The Black Cat Bar

So, today is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riot in New York City, one of many attacks on gays by police in various jurisdictions over the past many years. The Stone- wall was a gay bar in New York City. On June 28, 1969 there was a police provocation that led to a riot that went on 2 more nights. What was different about the Stonewall event is that a year later there was a public commemoration of the incident, considered to be the first gay pride parade. It caught on in New York, nationally, and internationally. In some European countries June 28th is referred to as Christopher Street Day.

But, by no means was it the first police riot against gays in New York or elsewhere. Of especial interest to me is the story of the well-named Black Cat bar in San Francisco. It opened in 1907 by Mr. Charles Ridley, who made it a a place for drinking, dancing, and vaudeville. The police shut him down in 1921 on charges of running a disorderly house (possibly prostitution.) He reopened at a different location, 710 Montgomery Street, in 1933. He sold the bar to Mr. Sol Stoumen in the early 40’s. During the forties the bar began to attract a Bohemian clientele, attracting Beat writers and artists. Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahlo had their studios nearby. If you dropped in for a drink and some conversation you might have heard Truman Capote tell you that he was a drinker with a writing problem. You might have run into John Steinbeck, William Saroyan, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, or Jack Kerouac. In fact, the model for the club in Kerouac’s novel, “On the Road,” was the Black Cat. And, the bar began attracting homosexuals. During WWII thousands of service men were discharged from the military because of homosexuality, and they found themselves on the West Coast, not particularly wanting to return home to a life of cultural repression. San Francisco was a more welcoming place to them, and, of course already had a homosexual community. In 1948 the City and the State began a harassment campaign against the Black Cat. There were frequent raids and arrests. Some of these attacks by police poured out into the street, with beatings and arrests of gay patrons. Their liquor license was revoked, but Stroumen fought this all the way to the California Supreme Court, and won. The court ruled that the license could not be revoked simply because homosexual people congregated there. But the city and state kept up the pressure, and Stroumen finally closed the bar in 1964. Why do I tell you all this? Because it is important for people to understand their history. To think that the government will protect your civil rights is naive. Stand strong for what you believe. And because Black Cats Rule!

Judy thinks the dead animal wrapped up and left in the lawn and leaf bag in front of our house several days ago might have been a little yellow cat that showed up a couple of weeks previously. She was very skittish, and neither Judy nor I could get close to her. I don’t know her name. She looked to be pregnant and might have been sick. Anyway, we haven’t seen her for over a week. Too bad.

Mike feels better today by quite a bit, even though his cough and low grade fever persist. He went to Emory for chemo yesterday, but they withheld it because of his cough and fever. He goes back in 2 weeks. He hopes to be able to go back to work Monday. Oh, and you should see his legs from the levaquin drug reaction. They are swollen and covered with scarlet blotches. He says they hurt and itch some, but not too badly. At least there is no way this can get any worse. Maybe I shouldn’t say that. Thank you all for your continued prayers, love, and support. Mike couldn’t do this without you.

By the way, I should say that none of the historical information included in this blog was derived from original sources. This is generally the case. If you find errors of fact please bring them to my attention in the “Comments” section.” Thank you.

Well, I guess that’s all for now from Happy Meadows. Be well, be safe, and be proud. Bye y’all.

 

Author: Black Magic

Black Magic is a handsome, charming, and self-absorbed cat who lives with Mike and Judy Gordon in Marietta, Georgia. He is about 7 years old, and he will remind you at every opportunity that his grandfather was Black Jack, that famous cat who wrote his own autobiography. Black Magic has a great many opinions, and despite his natural feline arrogance, he seems to be genuinely spiritual. But the reader can decide for him/herself.

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