Vintage Things That Have Disappeared In Your Lifetime?

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by LizzieMaine, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. tonyb

    tonyb Vendor

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    Boning up on the local “code” was the first order of business for the traveling drinker. The rituals concerning the dispensing of liquor varied considerably from region to region, state to state, and even county to county.

    I was young and naive as to these matters when I found myself in a Southern state where bars as I’d known them were scarce but “private clubs” were plentiful. I soon got the sense that this was how drinking establishments got around anti-discrimination laws. And, in the case of myself and my traveling companions, how they kept out shaggy young Northerners. Having my presence so blatantly regarded as undesirable gave me a small taste of what some people put up with on a daily basis.
     
  2. EngProf

    EngProf A-List Customer

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    The main thing that the Southern private clubs were "getting around" was the long arm of the law - cops and crusading district attorneys. Liquor by the drink was illegal for many years, that being changed in the bigger cities within my lifetime.
    Not wanting shaggy young Northerners was likely "just on general principles".
     
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  3. tonyb

    tonyb Vendor

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    What “general principles” would those be?
     
  4. belfastboy

    belfastboy My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Okay this post is not exactly in line but it could come true in just a few years and then fit. I am an opera fan and there is a strong movement within certain circles in the opera community to sanitize or expunge the "dated' concepts. There is a movement to somehow change (don't ask me how as I have no idea) the narrative of opera to eliminate the misogyny, classism, racism, etc etc etc. and bring it into a more modern and acceptable perspective.
     
  5. EngProf

    EngProf A-List Customer

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    Considering that what they were doing was illegal, and they didn't know you, letting you in would be an unwise decision. The drinking clubs were not called "speakeasies" around here, but the same principle applied: "Joe sent me." - You had to know someone to get in.
    Your apparent assumption was that there were racial motives involved: "I soon got the sense that this was how drinking establishments got around anti-discrimination laws." Black or white, if you didn't know someone "on the inside", you didn't get in.
    I'm curious when and where you experienced this situation. I'm 71 years old and liquor-by-the-drink was made legal here before I was old enough to drink. It's an interesting aspect of local history, and I'm well aware of it, but not something I could possibly have directly experienced.
     
  6. p51

    p51 Practically Family

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    Well behind the front lines!
    I call it being "A prisoner of the check," as it's very common to wait forever to get your check. They're not trying to upsell, you either, so I badly would like to know the business advantage to making people sit around waiting for the bill/
     
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  7. Woodtroll

    Woodtroll Practically Family

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    Uh-oh, here we go! ;)

    I would expect the same regional “general principles” that applied in years past of being different people from a distant part of the country. Folks become less friendly and a lot more judgmental of others when they’re competing for resources, whether that means jobs, land, women, or whatever. Sort of like the reception the Appalachian folk received when they traveled the “hillbilly highway” north to find work in the steel and auto industries. There’s been a long history of discrimination in our country, many instances involving the same race on both sides of the issue. No single race can play the discrimination card to the exclusion of others. That would also be discriminatory, wouldn’t it? ;)
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
  8. tonyb

    tonyb Vendor

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    I doubt the private club’s serving alcohol to its members was illegal. It appeared the legal status was akin to that of a country club, or a “college club” or an “athletic club,” which in most jurisdictions of my familiarity are licensed to dispense alcohol to their members and some limited number of members’ guests.

    FWIW, I’ve long noted a human tendency toward self-segregating where drink is involved. Consciously or not, rightly or not, people are more comfortable being under the influence of alcohol in the company of “their own kind,” the particulars of which will vary from place to place and time to time. It might fall along occupational lines, or religious ones, or ages, or sexual orientations, or any number of other ways in which people distinguish themselves from other people. And in the U.S., it might very well be race.
    It’s not an exclusively Southern phenomenon, of course. In way north and way west Seattle, few bars cater exclusively to any particular racial group, but in the southeast section of the city, which along with the Central District was where black folks were found in larger percentages (back before the entire city got pretty well gentrified), there were indeed “black bars” (Vince’s comes to mind; my former sister-in-law worked there) and a fairly notorious “redneck bar,” the Empire Way Tavern, which retained its title long after its namesake roadway was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Indeed, it kept that name right up until it was demolished to make way for a road expansion and a light-rail line.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
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  9. Inkstainedwretch

    Inkstainedwretch Practically Family

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    When I was a boy in the early-mid '50s I was lucky enough to take some trips on Pullman sleeping cars. One odd ritual was passing through Oklahoma. OK was a dry state and that meant that, when the train reached the OK state line, it had to drop off the "bar car." Once on the far side, it picked up another. I remember my grandmother harrumphing at this foolishness. She kept a flask in her purse for emergencies such as passing through Oklahoma.
     
