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Roy Rogers was a true hero to JohnnyPosted Friday, January 9, 2009, at 6:42 AM
Since I work at a newspaper, you'd think I'd be up on the news but I miss some things -- I just realized last weekend that Bob Ingalls had passed away last August. He lived in Spencer and I hadn't seen him for awhile.
The Ingalls family had a lot of roots in Worthington. When I ran into Bob's obituary, I also realized his brother Pat has passed away too. Pat lived in Florida but also used to live in my hometown. I was always going to write a little story about one of Pat's sons but never got around to it -- now's as good a time as any.
Back in the mid-1950s, Pat Ingalls had a jewelry store on the Triangle downtown just a few doors north of where my dad and grandpa worked in the Model Garage. Of course, I hung out a bit in the garage -- it was in the building where Richard Rush has an auction house now.
One hot day when the big doors to the garage were standing open, I was watching my dad work when a bunch of cowboys ran in. They were in the middle of a shootout. They were all wearing their gunfight regalia -- cowboy boots, shirts with swirly stuff, cowboy hats that were too big for their heads and big holsters. They were all packin' heat and the six shooters were blazing. They chased each other around the cars yelling "Bang, bang," etc. while my dad and I stood in the line of fire. They were the Ingalls boys.
One of the gang was my age -- Johnny Ingalls. He would have been in my class at school but he came down with a terrible malady of that day and age -- polio.
While the rest of us were still running and playing, going to school and having a big time together, Johnny was alone, stuck in a wheelchair with a prognosis that was not good.
Johnny could not walk -- the shoot-outs had come to an end but he could still watch the good guys battle the bad on the television and he could still dream. His dream was to meet his hero -- Roy Rogers.
Johnny passed away when I was in the third grade, but not before his dream came true.
My dad told me the story -- it was a normal day and Johnny's folks had wheeled him out onto the front porch of their home on the northeast corner of Main and Jefferson -- a couple of blocks from the downtown Triangle. He was just getting some fresh air and watching the traffic go by -- he didn't know it was a special day.
And then with no fanfare, a truck pulling a horse trailer came into Worthington and parked in the street right beside the Triangle. A man hopped out, got a horse out of the trailer and saddled him up.
Quite a few shopkeepers uptown were standing out on their sidewalks watching, but nobody bothered the man even though he was famous. They all knew the Ingalls cowboy gang, had lived through the shoot-outs, and they knew why the man was there. When he swung up into the saddle, one of them pointed the way and he rode west.
A few seconds later, Johnny looked up to see Roy Rogers and Trigger coming down the middle of Main Street. Roy was grinning from ear to ear and he greeted Johnny like he was an old friend, because he was.
Roy tied Trigger up on the porch railing right in front of Johnny's wheelchair, walked up on the porch and pulled up a chair to sit a spell with Johnny.
Some people are called heroes by advertising and marketing folks who just try to turn them into heroes. Other people are called heroes because they really are heroes -- like Roy Rogers.
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