On this date in 1950, the results of the Sears-Roebuck safety slogan contest in Bismarck were in. The winner was a 10-year-old from Ft. Lincoln, for his slogan, “Go Slow or You’ll Go – Fast.” His award was a gold-colored statue of Roy Rogers’ horse, Trigger.
Young Larry “Roy” Amon took possession of his prize that night, when Roy Rogers himself gave it to him on stage. Rogers and wife Dale Evans were in Bismarck as part of a tour with their cowboy band. The Bismarck Tribune wrote, “Roy Rogers is ‘King of the Cowboys’ and western fans couldn’t have found a more gracious, friendly, down-to-earth ruler for their sovereign.”
For young Larry, the highlight of the evening was sitting – for a good 10 minutes – in Roy Roger’s saddle on the real Trigger. The story read, “…the Wonder Horse did not attempt any of his famous tricks for the young horseman’s benefit … Trigger was well behaved considering the noise and excitement around him.”
Larry wasn’t the only youngster involved with the event. The Tribune chose two special reporters to conduct an interview with the western duo – 7th graders Jeanne Lewis, who had just moved from Mott to Bismarck, and Billy Russell of Mandan.
The young reporters questioned Dale and Roy before the show, with Billy asking the first question: “Have you ever been on television?” Roy said he was still under movie and radio contracts and had appeared on TV only a few times. He forecast, however, that someday he’d be a regular television performer.
Billy asked Rogers if he had ever performed in the Mandan Rodeo. Rogers replied, “No, I haven’t, but I would like to sometime.”
The young reporters learned Rogers’ tour got off to a rocky start. Outside St. Joseph, Missouri, a wheel came off Rogers’ trailer, and his prize dog, Bullet, was injured. Bullet had to be left with a veterinarian, but seemed to be recovering.
Jeanne asked Dale if she liked to cook. Dale said she certainly did, and Billy jumped in, asking, “Roy, what dish of Dale’s do you like best?”
“Fried chicken and corn bread,” Roy said. “She can really cook them.”
Then, as the band struck up their opening number, the interview was over. Roy and Dale walked out on stage to entertain an audience of some 3,000, adoring, North Dakota fans.
Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm
The Bismarck Tribune. 10 & 11 Nov 1950.