THE BARROOM AS AN EDUCATIVE INFLUENCE
By Don Marquis
Chapter Four, “The Old Soak and Hail and Farewell,” 1921
“Well, as I said in my first installment, some of them barrooms was such genteel places they would surprise you if you had got the idea that they was all gems of iniquity and wickedness with the bartenders mostly in clean collars and their hair slicked, not like so many of these soda-water places, where the hair is stringy.
Well, this is for future generations of posterity that will have never saw a saloon, and the whole truth is to be set down, so help me God, and I will say that it took a good deal of sweeping sometimes to keep the floor clean and often the free lunch was approached with one fork for several people, especially the beans. Well, it has been three or four years even before that Eighteenth Commandment passed since free lunch was what it once was. And some barrooms was under par. But I am speaking of the average good class barroom, where you would take your own children or grandchildren, as the case may be.
They was some very kind-hearted places among them where if a man had spent all his money already for his own good they would refuse to let him have anything more to drink until maybe someone set them up for him.
But to get down to brass tacks and describe what they looked like more thoroughly I will say they was always attractive to me with those long expensive mirrors and brass fixtures like a scene of elegance and grandeur out of the Old Testament where it tells of Solomon in all his glory. And if a gent would forget to be genteel after he took too much and his money was all spent and imbue himself with loud talk or rough language and maybe want to hit somebody and there was none of his friends there to take charge of him often I have seen such throwed out on their ear, for the better class places always aimed to be decent and orderly and never to have an indecent reputation for loudness and roughhouseness.
Well, I will say I have not kept up with politics like I used to since the barrooms was vanished. My eyes ain’t what they used to be and the newspapers are different from each other so who can tell what to believe, but in the old days you could keep in touch with politics in the barrooms. It made a better citizen out of you for every man ought to vote for what his consciousness tells him is right and to abide in politics by his consciousness.
Well, closing the barroom has shut off my chance to be imbued with political dope and who to bet on in the next election and I am not so good a citizen as before the saloons was closed. I would not know who to bet on in any election but I used to get straight tips and in that way took an interest in politics which a man is scarcely to be called an American citizen unless he does.
Well I see everywhere where all the doctors and science sharks says to keep in touch with outdoor sports if you want to keep young. I used to know all about all those outdoor sports and who the Giants had bought and what they paid for him and who was the best pitcher and what the dope was on tomorrow’s entries at Havana, but all that is taken away from me now the saloons is closed and I got no chance to get into touch with outdoor sports and I feel it in my health. Some of these days the Prohibition aliments will wake up and see they have ruined the, country but then it will be too late. Taking the sports away from a nation is not going to do it any good when the next war comes along if one does.
Well, I promised I would describe more what they looked like. I will tackle that in the next chapter, so I will bring this installment to a close.