Although Ginger Wind may have been Sam’s greatest personal nemesis, he and the Park faced other challenges from many quarters. Even before the Park opened, Sam had encounters with parties opposed to his vision. Of course the Morris family was desperate to retain its power and schemed against Sam for years. (They seldom presented a direct, provable attack.) More direct but much less diligent were the organized crime bosses who began threatening Sam long before the groundbreaking. Here is a transcript of one of their later meetings.
Bop City, Sam’s office, 1957
Sam meets with concerned businessmen
Sam: Come in and be seated, gentlemen. I hope your flight in was pleasant.
Joey Gargan: We didn’t come here for pleasure. Don’t build your toy city.
Sam: Well, I can’t say you’re overly subtle. I suppose we won’t mince words then. We will build Bop City. Ground was broken over two years ago, Bop City Centre is nearly complete and we’ll be hosting events there next year. We have previews of the Park scheduled now and we will have a hot opening in two years. Even if we could have been persuaded not to build, that day has passed.
Mickie Mannheim: It ain’t too late to stop.
Sam: Mr. Mannheim, it was too late years ago. We will open, we will succeed. If this is the extent of your interests, I believe we are done.
Gargan: Slow down, Bop. You’ll stop if we tell you to stop. You were warned to watch your business procedures before you ever started. You been building wrong and we can stop you now or stop you later.
Sam: Actually, Mr. Gargan, you can’t stop us at all. We were well aware of Rockville’s supposed building codes, despite no new construction we’ve seen from the last fifteen years approaching compliance. None of that matters now, of course. In line with the arrangement between Bop Original Properties and the state of Arkansas we are the building code authority for the Park. You people cannot intimidate us, extort from us, dictate to us, or otherwise impose your criminal practices on the citizens of Rockville or other interested parties. Again, I believe we are finished here.
Mannheim: You’re finished, Bop! You’re making powerful enemies, here!
Sam: Mr. Mannheim, have you ever asked yourself, “Why do we never hear of Sam Bop’s enemies? He must have them. Who are they? Where are they?” Excellent questions. Perhaps you won’t have to learn the answers. Good day, gentlemen.
<Sam stops recorder, leaves room, and the lights drop to brown>
Sam had other, mostly earlier meetings with these and other legitimate businessmen, but this short exchange was both the most intense and, as it would turn out in our opening year, quite pivotal.
In 1959, as part of Bop City’s opening festivities, several of the most popular package tours were booked. Among them was a tour featuring Davey Viera, P.J. Richards, and Slim Laidlaw. The Winter Shimmy Showdown had played Cleveland, Indianapolis, Peoria, and St. Louis, and was on its way to Bop City when the plane the headliners were traveling in had engine trouble and crashed in a field in southern Missouri. Initial reports told of no survivors, and it looked like Bop would suffer under the onus of rock music’s first tragedy. But as the world would learn, that was not to be the case…