(Unless otherwise noted, the Kathryn Tucker Windham blog is written by her children, Ben Windham and Dilcy Windham Hilley.)
Every child was a fan of cowboy shows in the 1950s. From Hopalong Cassidy to Gene Autry, it was a horse-riding, gun-slinging good time to be a kid.
Among the most popular TV stars of that era was the singing cowboy, Roy Rogers. Known as “The King of the Cowboys,” he appeared in more than 100 films and dozens of radio and television episodes of The Roy Rogers Show. Alongside him on the show were his third wife Dale Evans, his palomino Trigger, and his faithful German shepherd Bullet.
Though both Roy Rogers and Dale Evans had an impressive number of previous marriages, they seemed to find enduring love in their relationship.
Not everything in their Western royalty lives was perfection. Their only child together was born with Down syndrome and died just after her second birthday. Shortly after in 1953, Dale Evans Rogers wrote a book about little Robin Elizabeth called Angel Unaware.
The title came from Hebrews 13:2 which says, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Angel Unaware soared to the top of the bestseller charts and was widely hailed for its openness about children with disabilities. It seemed that every home in America owned a copy. We did. I can still remember the cover with Roy and Dale looking toward heaven at a vision of their child. Steeped in the Christian values of the 1950s, the book was discussed endlessly among family and friends around the country.
My brother, Ben, must have heard many of those conversations among neighbors and friends. He was four about that time and absorbed every word he heard. One day as Mother was going about her chores, Ben came to her with a challenging question.
“Mama,” he said, “what kind of underwear do angels have?”
Mother paused, puzzled by the origin of that question. “Why do you ask, Ben?”
“Well, everybody’s talking about that book about angel’s underwear, and I just wanted to know about it. That’s all.”
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"Some people are important to intellectuals, journalists, or politicians, but Kathryn Tucker Windham is probably the only person I know in Alabama who is important to everybody."
–Wayne Flynt, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Auburn University.
Ben Windham & Dilcy Windham Hilley
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