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  THE CRIMSON CORRAL: Western Memories
  
Dale Evans

Birth Name: Lucille Wood Smith
Born: October 31, 1912 - Uvalde, Texas
Died: February 7, 2001 - Apple Valley, California (congestive heart failure)

By Tim Lasiuta

Calgary Cowboy Festival February 5, 1999

Have you ever met royalty?

I did. And it was a moment that will forever be frozen in my mind, one that I will tell my children, friends, and family about until the day I die. 
 
On February 5, 1999 I met Dale Evans, the Queen of the West. And it was a special moment.  I had been anticipating this moment for almost a month now, ever since I learned that she was to be in Calgary for the Calgary Cowboy Festival. I had carefully contacted the Roy Rogers/Dale Evans Museum to get permission to talk to Dale for more than a few minutes, and I had contacted the Convention center to arrange a time. After all of this, Friday afternoon was the time, my date with Dale.

Early afternoon February 5, we arrived at the Marriott Hotel, checked in and ate lunch. We walked down to the Convention floor to check the interview time with Jill Sloan, the event coordinator. Gone, out of pager range. Up the stairs we went to take our children to the Calgary Tower. 

Then, it happened.

Down the hall, Dale Evans rolled towards us. Seated in her wheelchair, and being pushed by an assistant she still beamed energy. Dressed in a red fringed Cowgirl skirt, and smiling she stopped. 

"Hello Ms Evans" I said.

"Hello" she replied.

I held my son (in my arms) down to her.

"This is Curly Joe" I offered.

She smiled.

"He's cute" she said.

"Yes he is." I answered proudly.

"My name is Tim Lasiuta, I'm hoping to interview you a little later today."
I said.

"That's good" she said.

"This is Cheryl?" I said looking at the woman pushing the wheelchair.

"No, she's up there" Dale replied.

Cheryl walked back to meet me.

"I'm Tim Lasiuta."

"Pleased to meet you. Mom and us are going for a bite to eat."

And that was it, they wheeled Dale by to Dale's words.

"What a cute baby" she said.

A little while later, after a trip to the Calgary Tower, we found Jill Sloan.
She was not going to be giving any more interviews, as she was tired. Disappointed, I walked away feeling blessed by my encounter with the Queen of the West. There is still tomorrow, she's signing books. One more chance to talk to her. I have to be there.

Saturday, February 6 1999, McLeod A Foyer. I am amazed at the variety of people present. Dale, in a few moments is going to be presented with a White Stetson from the City of Calgary. There are young people (20 and up), middle aged adults clad in denim and lace, adults in everyday attire, and seniors clutching well worn copies of "Angel Unaware" or "The Answer is God". I, at the mid point of the 30's, feel somewhat out of place. Born and raised in a time when Dale's and Roy's values were openly rejected, I was not weaned and 'fed' on the" Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show" on TV, or the Saturday afternoon matinees.

The lights dim slightly, and Dale is wheeled out, the sound of clapping breaks the silence. Dale, looking happy, smiles at everyone. The Calgary Visitor Representative leads Dale through the vow of loyalty to Calgary. Apparently even God wears a White Stetson in heaven. 

Dale adds.
"I know one more that does."

So do we Dale, so do we.

Dale carries on with the rest of the vow.

Hat firmly on head, she gets the Calgary welcome, and then speaks for a few moments. Her voice, still strong and recognizable, is all that echoes through the room. She thanks everyone and then is wheeled behind her table. Autograph time.

These people around me are each here for a reason. Some come to say thank you for years of entertainment (me), some come to share a story of joy or of sorrow, some come because she was 'mom', or Roy was 'dad' during their youth. One thing they all have in common, we all have in common, is that we are here for Dale. To hear her, to see her, to bask in her Godly glow.

It doesn't take long to realize that Dale is special, the looks on the faces of the old children around me confirm that. She holds a special place of fondness in the hearts of everyone here. She is sincere in her interest in you as a person, she is sincere in her zest for life, she is sincere in her desire for America, and Canada to have positive, godly role models. She, at her core, is sincere and dedicated to her faith in the Living God. You can feel that by being around her, she emanates an aura that's hard to resist. 

50 years of performing, 50 years of touring, 50 years of caring for millions of people of all ages. Role model-Definitely! Queen Of the West-without a doubt! That's why we are here, to pay homage in our own way.

Bob, beside me is lost in emotion. Over 6 feet tall, he is paralyzed by her presence.

"I never thought I'd meet her." he says stunned.

"This is an emotional moment for me. I don't want to leave" he adds.

And he can't. I look at him, he is fixated by Dale. Perhaps in his mind he is 7 years old, and running to the theatre, money in hand. Perhaps he is sitting in room, reading a well worn comic book, or listening to the radio. Only he knows. He has been touched, and will always be different because of it.

An elderly woman, sits on the other side of the room, and reads her "The Answer is God" while she watches Dale too.

I look at the crowd, in my minds eye, I see these people as young children rushing to the theatre to catch the latest Roy and Dale movie, I see the parents leaving their precious bundles in the Rogers care, and I see parents clutching a dying child in their arms, calling on God to take care of their little angels.

True Godliness in rare, but Dale is. Through their lives, Dale, and Roy exemplified the Christian life bringing many people to the throne of grace. They brought joy, and hope where none existed through many acts of compassion and sacrifice. One of these angels has left us, white stetson in tow, but the other is here with us now.

I stood there quietly while people passed by. They will always remember this day. I leave my book with Cheryl for the museum, it's all I have to offer back. I turn and leave, taking one final look at the Rogers entourage.

"God Bless them" is all I can say.

Tim Lasiuta

Click HERE for more info and a Filmography on Dale Evans.
Contact Tim Lasiuta.

 
Interview/Article is (C)copyright Tim Lasiuta 2003 - And is printed here with the author's permission.
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