On this date in 1950, the results of Bismarck’s Sears-Roebuck safety slogan contest 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 his wife, Dale Evans, were in Bismarck as part of a tour they were making with their cowboy band. Jack Case of 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, [but] he did make a spirited show a moment after the flash photos were taken. A beautifully groomed animal, Trigger was well behaved considering the noise and excitement around him. Perhaps he has gotten used to that, traveling around with Roy in his numerous roundups of bad hombres as he does.”
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 earlier that week, 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 figured he’d be a regular television performer.
Thinking of his own father’s ranch near Mandan, Billy asked Rogers how big his ranch was and whether he had ever performed in the Mandan Rodeo. Rogers replied, “No, I haven’t, but I would like to sometime. The reason for this tour is to give me a chance to meet a lot of people who I never would see if I stuck to the big city rodeo. Tiring? Sure it is, but I have never made such a tour and have always wanted to.”
The young reporters learned Rogers’ tour got off to a rocky start. Outside St. Joseph, MO, a wheel came off Rogers’ trailer, and his prize dog, Bullet, was injured in the accident. Bullet had to be left with a veterinarian because of an injured spine but seemed to be recovering at the time of the interview.
Jeanne asked Roy what his favorite song was, and he quickly replied, “Home on the Range.” Upon learning the Rogers had two daughters about her own age, she asked how they did in school. Roy said the girls did well, with pretty good marks. “They attend a public school just like anyone else,” he said. “I believe that is where they learn the most.”
Fans were crowding in for autographs, flash bulbs were popping, and stagehands were bustling when Dale showed up. Jeanne asked her 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.”
“Do your daughters like to ride?” Jeanne asked.
“They certainly do,” Dale said. “I think they would sleep with their horses if we would let them.”
And then, the band struck up their opening number, and the interview was over. Roy and Dale walked out on stage to entertain an audience of some 3,000, adoring, North Dakota fans.
Source: The Bismarck Tribune. 10 & 11 Nov 1950.
Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm