Buffalo in the ’70s: Carrying your own six-pack into Bills games

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

It might have been the birth of the modern tailgate party in Buffalo.

A few days before the grand opening of the brand new Rich Stadium in 1973, the Buffalo Bills put fans on notice that they’d no longer be able to take their own six-packs of beer into the stadium, as they’d been able to do the previous 13 seasons at the Rockpile.

When the Buffalo Bills played at War Memorial Stadium from 1960-1972, fans were allowed to carry in a six-pack of beer with them to enjoy the game. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Noting that the changes were being made “for the safety of the fans,” Bills General Manager Robert Lustig told United Press International that the Bills were falling in line with “almost all other major league football stadiums,” and added that War Memorial Stadium was, in part, bring-your-own-beer because there weren’t adequate concession facilities in the 1937-built stadium.

While the more cynical among us might see dollar signs behind the safety warning, the ban was likely a long time coming after a handful of well-publicized incidents at Buffalo’s city-owned entertainment venues.

In response to what Larry Felser called “one of the most inept performances ever put on by a Buffalo football team,” several hundred fans at a 1962 game showered the field at the Rockpile with thousands of beer cans.

Buffalo Stories archives

Two years later, Buffalo Police called it a “near riot” when fans at The Aud hurled empty beer and pop bottles at the stage and at police when a music act failed to show.

Given those two incidents, Police Commissioner William Schneider requested that city lawmakers pass an ordinance barring people from bringing beer into city-owned Memorial Auditorium and War Memorial Stadium.

One of Buffalo’s more famous tailgate parties is hosted by Ken Johnson, who cooks on the front hood of his red 1980 Ford Pinto wagon. He’s known as Pinto Kenny or Pinto Ron– after a writer got his name wrong in a story. Known for his Pinto, he’s also known for bowling ball liquor shots and the spraying of condiments – which started after a request for some ketchup for his hamburger got out of hand at one tailgate party.

When Rich Stadium was built in 1973, there was a proposed law before the Erie County Legislature looking to ban fans from carrying beer into the stadium. A petition against the law gained nearly 5,000 signatures, but the Bills rule made the law unnecessary.

Starting with the Bills move to Orchard Park, if you wanted to have a few of your own beers for the game, you had to have them in the parking lot before you went in the gates. And out in the open farmland country of suburbia, there was plenty of room to have a few beers and spread out.

Tailgating at the Rockpile was different. People parked on city streets or on the tiny front lawns of the people who lived around the stadium. Maybe there were a few kids throwing around a football or older guys chomping on cigars, drinking coffee from a Thermos and reading the newspaper, grabbing their six-packs only as they walked into the stadium — not draining them before.

Over the 43 years since the Bills stopped allowing fans to BYOB, Buffalo’s love of football and beer and Buffaloness has evolved into its own unique cultural experience — the tailgate party like none other.

Torn-down Tuesday: Ice cold beers in Williamsville, 1888

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

When Matt Horey died in 1926, he was remembered in The News as “well-known in Williamsville and surrounding areas, having had a place of business at the corner of Main and Cayuga Streets.” The business, depending on which description you believe, was either a hall, a hotel, a saloon or a tavern.

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This photo appeared in The News in 1949, courtesy of the Horey family.

Aside from a tavern, Horey’s was also a regular polling place around the turn of the 20th century.

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The building was torn down in 1923 to make way for a bank building, which was a Liberty Bank branch for many years.

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It’s now the home of a Bank of America branch.

Buffalo in the ’90s: $3 beer, no waiting at Rich Stadium

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Answers abound and imaginations run wild when Bills fans are asked what they’d most like to have about the 1990 Bills for today.

Buffalo News archives

Jim Kelly? Thurman Thomas? The hope and expectation of great things about to happen with the team?

Before you get too far ahead of yourselves, think about stadium prices. The best seats at Rich Stadium in 1990 were $35, but you could get into the game for $20. Parking was $4, and an 18-ounce beer was $3.

