Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Central West End


This is a photo of my band Jon Cotton in 1973. I was 15 and just coming into my own as a young adult. The guy with his head in the bass drum is John. His sister Lora has been mentioned earlier. If you live in St. Louis you know John as the head of one of our town’s biggest real estate developers. John’s had an interesting life and I might go into what little I know of it some day. Dom and Ben are also pictured. They’re still part of my life and I’m sure there will be new stories yet with them.

I was living in the Central West End then. It hadn’t been gentrified yet and was what I imagined the Haight Ashbury scene was like. We had a lot of San Francisco transplants and a lot of West Enders moved back out there. There was a pretty openly gay community complete with a popular bar on the corner named the Potpourri. We had a head shop named The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari where you could get your drug paraphernalia. Before Duff’s opened it was a black magic shop with a pentagram painted on the floor. The neighborhood had a lot of witches and warlocks.

Duff’s acquired the space and Dominic got a job mopping up at the end of the night. Duff’s was only a single storefront then. When they added the storefront next door they got a dumb waiter so they could send dishes downstairs to a dish washer. Before this everything was done by hand in a sink.

Dominic took a vacation and got me to fill in for him. They weren’t sure what to call the position so they called me The Dominic. I was scrubbing a stove when I had my first encounter with my manager Vance. He was a long haired, bearded warlock crouched at the door pointing a huge knife at me. “Hey lover, how’d you like whisker burns on your butt hole?” he hissed.

Dominic told me the story of a large guy in a nun’s habit named Sister Benedict. He threw Dom over his shoulder, running down the alley with him as he kicked and cried. Sister Benedict turned out to be Bobby Udell, a cousin nobody told me about. We all became great friends.

There’s a lot more to come about the West End and Duff’s.

6 comments:

streetdown@aol.com said...

Happy Birthday! You should be getting your AARP in the mail shortly. John

Doggie said...

They've been sending me junk mail for a year. Tracy tells me he uses the card all the the time.

tonpatti said...

WHo's the other guy? He looks like Mort Hill's brother Jimmy.

Doggie said...

Man am I rude. Yep, that's Jimmy Hill. He got us to play a little jazz. We did a cover of Killer Joe. I remember the band climbed a backstop fence at a baseball field during a break to smoke a joint. I didn't smoke dope even then. Jimmy got mad at me because I was laughing harder than they were.

Anonymous said...

I've really enjoyed reading your blog entries. I've acquired a lot of info that you had not previously conveyed over the years.

You had so many after-the-fact horror stories, as well as many interesting and funny stories!

I remembered your telling me Bob Udell used the name Bobby Benedict but I didn't recall his using nun's clothing or the name Sister Benedict!

Your Mom

rico said...

well, i just read your whole blog from beginnging to end, it brings back a lot of memories. i left some comments in the earlier entries, noone will probably ever see them, but what the hell...