If Massachusetts were to have an official state cowboy, the man to fill that 10-gallon hat would be Rex Trailer. Eight months after the beloved local TV star died at 84, state Senator Mike Barrett has filed a bill to give him that title.
“Not only was he an honest-to-goodness cowboy from Texas,” Barrett said in announcing his bill, “but he was literally a pioneer for people with disabilities. In 1961 he led a wagon train across Massachusetts to raise awareness of the challenges they face.”
Trailer starred in the local Children’s TV show Boomtown during the 1950’s, 60’s and early 70’s.
While children of that era may recall Trailer singing, roping and riding his horse Gold Rush, he was also imparting lessons about people with disabilities.
“Rex pioneered the concept of full inclusion on local children’s TV,” says Barrett, Senate Chair of the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. “Boomtown featured a broad range of youthful humanity, kids with physical and developmental challenges included.”
If passed, Barrett's legislation would designate Trailer the Official Cowboy of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Trailer lived in Sudbury and owned a television studio in downtown Waltham. Barrett filed the legislation at the urging of CC Carole, a Chelmsford woman who was a longtime friend of Trailer.
“As fun and entertaining as the show was,” said Carole, “I didn’t realize at the time I was being taught a life lesson” about the need to include all people with disabilities.
Trailer used his fame to raise awareness of charitable causes, including as national spokesman for Muscular Dystrophy.
He was also honored in a tribute at Natick's Fourth of July parade this year, where he was named "grand marshal in memoriam."
“He was the original Boston legend,” Maureen Sullivan, a member of Natick Friends of the 4th, the committee that honored him in the parade, said. “He was genuine. He was one of the nicest people you could ever meet.”
Shandana Mufti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.