Tag Archive: Gatsby’s Bicycle Bar


[Read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5] Stay with me and all will be revealed – you probably figured that out by now.  As I said in one of the earlier posts, this is where we would always park and enter the mall. The building on the left was a later addition and was a JC Penney store. On the other side of the Penney’s was where they built the original movie theater.

I don’t remember going to the movies there a lot. I had other things to do. Then there were girls. But I do remember going to midnight movies there. Midnight movies were new and a very big deal. You could go to parties, or places where you could drink beer, burn vegetation or practice better living through chemistry. Then go and see a show. Perfect. All these years later, the only time you hear of a midnight movie, it’s the five millionth showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

A few of us would put on suits and go downtown to Gatsby’s Bicycle Bar in the Hilton. Once there, we would walk in like it had been a tough day at the office. We would order Tequila Sunrises and talk bullshit as usual. I’m glad I don’t remember a lot of what I said in those times. We would go on the same day of the week each time, because the bartender knew us and wouldn’t ask for I.D.s

When our house burned down (see part 4) with a car in the garage, my parents traded the Mustang I was driving that night in on two cars. The car that I drove, except when mom needed it and I couldn’t run her errand, was a ’69 – I’m pretty sure – Thunderbird. To my surprise and enjoyment, it had eight freaking speakers. Quadraphonic was still a concept in the research and developmental stage, if at all. And the back doors opened the opposite way of the front doors. I felt like a chauffeur.

We would take the Thunderbird down to Gatsby’s. On one particular occasion, we stayed longer than we should have, and drank more than we should have. I don’t remember how we left downtown. I assume the tollway (which was a quarter) to Lovers or Northwest Highway and then to Inwood. I was driving pretty well. I had the least to drink. It was either between Hillcrest and Preston or Preston and Royal when one of those unforgettable events happened.

Brian was in the back seat and said he felt sick. I asked him if he could hold it. He answered in the negative. Before I could say anything else, he opened the door to lean out and throw up. The door opening the opposite way almost jerked his arm off and threw him out of the car. But he held on shakily.

I turned right onto the next street. I was trying to get past that particular neighborhood. There were no sides to the two lane road, just front yards. Front yards that led up a lush lawn to very expensive houses, several of which had very bright security lights.

I pulled over and told him to hurry the hell up. Fortunately, it did not take long, but I kept the window down all the way to Brian’s house anyway. I very carefully made a u-turn without leaving tracks on manicured lawns. Then it was my turn to hurry the hell up and get out of there. I was praying no one had seen us and called the cops.

After making a series of unnecessary detours that my paranoia thought were entirely necessary, I dropped my passengers off at their homes, which were, mercifully, on the same block. I was home ten minutes later. I walked into our apartment down the street from Valley View Mall. Of course, people were still up. I did my best to act sober as I worked my way toward my room. I fell asleep glad that no one had called the cops and Brian hadn’t thrown up in the car.

Peace be with you.

Grand Theft Dinnerware

spaghetti-warehouseA Meetup group I’m a member of, Dallas Ukulele Headquarters (DUH), is having a Christmas party at the Spaghetti Warehouse (formerly the Old Spaghetti Warehouse) in the West End. I’m not able to make the party, but it got me to thinking about the Old Spaghetti Warehouse (OSW for brevity). When I first went to OSW, there was no West End. There was a parking lot and car lot nearby. It was a warehouse district – hence the name. Which made it cool and unique, but could be a pain in the ass to park. And it was dark in the area.

In the early ‘70s, a bunch of friends and I decided to dress up and go to OSW. Just to do it for one thing. And for another, no one ever “carded us” to buy liquor or beer when we were dressed up. Mark, Brian, and myself would dress up and go down to Gatsby’s Bicycle Bar in the Hilton downtown and drink tequila sunrises (thanks to the Eagles song and it being a good drink). No one ever ask for our i.d. But that was a different time.

Anyway, we arrived at OSW, parked, and trekked to the restaurant. We were seated on the second floor, which was for larger parties – the DUH party is on the second floor. I think there were about eight of us. It was about even, male and female, but all mostly friends. If not, no one knew yet. The restaurant was busy and it took a while to get served anything other than water.

Keep in mind, we were teenagers on the loose, with time left on our hands waiting for the waiter. Small talk led to silly talk which led to strange thoughts. I said it was the ‘70s, right? A lot of giggling and outright guffaws ensued. For amazingly little reason.

Then we came up with a master plan. Someone had the bright idea that we could take the entire table of place settings without leaving a trace. I’ll cop to it being me because it sounds like something I would come up with (I was a writer even then), but I have no idea as to why. Probably because we were bored, left alone, and we could. I’ll also cop to it because what actually happened was excellent.

I put silverware up my sleeve. I would like to point out – just because – that I got a lot of wear out of that suit. I got married both times in that suit. It had a vest, so I think that was how I got plates. The napkin was easy. I think the girls got the glasses in their purses/bags. When we were done, there was nothing on the table but the tablecloth and centerpiece. And we did it in seconds – maybe almost a minute. And no other customer or waiter on the second floor noticed – like I said, it was really busy.

We sat there, full of pride and nervous as hell, and had a hard time acting serious. Finally, a waiter – I’m not even sure it was ours – walked by and actually turned around to gave us an inquiring look. And headed off, obviously intent on finding a manager. Which he did, of course.

In almost less time than it took to abscond with the dinnerware, we had the table set back up. Almost better than it had been when we arrived. The manager thought the waiter was a little off. That was one of the best spaghetti dinners I’ve ever had. I still feel a little bad about the waiter being “caught in the middle.” But other than that, it was one of the slickest thefts that never was.

Peace be with you.

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