psychologist, diplomat, information clerk, confidant, mathematician
May 30, 2021 1:38 PM   Subscribe

A brief and incomplete history of Black bartenders in the US. A brief and incomplete history of women bartenders in the Michigan. (With secondary links to paywalled academic library stuff.)
posted by eotvos (4 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Also, today I was surprised to learn from this article that Stag Lee Shelton (Stagger Lee) was a real, living person and the song about a documented event.
posted by eotvos at 4:46 PM on May 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

This may be a bit of a ramble so I apologize in advance.

In the early 70's I had graduated from college, was pondering graduate school and needed some form of gainful employment in the interim. Texas had recently instituted liquor-by-drink on a local option basis and Austin, the state capital, was at the front of the line. Prior, one had to be a member of a private club to enjoy the arts of mixology, even if only by a temporary membership on the nightstand in your hotel room. The bartenders in these shadow bars were almost invariably black. But with the sudden legalization demand far outstriped supply and bartending schools started to pop-up everywhere. With nothing better to do, I paid my fee and delved into the arcane art.

One of my first gigs was at a prestigious steak house owned by the mayor. All of the kitchen staff was black. This included the head chef, The Reverend (actual ordained clergy with a congregation) who answered any and all queries with, "COOKING!". The assistant manager and my immediate supervisor was Lonnie Melton, also black. He had been a bartender for a number of years pre-landrush and took special interest in my job. He also taught me the basics of being a sommelier.

One day Lonnie asked me if I would like to meet the person who taught him to bartend. Of course I said yes. We met at a small Greek restaurant downtown, Mama Elena's. This was not some faux operation. More than once when I dined there Mama would sit down in a chair in the dining area and begin to snap beans or shell peas. Lonnie's mentor was a distinguished black gentleman, graying at the temples. I can't remember his name unfortunately. Drinks were on the house. At the time I was a fan of CC and soda with a twist. Stories, recipes and insights were swapped back and forth for several hours, although I mostly just listened. Not only was I white but also exceedingly green.

Several years later I took a date to Mama Elena's and by the time we were seated there was a mysterious CC and soda with a twist at my elbow...
posted by jim in austin at 6:23 PM on May 30, 2021 [11 favorites]

Anne R. Davidow
"Although she lost the case, (Goesaert v. Cleary) her argument drew much attention and shortly thereafter the Michigan State Legislature repealed the law. Loss of the case became a key element in Congresswoman Martha Griffiths argument for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. This case is now included in the curriculum of law schools across the country."
posted by clavdivs at 7:56 PM on May 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Boy, the last paragraph of Wondrich's piece.
posted by fedward at 8:37 PM on May 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

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