Sure, Hall of Fame owner, Hall of Fame general manager, Hall of Fame coach, five Hall of Fame players — but think about walking into the stadium with a 20, buying six beers, and still having enough for a $2 tip for the beer guy.

Buffalo in the 60’s: Meet your Simon Pure Man!

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The William Simon Brewery, makers of Simon Pure beer, was the last Buffalo-owned brewery of the 1960s and 1970s.

When this ad appeared in The News 50 years ago today, September 8, 1965, Iroquois and Simon Pure were the last beers being produced in Buffalo, but Iroquois was owned by out-of-town interests. The Simon family owned the brewery from 1896 until it closed as Buffalo’s last beer producer in 1973.

Back to the glory days of 3¢ beer in Buffalo!

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Everyone loves a cheap beer, right?

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But 3¢ beer? Now that’s news!

As newspapers around the country struggle, maybe they need to take a page from the 1935 Courier-Express, and report the news the people want– Namely, find the city’s cheapest schupers and kimmelwecks, and print that. Print it everyday.

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After reading this, I’ll never pay a nickel for a beer again!

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

Photos from Buffalo’s Jimmy Griffin years

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

He remains one of the most popular figures in Buffalo’s history. He was also one of the most vilified.

Jimmy Griffin was Mayor of Buffalo from 1978-1993. No one has ever held the post longer, and it’s a pretty good bet that no one ever had more fun doing the job. He got things done. Like Pilot Field. And the waterfront. And the Theatre District. And getting people to stay home and enjoy a six pack instead of heading out into the Blizzard of ’85.

Look at the smile on this guy’s face in nearly every photo, and tell me he’s not having a good time.

Mayor Griffin with Burt Reynolds, when he was in town shooting "Best Friends."
Mayor Griffin with Burt Reynolds, when he was in town shooting “Best Friends.”
Mayor Griffin had a car phone in the 80s. When they were REALLY cool.
Mayor Griffin had a car phone in the 80s. When they were REALLY cool.
Reeling in a Lake Erie mermaid with lawmaker Mary Lou Rath.
Reeling in a Lake Erie mermaid with lawmaker Mary Lou Rath.
Hizzoner was a natural behind the controls of a front loader.
Hizzoner was a natural behind the controls of a front loader.
He was also a natural on an elephant, leading the circus parade into the Aud.
He was also a natural on an elephant, leading the circus parade into the Aud.
With Seymour Knox on the Aud ice…
With Seymour Knox on the Aud ice…
Jim Griffin: Buffalo’s original Irish dancer? with Mercy sisters wearing Talking Proud buttons, dancers, and County Executive Ed Rutkowski
Jim Griffin: Buffalo’s original Irish dancer? with Mercy sisters wearing Talking Proud buttons, dancers, and County Executive Ed Rutkowski
Jim Griffin’s leadership spawned waterfront construction…
Jim Griffin’s leadership spawned waterfront construction…
Two rockstar Jims of 80s Buffalo… Jim Kelly and Jim Griffin
Two rockstar Jims of 80s Buffalo… Jim Kelly and Jim Griffin
The ol’Rockpile… Griffin’s tenacity and will pushed though the building of Pilot Field…
The ol’Rockpile… Griffin’s tenacity and will pushed though the building of Pilot Field…
County Executive Ed Rutkowski, The Mayor, and Danny Neaverth on the streets of South Buffalo…
County Executive Ed Rutkowski, The Mayor, and Danny Neaverth on the streets of South Buffalo…
A true man of the people and a one-time gin mill owner, Mayor Griffin poured a fine beer…
A true man of the people and a one-time gin mill owner, Mayor Griffin poured a fine beer…

These photos are among the roughly 200 photos which come from a new book about Buffalo’s beloved mayor.

A Buffalo Scrapbook: Gimme Jimmy! The James D. Griffin Story in his own Words and Photos, by Steve Cichon, will be in stores next week, or you can order a copy now at www.mayorgriffin.com  and have it delivered to your home by next week.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com