  10. EngProf

    EngProf A-List Customer

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    The specific provisions of the law on the subject of liquor-by-the-drink varied according to time and place, especially in the south.
    Here (Nashville) in those days all the places you mentioned - even the most-exclusive country club in the city - were prohibited by law from serving drinks.
    This news segment from the 50th anniversary of the legalization of selling liquor in Nashville mentions specifically that particular country club and shows some vintage film of cops hauling out contraband liquor in raids, just like Eliot Ness.
    https://fox17.com/news/local/ferrier-files-nashvilles-complicated-history-with-liquor-by-the-drink

    Some quotes from that story:
    "You could find anything you could imagine on Printer's Alley. It was a magic place for a young liquor runner named Mike Massey. It had such an impact that he remained in the liquor business for more than 50 years, right up to this day.
    “Fantastic, a wonderful place to be,” said Massey, owner of Hillwood Village Liquors. "You had to know somebody to get in the places, but the clubs were unbelievable. Great music, great service, good food."

    The one thing it didn't have was legal liquor by the drink because it was against the law back then. While it was gleefully broken on Printer's Alley, the city was not getting any tourism or conventions.

    So 50 years ago, liquor-by-the-drink went to a countywide referendum with some interesting allies.

    Mayor Bev Briley was tired of losing tax revenue to the illegal activity. The police department was tired of the raids. Surprisingly businessmen, including some who didn't drink, just saw it as necessary.

    It met resistance in the religious community, who urged its church members to vote no.

    "To think you couldn't walk into a restaurant and buy a drink 50 years ago," said David Briley, current Nashville Vice Mayor and grandson of former mayor Bev Briley. "Look at Lower Broad now and see how that honky-tonk industry has brought a stream of tourists. It is pretty unimaginable that you could not buy a drink the the capital city of Tennessee."

    But of course it wasn't unimaginable. In early 1967, Memphis had voted down liquor-by-the-drink by 10,000 votes. Nashville took notice.

    That's when Mayor Briley and Metro Nashville Police started closing clubs all over town, even the Belle Meade Country Club, 30 days before the election. It was nigh impossible to get a drink in this town.

    “It was the only way they knew to get it passed was to make everybody thirsty," Massey said. "When they closed the men's bar at Belle Meade Country Club, there was no place to get a drink anymore."

    Liquor-by-the drink passed overwhelmingly. Within a year, Nashville had its first convention hotel."

    As a non-drinker myself - because I don't care for the taste, not for any moral or religious reasons - I find the subject interesting from a social/historical perspective.
     
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  11. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The "private club" tradition has been used as a tool to ensure sex discrimination as well as racial or ethnic. It was the center of a significant political scandal in my town about twenty-five years ago, a story I covered as a reporter. The city council was, at the time, an "old boys network," and it didn't appreciate when an activist lawyer who happened to be a woman was elected. The male councilors began holding private meetings at the local Elks Club -- at that time a male-only group, at least at the local level -- knowing that She Who Must Not Be Heeded would be unable to attend and "interfere" with their discussions. Being a lawyer, she knew her angles -- and argued that because a quorum of council members was present at these meetings, they were, therefore, de facto council meetings and not just informal get-togethers by Elks. And since the local Elks did not admit women, therefore these meetings were illegal. The old boys protested, "what do you mean, can't a few buddies get together to shoot the breeze and have a few without it being dissssssssscrrrrrrrrrrimination? (They actually hissed the word when they said it out loud, which made for hilarious radio. I actually made a tape loop of it, which was even funnier.) A formal complaint followed with the appropriate legal body, and the ruling was that yes, it was in fact discriminatory and illegal.

    The upshot of it was, the female councilor, with great fanfare, was allowed to join the Elks, and for some reason the sub-rosa council meetings suddenly stopped. Wonder why?
     
  12. tonyb

    tonyb Vendor

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    We sometimes fail to remember just how recently these blatantly discriminatory practices were both legal and ubiquitous. I’m not yet ancient, and I’m acquainted with U.S. citizens who were placed in concentration camps solely on account of their ethnicity. Those same citizens were banned from living in certain neighborhoods — legally, back then, which ain’t so long ago.

    In light of that history, it’s entirely reasonable to suppose that membership in country clubs had less to do with golf than with fostering a social and business climate to benefit some to the exclusion of others.
     
