Pages Past Tense #6

By Charles Alexander

Parting Glances

I was 19 the summer I graduated from Cass Tech. I flunked courses, staying an extra two-class semester. Once free from studies, living at home, taking time off before job hunting, I was keen to explore Detroit's gay scene.

I weighed 175 lbs., buff in my penny loafers, was 6' 2", had a 30-inch, bona fide Levi's waist. I was told I looked like actors Carleton Carpenter and Troy Donahue. (See photo above.)

I heard from queer friends about the infamous Hub Grill, located on Farmer at Bates, inconveniently within a short trek of the 1st Police Precinct Headquarters, Wayne County Circuit Court, Old City Hall.

The Hub Grill was a greasy spoon (knife and fork) with large windows, angled on the corner. To enter was to be self-identified as a fairy. To stool sit in sight was thumb-your-nose-at-straight-tourists brazen. Nearby was a flea bag hotel. For ten bucks you could have a squeaky-bed quickie.

"Let's go to the Hub for a bowl of chili and a trick," was our weekend quip. Two sisters, Fran and Flo, a scruffy cook, Uncle Jimmy, held bicarbonate-of-soda court. Fran rarely smiled, smoked nonstop. Flo, her hair worn in 1940s upsweep, was all winks, confidential tease: "Miss Thing, don't you look all Hollywood. You gonna snag husband number five tonight, or is it six?"

I hadn't sat down five minutes (far from outside viewing), when a talkative number - he called himself Marshmallow - asked, "Are you a Browning King or Queen?" Not knowing what he meant, and wanting to be polite, I answered, "Is there such a thing as a Browning Prince?" "How about Princess?" he clucked, daintly sipping a cherry Coke.

A jukebox took up a far corner. Six plays for a quarter. Whenever someone chose my favorite Doris Day song, "Secret Love," from the movie Calamity Jane, I let myself go hormonally romantic. Soft in the head and heart for an as-yet-unidentified shining knight in tight-fitting armor (codpiece optional).

After several weekend trysts I got to know the regulars by face and nickname. (Nicknames were protection against "known homosexual" exposure or, as sometimes labeled in Confidential magazine, "avowed homosexual" status.)

Many regulars gave themselves the honorific title of Miss. As high campy, swishy gays, a few merited it. They took the brunt of ostracism, both straight and gay.

I mooned over Rich, a blond stud - nicknamed PK, Polish Kielbasa - who wore high-collar, pastel Mr. B shirts (B for black singer Billy Eckstine), 13-inch peg pants. He combed his hair in a pomaded ducktail. He was usually with a stylish brunette, Sharon, her thirties-something sister, who called herself Big Mamoo.

It was the custom summer nights to cruise onto the crowded streets to watch who paraded in and out of the gay bars: The 1011 (formerly the Rio Grande), Silver Dollar, LaRosa's.

I had heard about LaRosa's when I was 15. "It's a fairy bar," snickered a buddy one Halloween when we spotted skag drags getting into a Checker Cab. Curiously, I never once set foot in the place. A half-century later, the building's still there. Without an Historic Marker.

Charles@pridesource.com

MI Marriage Trial

Michigan Same Sex Couples Demand Respect And Equal Treatment

Michigan Leaders React To Feds Recognition Of Marriages

MI Marriage: Schuette Asks For Full Appeals Court Review

The Stay Delayed Allows 315 Couples To Wed In State

Gay Marriage Defines Schuette's Reelection Campaign

Snyder Says Schuette Going Against Trend

Sixth Circuit Continues Stay

Michigan Marriage Ban Struck Down

Michigan Makes History With First Marriages

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Aappeal

Pictures from Ingham County - Getting Married

Pictures from Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 1

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's office - Part 2

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 3

Pictures from Washtenaw County

White Nationalist Group Files Brief Supporting AG's Appeal In Marriage Ruling

Discredited Witness Part Of Right-Wing Cabal

Schauer Celebrates Overturn Of Michigan Marriage Ban

Equality Michigan Circulating Petition to Drop Appeal

Why Are Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette Wasting Michigan Taxpayer Dollars On A Costly Appeal?

Michigan Marriage Ban Co-Author Goes 'Moral'

BTL's Wedding Expo: Like Pride in April

Snyder Says Marriages Invalid

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Appeal

Request To Remove Stay Based On Process And Substance

Schuette Lies To Satisfy Political Base

DOCUMENTS: The decision, the stay, and more

BREAKING: Holder Asked To Recognize Michigan Marriages

Michigan Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

BREAKING: Sixth Circuit Court Of Appeals Issues Temporary Stay On Michigan Case

BREAKING: Same-Sex Couples Across Michigan Get Hitched

BREAKING: Judge Friedman Declares Michigan's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Judge Could Rule Late Today In Mich. Marriage Ban

Michigan Marriage Trial: And Now We Wait

Editor's Viewpoint: Our Long Journey To Justice

Federal Marriage Case Decisions Outside Michigan In Circuit Court of Appeals

Peers Distance Themselves As Regnerus Takes The Stand

Marriage Supporters, Protestors Brave Cold At Courthouse

Highlights From Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Hearing

Brown Says Schuette Instructed Clerks To Defy Court

Michigan Marriage Equality Trial Begins Second Week

Marriage Equality Trial Opens : Science v. Fear

Michigan Marriage Center Prepares State For The Possibility!

Michigan Marriage Case Begins

A Trial Full of Experts: Incredible and Not So Credible, In Hazel Park Case

like us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on google+