Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Personal / Stories / pk by Age / College Years /
late 1950s and on: @ K. 2002 02 16
By 2002 I counted over a dozen files in which my escapedes at the Whitehorse Tavern were mentioned. Yet there are still a thing or two I don’t remember telling yet. I’ll blurt them now and edit and coordinate some other time.
My smuggler story talks about how I’d discovered that I could drink practically for free at the Whitehorse from say 1958 through almost 1960. Cathy, the gorgeous redheaded nymphomaniac explained it to me years later.
Oh. So you were one of the ones who benefited from the tab deal! You see [I paraphrase], after the Whitehorse was written up in Life Magazine, a lot of Madison Avenue types started coming in and demanding that Ernie run a tab for them. Ernie did. And then John, and Marty … [bartenders and waiters] would put the drinks of those they liked, those they felt were good for atmosphere, on the tabs of those they didn’t like: the ad execs.
Mr. Big Shot would come in on a Friday night when the line to get in wrapped from Hudson Street to West 11th and call, “Ernie, my tab.” John would add it up and hand it to the guy. The guy would sputter, $167.35?!?!? But all I had was one whiskey sour.” “Pay it, or get out,” Ernie would tell him. “And don’t ever come back.” Enough guys paid it to keep me and apparently others with a buzz on for years.
I’d had no idea.
You know when you’re sitting at a table and Marty comes over with a round of drinks and a pony of Chivas Regal for Ernie?, Cathy says, and Ernie comes over and toasts the table by gulping his shot? That round was on the house. That’s the only round that was on the house. All the other rounds that put you under the table, they were all on Madison Avenue.
A lot of TV writers would come in on a Friday night and try out their stuff for next week’s Tonight Show. Typically the writer would plant a straight-man on the other side of the bar so he could yell to the whole room.
How’s yer wife?
I wouldn’t trade my marriage for all the happiness in the world.
How’s that kid of yours?
Does he talk yet?
Well, he knows a half-a-word.
Half-a-word? What’s that
Did I tell you about my parrot?
I crossed it with a lion.
I don’t know: but when it talks, I listen!
There was a fat bearded guy who was frequently in the back room. I never spoke to him. I never got his name. I have a feeling that he was a sculptor who lived in the neighborhood. One night he’s with a woman and another couple or two and talking loud. “What’s the caloric content of pussy juice,” he wonders. No one at his table enlightens him. I can’t have been the only person not at his table who heard him. But no one from any part of the Whitehorse enlightens him. “I always gain ten pounds after an affair,” he goes on.
Or do you think it could be the dozen doughnuts I always eat afterwards?
I’ll date that at 1959. That’s close, I’m sure. I haven’t been too many places before or since where I would have been invited to overhear such a conversation. I don’t even remember any extraordinary blushes from the women at that table.
Funny thing about human culture: most of us love to fuck. Some of us love to suck. But not too many of us are used to public admissions of either.
Forever & Ever
2016 07 12 I’m streaming The Irish Pub and it hits me like never before: That what the Whitehorse was: an Irish Pub: or Welch, and Scots: German owned but thoroughly Celtic.
There are no strangers in an Irish pub, only friends you haven’t met yet.
William Butler Yeats
There’s drink: and company. If you want company. There’s also solitude if that’s what you want. But Celtic “drinking” culture is also characterized by what it doesn’t provide, things the absence of whichyou count on without even knowing it: there’s no music! Unless you and your friends (or Tom Clancy and his brothers) are doing the singing. There’s no TV. No baseball game. There’s nothing there to squash conversation. That’s what I loved about it: took to like a frog absorbing water.
They love when there’s no music to annoy their conversation.
Likewise contemplate McSorley’s. McSorley’s Old Ale House! Now there was an Irish pub! No women allowed, god bless it.
My wife Hilary and her father, Marcus, and I were on the town one night. I suggested an ale at McSorley’s to Marcus: he’d never been. Hilary knew she’d have to wait in the car while we guys went and drank. Um, I think we stayed, we two bachelors, far longer than was conscionable. Sorry, Hil: that’s not all you had to put up with. Nor I.
No Women Bars
I’m just remembering a couple of other memorable bars. Hil and I drove to Vancoever in 1968 or so. We were attracted to a bar / restaurant because it clearly had separate entrances for men and women! Naturally we had to attend. On the street, we were together. Inside the restaurant we were (re)united. But entering, and again exiting, we were separated.
And then there was the August Dave and I spent together in 1961 working the NYS flattrack season: August was in Saratoga. We rented a room in Balston Spa, the Whitehorse Inn. Whitehorse! That’s what attracted me to it. It too had a men’s only bar. There was a bar maid serving. Indeed there were no male employees. Women were allowed: in a separate room. They had to enter thorugh a back door: only men could come in directly from the street.
This bar had Michelob on tap! In 1961 I’d never heard of Midhelob, though I soon leared that Anhausser Bush had long brewed and sold small quantities. In 1961 it only came by the keg, for certain customers: like the Whitehorse Inn.
There was an ordinary bar across the street. Dave and I frequented that bar too, picked up heterosexual females there too: at least I did. But the atmosphere of the Whitehorse Ill was unmistakable, and irreplaceable.