Great American Saloons are still around? Yes, but on remembering the subjects previously celebrated now, American Saloons? Arnold’s of Cincinnati? The Union Oyster House? You never heard of the real saloons. You never drew your noses in Tombstone’s Bird Cage, the Clippel Shades Saloon in Butte, the Sazerac House of Virginia City, or the Long Branch.-
In their best days, the saloons were glorious and enchanting lieu. Earlier, when white husbands first entered the West, the saloons were, well, functional. Some were set up in prairie wagon. Tents, Kansas sod rooms, and Arizona adobes too sufficed the purpose in their day. Characteristic of these early serpent ranches were leaky ceiling, openings of elk obscure, the outdoors for plumbing, and wooden timbers for bars.
When the territory towns prospered from mining or kine, so did their saloons. Timber or brick walls supplanted canvas or adobe, and hide-covered openings afforded sit to glass.( Saloon custodians then had to install cast-iron disallows in front of the panes to protect them from the butts of horses hording under the covered boardwalks during rainstorms .) Ornate furnishings showed: sixty foot walnut, oak, and mahogany disallows, shipped by rail from Chicago or around the Horn from England; brass runways, spittoons, and towel hooks to accompany the bar( the towels were for mopping sud off your mustache ); backbar reflect and shelves for displaying bottles and paraphernalia; a potbellied stove; and oil paintings of seductive girls. Ending this high art was not always easy. Illuminating received from candles or kerosine lamp, which sometimes hung in groups from wagon motors. Eventually gas-lit chandeliers were installed in the more profitable watering holes, and, as energy became available sometime in the century, light bulbs decorated the interiors.
The exteriors of western jughouses were not something you’d miss journeying through municipality. Two floors high-pitched, the saloon front was impressive–until you caught a profile. The front walls were impostors: double the size of the buildings themselves. They moron no one, of course, hitherto contributed to the carnival atmosphere “the consumers ” expected and enjoyed.
The whiskey mills were, after all, shelters. Busting your posterior on a horse was tiring, repetitive, soiled, and dangerous work; mining and agricultural were no picnics, either. At the end of the month you needed time out , not time off, and saloons afforded the escape: brotherhood, excite, immediate gratification, high-pitched stakes and fast war, gender, distraction, and edification. In the Old West everyone drank, and no one wanted to drink alone. Guzzling was socializing, and the place to socialize was in your neighbourhood serpent ranch.
ALONG WITH THE ROTGUT came other amusements. Gambling, from poker and roulette to prancing grasshoppers and contending dogs, was an opportunity-more or less, depending on the faithfulnes of the house–to” knock Dame Fortune on her ass .”” Pretty waiter girlfriends ,” the sometimes partly dressed nymphs in the hurdy-gurdy saloons, were good for a dance and often more. Sexes, those fragile sisters and soiled falls, is engaged in many barrelhouses, like Denver’s Elephant Corral and the Alamo in Abilene.( One of these fancy girls was Calamity Jane, so listed because of what the hell are you contracted upon becoming personally acquainted .) And just as these fallen angels had their sit in the saloons, so did proponents of the unblemished assortment: Itinerant evangelists were usually welcome to address the assembled carousers. It was a fair arranging. The sin-buster got a ready-made congregation, and “the consumers ” enjoyed some lively entertainment.
In addition to the threat of eternal damnation, there are still the fact that there is earthly sentence. Many a cantina doubled as the neighbourhood courtroom. Parishes adopted referees on the basis of their common sense, fair play, and knowledge of the law-unless, of course, book-learning get in accordance with the rules of reasonableness. Excogitating a brand-new law was easier and faster than developing good sense on the job, so legal proceedings were often decided solely by a judge’s ability to exert his authority. Texas judge Three-Legged Willie was once investigated on a point by a defendant who maintained a bowie knife against the judge’s throat while positing:” This is the law of Texas !” Willie countered with his Navy Colt:” And here’s the Texas constitution !” Another Texan is perhaps the most famous of the old barroom jurists. Judge Roy Bean maintained field in his saloon, the Jersey Lily, in Langtree. His Statu listed both the pour distinguish and the town in fondness for a touring actress from the East, Lily Langtree.
GUNFIGHTING IN WESTERN SALOONS was awfully fairly, albeit not in the manner of” Have Gun, Will Travel” or” The Rifleman .” A mint of men made extend, chiefly between 1860 and 1885. Perhaps more was killed in saloons than in the western Indian campaigns; on the other hand , no fewer was killed in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen or in Storyville of New Orleans during those times. Contrary the idea of frontier savagery, like most errors, were commodities of the eastern press.( Some things never change .) Centuries before, European legend had sanctified pistol-waving gunmen; the Japanese portrayed fibs of their outlaw Samurai. In that knowledge, the reporters from New York and Baltimore wrote extravagantly of the manipulates of such gunmen as Jesse James and Wild Bill Hickok.
There were, of course, more than a few professional gunfighters. Several “Kids” had reputations: the Texas Kid, the Nevada Kid, and Willie, Jimmy, and Billy the Kid, the latter starting his life of crime embezzling shirts from Chinese laundrymen. John Wesley Hardin may impound the record for saloon shoot-outs, having killed perhaps 40 husbands. Most professionals, nonetheless, did not live long enough to accrue such a fibre of accomplishments. If they were not fire in simple clashes, their neighbors would bushwhack them.
Most gunfighting was between amateurs, typically cowboys. From” can’t see to can’t see ,” these men herded, fed, sprayed, branded, and fenced kine, and they labored at their errands for weeks, sometimes months, without a break. On the job, cowboys carried grease-guns because of varmints, Indians, rustlers, pirates, and range campaigns. Besides, there used to be the institutions of the Revolution, the innovators, and the Civil War to uphold. What the hell, all cowboys wore cast-iron. And when they stumbled the saloon on payday, they heard no reason to unbuckle.
, MEN WENT TO SALOONS to have a good time. The barroom was a sit to set aside your encumbrances, to purge yourself of dwell, sadnes, and displeasure, to freshen your outlook on “the worlds”. But while no one objected to these goals, there lived those who were intolerant of the means for reaching them: spouses. As the number of members of married women in the West became substantial, their insistence upon establishing orderly, educated societies grew hopeless to discount. And then two directions peaked: the supply of liquor and beer and the century-old reaction to chronic drunkenness. The onetime worsened the latter because overproduction, especially of beer, resulted in price-cutting, which increased sales little than it lessened advantages.