Thanks, Lash LaRue, for trip through time

June 09, 1996|By Ray Recchi

THE OLDER WE GET, the easier it becomes to travel in time -- if only in reverse.

We can be doing almost anything -- working, having a picnic, shopping, watching TV, driving the car -- when suddenly and unexpectedly we are jerked back through the years by a scent, a sound, a word, or a song that conjures up vivid pictures of days gone by.

I took such a trip recently when I read the obituary of movie cowboy Lash LaRue.

If you're under 40, you might never have heard of him. But LaRue was one of a group of "good guy" cowboy stars whose low-budget movies dominated Saturday morning TV during the '50s.

Instead of a gun, LaRue carried a bullwhip, with which he could snag the gun out of the hand of any "bad guy." Other such good guys included Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy and Whip Wilson, another bullwhip specialist.

They were America personified -- or at least the idealized version of what we thought we were. They were pure and kind, rugged yet polite. They always represented good against evil and the weak against the strong. Most of them wore white hats, and all of them always emerged victorious.

Each Saturday morning, my brother Ron and I would rise with the sun to watch movies starring Lash or one of the others as we drank our Ovaltine. When the "kids shows" were over, we would go outside and "be" Roy or Gene or Hopalong or Whip or Lash, depending on which one we had seen that day.

So when I read that LaRue had died, I immediately was transported to a Saturday morning in the late '50s.

In the sophisticated, politically correct '90s, of course, many consider those movies and their stars to be either laughable anachronisms or poor role models.

We laugh because they never cursed and could get 20 shots out of a six-shooter. And I don't remember anyone ever dying, either. For a generation or two of children, they underscored lessons our parents taught about being good, standing up for right against wrong and helping those in need.

For that -- and for occasionally providing a lovely trip back to Saturday morning -- LaRue and the rest deserve some measure of gratitude.

Ray Recchi is a lifestyle columnist for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Pub Date: 6/09/96

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