Roy Rogers and Billy the Kid

I have run across more evidence of long-simmering Texas-New Mexico tensions, once again involving Billy the Kid — and this time Roy Rogers, too.

After a photo of Billy allegedly playing croquet emerged in 2015 — or a photo of someone wearing a cockeyed hat like The Kid — the Fort Worth-Star Telegram sniffed in an editorial: “Billy the Croquet Kid? Not much of an outlaw.”

BillyTheKiddetail
Expanded portion of photo handled by Kagin’s and featured in National Geographic TV special.

My own view is that the murderous Kid is highly overrated as a New Mexico legend. But he keeps cropping up. I keep writing about him too, but mostly because of the croquet scandal.

My most recent thoughts, though, involve a pre-croquet example of Kid fascination and a talking horse. I am never sure how unidentified flying thoughts actually enter my air space,  but I think these might have occurred after I caught a glimpse of the 1938 Roy Rogers flick, “Billy the Kid Returns.” Billy the Kid Returns poster

The title is tricky title because The Kid has already been shot dead by Pat Garrett and the plot really revolves around — it almost hurts me to say — good guy Roy being mistaken for bad guy Billy.

At any rate, I managed to scribble down this conversation between Roy Rogers and his talented palomino mount, Trigger. The snide implication is clear: Texas is always bigger and badder.

“What do you think of these New Mexico bad men, Trigger?” Roy asks.

Trigger shakes his head and neighs.

“You’re right,” Roy says. “They wouldn’t make common chicken thieves back in Texas.”

After being reminded of yet another Texas-related New Mexico put-down, make note of this: Both Trigger and the movie hail from California.

I now  look forward to finding the 1940 film “Billy the Kid in Texas,” wherein, according to Wikipedia, “Billy the Kid runs into his old friend Fuzzy in a wide-open Texas town” and the Texans end up electing Billy sheriff.

Happy trails, New Mexico.

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