10 Jul 2014, 11:14am
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My Mom: A True Original

My Mom:  Mary Ellen Trigger Rogers Clemente

My Mom: Mary Ellen Trigger Rogers Clemente

“I was great for telling stories,” my mom, née Mary Ellen Rogers, told me as we sipped frosty beers and munched on chips and salsa in an old cowboy bar in Scottsdale, Arizona. “When I was a  young girl, my neighbor had a beautiful horse called Suntan,” she continued. “I dreamed of having a horse, so I started telling the story that Roy Rogers was my uncle. It was a plausible story, since my father was from Wyoming and, of course, my last name was Rogers.”

As I listened to my mom recount this tale—one that I had heard before but was relishing even more beneath the sweltering summer heat of Arizona here in this beloved watering hole where so many had come before–I sensed that she had lived this story so much that she almost believed it to be true. “When I was in the sixth grade, I had a leather belt with letters that hung down, spelling out TRIG. You know, as in Trigger, Roy Rogers’s horse. I was tall with long, bushy, blond hair, so I did sort of look like a horse.”

“I remember people calling you Trig,” I said.

“Yes, a few people—those that are still alive—still do,” my mom added as she scooped up the chunky salsa with her tortilla chip.

Outside the Greasewood Flat Old Bunkhouse Where the Music and Crowds Rock the Ranch During Certain Evenings and Weekend Days

Outside the Greasewood Flat Old Bunkhouse Where the Music and Crowds Rock the Ranch During Certain Evenings and Weekend Days

The Burger Pick Up Window

The Burger Pick Up Window

We were savoring a particularly delicious moment at Greasewood Flat, an old bunkhouse from the late 1800s converted into a cowboy bar in 1975, that’s today one of the most authentic and colorful places to grab a burger and a beer within the whole Phoenix/Scottsdale area. This is the kind of thing that happens to you when you travel, I thought. Travel allows you to imagine yourself differently, to take on other personas, to reveal sides of yourself that you might keep more under wraps at home.

As we sat within a well-worn, creaky decor that looked more like a Hollywood movie set than a place to spend a Saturday night, I could see my mom’s cowgirl spirit shine. We had just met up in AZ; we were both fresh off the plane and travel weary. But still, I knew this place would serve as a great intro to Arizona for her. Plus, it happened to be located just across the street from the Four Seasons Scottsdale where we were to be staying the next few nights, a true testament to how this rough and rugged desert land had been developed into one of the most affluent communities in America over the past century.

“People would call up and ask for Trig,” mom continued. “Mary Ellen is here, grandma would say,” my mom trailed off as I heard my grandmother’s voice resounding in my head. “I loved it,” my mom added. “People called me Trig throughout all of high school.”

A Ceiling Streaming with One Dollar Bills

A Ceiling Streaming with One Dollar Bills

Mom and I finished our green chili cheddar cheese burgers, beers and chips, commenting that they were some of the best char-broiled burgers of our lives. I enquired about the thousands of dollar bills that bedecked the inside of the little bar and restaurant and we decided to become a part of the tradition, too.

“Let’s put it right behind where we were sitting,” I said to my mom. “Then maybe someday we’ll come back here and find it. And remember the evening we shared here.”

Mom looked at me with a glint in her eye, with an Annie Oakley spirit that spoke of adventure, triumph and fun. My mother has lived all that and so much more both for real and in her fantasies. And I’m grateful to the travel gods and the good Lord above that my mom was given the opportunity to share this side of herself again here with me on this hot and dusty desert night.

“I loved horses,” my mom said. “I still do,” she added, as I leaned in closer to hear more of her stories and I imagined my mother as her younger self, strong, bold and ready to take the world by the tail. And so I came to imagine her stories as half-truths as well.

“We still have to go to Laramie some day,” I said to my mom. “That would be a fun trip, too.”  Mom just smiled at me with a far-off look in her eyes. I hope that will happen, I thought. But in the meantime, I’m just enjoying our time together now.

Our Bill

Our Bill

The Dollar-Sticking Tradition at Greasewood Flat

The guys behind the bar told me that since there weren’t any banks back in the days of Old West Scottsdale, cowboys used to come in and stick their dollars up inside the bar, only to retrieve them in case they needed to pay for a much-needed drink. I guess the tradition stuck although today folks  leave them there as part of the tradition and decor.

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    This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Maribeth Clemente. This blog sometimes accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner of this blog is sometimes compensated to provide opinion on products, services, Web sites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for certain posts or advertisements, she always gives her honest opinions, findings, beliefs or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger's own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
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