On Thursday, Ju…   Leave a comment

On Thursday, July 3, 1969, I flew to Memphis and by the time I was ready to leave on Sunday, July 6, I knew I would take Bernie up on his offer. Coming from New York I was overwhelmed by all the green, flowers, and the aroma from the latter making the city smell like a sweet, pleasant perfume. I also had the feeling that people were running behind the car picking any debris that anyone threw out of the car. The city was so clean! As we went past homes it looked like everyone got up early in the morning and mowed their lawns as they all look manicured.

Bernie and I drove all over Memphis from the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River in the west, though, and it always struck me funny, West Memphis was across the river and a city in Arkansas, to the east where Germantown was. Another funny thing was that the Jewish Community Center, with an Olympic swimming pool, was in Germantown which was home to a large Jewish population. I think what really endeared me to Memphis was hearing, “Have a good shabbos. y’awl.” I loved it!

By the time I arrived back in New York I was ready to say goodbye and make plans for my big move. At that time in my life I didn’t go back on my decisions so I was sort of taken aback when Bernie and I went out for dinner and he told me that his ex-wife and his daughters would be coming to Memphis for awhile as a ‘front’ for which she would be very well compensated. He went into a long story about it being the South, the ‘Bible Belt’, and that he felt if they knew we were gay it would be rough to get the business off the ground. He would be living with them while I would have a separate apartment a few blocks away. I joked that I felt just like Susan Hayward in “Back Street” but was serious that he had to know that I had been out of the closet all my life and I wasn’t about to go back in. He wasn’t too happy with that and I wasn’t too happy with his decision.

As I said previously the gang was against my going and when they heard this they told me that I would be stupid not to get everything in writing. Bernie moved to Memphis in August and wrote me letters talking about our future together and somehow those letters ‘disappeared’ a few years later as I didn’t give them to anyone to hold for me.

On July 20 the day a man walked on the moon, Addie, Joan, Bernie and I went out for lunch and that evening Dick Hershey and Joe went to dinner with us and Bernie was on his way to Memphis. With Bernie gone, though he called me almost every day, I got together with Jim who I had met at the airport on the way to Memphis. On August 25 I started a job as a fill in bartender at The Brochatteria. With Bernie gone I was back to my old way of hopping from bed to bed, place to place. For Ronnie’s birthday a group of us went to Pier 52 for drinks, then the Spindletop and afterwards to the Chateau Madrid. I was getting busier with WW and introduced Jean Nidetch, my first time meeting her, at the Belmont and then a group of us went to eat at Finn ‘n Claw. It was then that I found out Jean never carried money! LOL

Lots of notes about eating  out in many places, going to Chinatown and then Fedoras, a lot of ‘got smashed’ notes aside from picking up this one and that one and bringing them home. On September 20, with Joan and Addie there, Bernie and I decided that I would move to Memphis on October 12, that I would visit the 3 classes he had started and that I could do as many classes as I wanted and I told him I was ready to work 7 days.

We celebrated Addie’s birthday on September 24 and a couple of days later Joan, Addie, Ronnie, Sheila, Cindy, Ryan, Ray and I went to the Top of The 666s and the Cattle Baron as a going away party for me. On October 5 we went for dinner at El Faro’s and guess who was there? Barbra Streisand!! Was she stalking ME? On the 8th I had dinner with Gene and Linda, then on the 11th, the night before I was leaving for Memphis, a group of us, including Addie, Joan, Ronnie and a few others whose names I don’t recognize went to see Morgana King at the Village Gate.

On October 12, 1969 I arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, to be greeted by Bernie, his ex and their daughters.



Posted July 3, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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