By Charlie Feldman
July 7, 1955 is considered by many to be the official birthday of the rock and roll era. Although records you could dance to as rock and roll had been around for years and rhythm and blues music was starting to enjoy a successful crossover to the tame pop charts, that was the exact date that “Rock Around The Clock” replaced “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” at the top of the Billboard magazine record listings.
Thus the wild rockin’ ’50s began, according to rock historians who hadn’t been born yet. Wild dancing in saddle shoes. Teens playing chicken in a hot rod race. Juvenile delinquency. All set to the tune of a wailing sax or a hopped-up electric guitar.
Maybe some of the radio stations in far away places like St. Louis had that kind of music sandwiched between Patti Page and Perry Como, but in Troy it was definitely still the Eisenhower era.
Here are some of the hot and wild news items in the Troy Tribune on the day the rock era dawned.
• Storm Hits Troy Area; Causes Much Damage. This combination hailstorm, wind storm and cloudburst hit Troy and the surrounding area between about 5 p.m. on the Fourth of July, according to the newspaper. It blew down trees and limbs, six power lines, a grain silo, damaged several roofs and created a puddle on the low part of the highway a foot deep.
• Free Frozen Custard Offered At The Drive-In. To celebrate its first anniversary, the Tasty Treety is offering free frozen custard. This is a front page news story. The chamber of commerce must have had an incredible amount of power in those days.
• Paul Simon Leaving For South American Tour. Paul Simon leaves on Thursday for Central and South America to get material for magazine articles he is writing. The next time a Paul Simon tour will make headline news will be years later when a singer with the same name and a guitar and a duet partner named Art Garfunkel hit the road to promote their folk songs.
• Troy Residents Take Farm Electric Tour. This was sponsored by an Illinois Farm Electrification group and included stops in Effingham, Newton, Robbins, Charleston, Marshall, Windsor and Shelbyville. Participating from Troy are George Plagemann and Delmar Launius, who is an ag teacher at McCray-Dewey High School.
• Citizens Attend City Council Meeting To Protest Fines. Approximately 20 citizens came to the meeting to protest the large number of recent arrests in the city. A total of $983 in traffic fines had been collected during the month of June. One hundred violators had appeared before Justice of the Peace Louis J. Grieve and 67 before Police Magistrate Arthur Pahl.
Mayor Oscar Gindler said the best way to slow traffic is to see a driver being warned by a policeman.
• Local Family Back From California Trip. A local couple and their baby daughter are back from a three-week trip where they visited a brand new park named Disneyland, the Grand Canyon, and Tijuana, Mexico and attended the TV programs “Art Linkletter’s House Party” and “The Bob Crosby Show.”
• Homecoming Chairman Urges Everybody’s Help. Troy’s 16th annual Homecoming, scheduled for July 22-23, though sponsored by the Lions Club and the Jaycees, needs everybody’s support, said Mayor Gindler. The proceeds benefit everyone and not just these two groups, he said, and the public can help make it a success.
The front page also boasted on that fateful day five births, one death, one broken hip from falling off a ladder cutting down a tree, a youngster losing two toes in a farm field accident and the Troy American Legion inviting everyone to its installation of officers and free dance with the music of Harry Lewis and his orchestra.
Inside, there is a Bible school, a new church youth group, the sixth meeting of the Clover-Leaf 4-H Club in St. Jacob, a mother of the bride wearing a light blue lace dress with white accessories and a corsage of pink carnations while the mother of the groom wears a mauve rose lace dress with tan accessories and a corsage of white carnations, a christening and a sale on Purina Animal Chows in St. Jacob. Life was simpler then.
The city of Troy wouldn’t become wild and rockin’ until at least after someone invented Beatles.