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  13. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Yep. And those restrictive covenants were not some clandestine thing pursued quietly and out of the spotlight -- "restricted neighborhoods" and "restricted communities" were openly and widely advertised as such. The restrictions were written right into the deeds of the individual houses and lots, declaring that in perpetuity the property could not be sold to or occupied by any member of the "Negro, Mongolian, or Hebrew races." And these restrictions were wildly popular in upscale parts of the North, especially high-end suburban developments. It was estimated that around eighty percent of properties in Greater Los Angeles carried such restrictions.

    In its February 1937 issue, Good Housekeeping magazine -- the voice of Hearst in bourgeois America -- gave a special citation to ten such suburban communities which had reached a 100-percent level of restriction designed to ensure that only the "right kind" of "social standing" prevailed. Eleven years later, the Supreme Court reversed its 1927 decision ruling such covenants a matter of private property and abolished them, but they had lasted long enough to be written into the deeds of Levittown and many other big postwar developments.
     
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  14. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Meanwhile, comes word that Mad Magazine will be essentially shutting down operations this summer -- laying off its creative staff, eliminating newsstand sales, and shifting to an all-reprint format sold only in comic shops.

    This has been coming for a long time, ever since the death of William M. Gaines in 1992 robbed the publication of any kind of guiding vision. But in its heyday, from 1952 into the early 1970s, it was an important force in teaching young Americans to question authority -- and especially to question everything to come out of the mouths of the Boys From Marketing.

    Satire is all over the modern internet, of course, but in many ways it's a poisonious kind of satire -- a satire that mocks the oppressed rather than the oppressor. That's a misreading of the entire purpose of satire, and while Mad was often hokey, often lame, and often too obvious in its thrusts, it never came down on the side of evil the way too many modern "satirists" do. I haven't read Mad in probably forty years, but I'll still miss it when it's gone.
     
  15. 3fingers

    3fingers One Too Many

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    There is a video on YouTube made in Levittown during that fight. I'll say it's an interesting snapshot of the time that shows a mindset that too many people believe was prevalent in the south, but was actually more insidious in the northern states.
     
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  16. tonyb

    tonyb Vendor

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    My layman’s understanding is that the Court’s 1948 reversal of its earlier decision made such racially exclusive covenants unenforceable, but it didn’t bring a halt to the inclusion of such language in those covenants (even if such language was essentially meaningless legally), and it didn’t ban individual property owners from discriminating on the basis of race. It took the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to prohibit such practices.

    So de facto racial restrictions in housing continued well into the memory of most of us here. And it doesn’t take such a vivid imagination to see how it continues to this very day, in more subtle ways.
     
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  17. 3fingers

    3fingers One Too Many

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    I remember when Archie Bunker's neighbor sold his house to the Jeffersons, he assured Archie that they were good people because they were Baptists before beating a hasty retreat out of the neighborhood.
     
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  18. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The use of such covenants in Levittown was especially ironic, since the majority of people moving in there were the sons and daughters of immigrants who'd swallowed the worst aspect of the "American Dream" -- that to get ahead, you have to step on the necks of someone else to do it.
     
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  19. tonyb

    tonyb Vendor

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    The 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. took the wind out of the sails of the Poor Peoples’ Campaign. Ralph Abernathy and others attempted to keep that campaign going, but with King’s death its most forceful and compelling moral voice was lost and with it the campaign itself.

    I count that among the most tragic lost opportunities of my lifetime. King was onto the opposition’s game of pitting the have-nots against one another, and recognized that elevating low-income blacks and whites hinged on getting them to make common cause.
     
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  20. There are still "private club" drinking establishments here in Texas, and they are almost always in an otherwise dry county or dry city. They were originally a way for private organizations, lodges, VFW halls, etc, from getting around the fact that selling alcohol was illegal in that particular jurisdiction. The permit allowed them to offer "free" liquor to members, while recouping expenses via a "service fee". Pretty soon, these "clubs" started using public establishments such as restaurants as their service mechanism, and it was eventually ruled that these "private clubs" could be owned by the same owner as the restaurant, and said owner could hire himself as the operator of his "private club". This is still the practice today. The bar of a restaurant is a different legal entity as the food service portion, and when a patron orders a drink, he signs up as a voting member of a private non-profit organization. He doesn't pay directly for the drink, he pays a "service fee" to his club for serving him free liquor. So the point was not racial discrimination, but rather getting around the archaic liquor laws (though I'm sure there were plenty of establishments who refused to grant memberships to certain ethnic groups).
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
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