The following memory is from:

I remember the first time I saw and heard live rock 'n roll. It was at the old Armory. I'm not sure, but it was probably 1958 or 1959. These were the early days of rock 'n roll and the only place to hear the music was on the radio or on your little 45 rpm player. Needless to say, the music was great but didn't have the power of a live performance. I have no idea who organized the event, but Bill Bennett ("Have you got your radio on? How does it fit?") from WDGY in the Twin Cities came down and was the master of ceremonies. He introduced the Big Beats and when they began to play, I was hooked. The sound and the power of electric guitars and the driving beat of the drums filled the armory with music that blew away the sound I heard on records and the radio. I think the Big Beats came back to Faribault at least once more and later had an appearance on Dick Clark's American Bandstand (when it was still in Philadelphia). Later, I also remember seeing Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps at the Armory. After those live rock 'n roll performances, Buddy Koopman's band would never seem to be such a big deal again.

I also remember when the Canning Factory hired African Americans from the south to come to town during canning season to work and live near the factory. I remember there was a dance at the Armory, and several of these workers showed up and some even danced. I don't recall that there was any kind of incident, but I'm sure it was my first real close exposure to Blacks. Looking back, I'm sure this had to have a positive effect on many of us living in a very isolated small town in the Midwest. I also remember John Patten organizing a touch football game between several of the Black workers and our football team. It was probably late August while we were in training for the season. My most indelible memory of that game was realizing that not every African American could run and catch the football like Lenny Moore. In fact, most of them were no more talented than we were. I have no idea who won the game, but it made an impression on me that, Black or White, we're all pretty much the same. Thanks, John, it was a lesson worth learning.


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