably ridden all the way up to Toronto just to be at the show. That is what they and a lot of the other Heroes did each week. Travel around looking for people to save, or adventures to have, and this week he was coming, with his horse to the CNE.
For those unfamiliar with the magnificence of this I point out that Trigger was a palomino. These are known far and wide to be the fastest, smartest, nicest horses, ever known to man. To say I was looking forward to this was a tiny bit of an understatement. Years later I found out trigger was also a Tennessee Walking horse, as was Champion, altogether a pretty neato breed of horse, but I digress.
As we got up that Saturday morning the whole family was in a stir getting ready for the trip all the way around the end of the lake to Toronto and our day at the EX. My parents, not exactly fools had used the threat of trip cancellation to effect remarkably good behavior from us 3 children. There was no need to make my kid brother behave, he wasn’t even born yet so the day started as it should with quick trips to the bathroom to get washed up and then in to breakfast.
It may also come as a surprise to many that we always had weekend breakfast and actually most meals at the table in the kitchen and together as a family. Getting out before eating breakfast was not a possibility. Had we been on the Titanic and it going down mum would have insisted on breakfast before getting us into the lifeboats. During the week dad had his meal just with mum because he left for work at a bout 6:30 but then we kids would have ours supervised by mum who would have her second cup of coffee while we ate and then were packed off to school or whatever.
Our breakfasts during the week were usually cereal milk and sugar cause lord knows Frosted flakes weren’t sweet enough and toast with butter and marmalade. The toaster sat right on the kitchen table plugged into the wall plug behind the table. Weekend fare often consisted of pancakes, bacon and eggs and fried lima beans. Sometimes exotic stuff like blood pudding or sausages. All breakfasts included fruit juice and the parents all ways had coffee. Sometimes we were allowed a little milky sugary coffee as well just to finish off a pot or something.
Around the table the roles were well identified. The table, which I still own to this day was pulled away from the wall and I crawled into one of the chairs at the back. Sheana and Irene sat on the opposite side and mum and dad sat at the ends. As the meal progressed and we got to where people wanted toast. I got the job of running the toaster. Putting in nice white slices of Mammy’s bread and returning gloriously browned and crisp slices of toast to be eaten hot, like any civilized family would, slathered in butter and marmalade or occasionally jam. The toaster was a miracle of the age. the toast popped up when it was ready. Two slices at a time. Hardly any waiting if I was doing my job correctly and on this day in particular I was being sure to do the job well because I wanted to be sure there wa no cause for complaint. I may have mentioned we were going to the EX and Roy Rogers was going to be there with Trigger.
As the meal wound down near its conclusion the toaster came into play. It was a shiny stainless steel one with black plastic end pieces which held the controls and as I said sat on the table right beside me. It may seem odd to some now but there was nothing about the design of the toaster to keep the sides of it from getting hot. The rating on it was I believe about 9000 watts and after the first couple of cycles it could turn out toast in about 30 seconds. The cord drooped from the table to the plug which was in the wall right behind my shoulder and on about the third or fourth time through it happened.
I knocked something over on the table, I can’t remember what, and in trying to catch it, my arm caught on the cord and pulled the toaster off the table onto my arm. Now I was a brave, brave, and stoical, five year old but it is possible that I grunted of perhaps sighed a little bit when this happened. My older sister says I shrieked like all the banshees of hell, but her memory is pretty unreliable at her advanced age. My father claims I caused him partial deafness in his left ear but I think he was exaggerating. What was certain, and what I had no way of hiding was that I blistered and burned practically all the skin on my left forearm.
Mum got me to the sink and poured cold water on it in seconds but there was no doubt about it, it was burned, really well burned. This meant trouble. As soon as I was able I pointed out that it wasn’t too bad and we should just go on as planned. Parents can be really dense sometimes. They insisted that we needed a doctor’s opinion. It looked ike the trip might be erased. My sisters were looking at me as if they were going to kill me if the burn didn’t turn out to be fatal.
Mum was tending to my arm while dad made a phone call.
Now this par of the story you’ll just have to take on faith. I don’t think there is anyone living anymore who could back this up as probable or possible.
Dad hustled me into the car and we went to Dr Lewis’ office. DrLewis was of course who he had called. Dr Lewis got out of his house and into his car and went to his closed office. He had suggested that, since he had some medicine there to treat the burn, otherwise he would have made a house call. While there, he examined the burn, declared it not life threatening, treated it with some sort of ointment and wrapped it with gauze with a warning to keep it dry through the weekend and to come back and see him again on Monday. Dad thanked him, we got back in the car and were back home within an hour.
When we got there, we had a family meeting about going or not going. Three kids voted to go, I may have mentioned Trigger was going to be there. The parental units which in this family always held a veto weren’t sure about that. I said I didn’t hurt much at all and it would be terrible to wast the whole day for such a minor little problem.
The discussion went on for a few minutes and the fate of the free world as we know it hung in the balance.
Trigger was magnificent. Roy and Dale were pretty cool too, the free world survived and the arm really didn’t hurt that much.