RARA-AVIS: Re: Atlanta's gutters

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 22 Jan 2003

In a message dated 1/22/03 4:01:18 AM Eastern Standard Time, Mark Sullivan writes:

 Richard, are you saying you weren't familiar with Atlanta's gutter at
 that time, either?
 Speaking of Atlanta, is Fred Willard working on a new book? His other
 two were great.

You know, one man's gutter is another man's garden. In point of fact, I doubt that any spot in 1970s Atlanta would equal the crack house gutters available today there and in any other US metro area.

Ralph Dennis often referred to the Clairmont Lounge by name, or more often, without naming it but identifying it for an Atlanta native like myself. This was a bar behind and beneath the Clairmont Hotel on Ponce de Leon Avenue. That's probably as close to the gutter as Ralph got and I will say that when I went there if someone had asked me, I might not have called it the gutter but would have said you could see the gutter from the bar at the Clairmont Lounge. I only went there because a friend worked there...well, it's too long a story. The Blue Lantern Lounge was another spot on Ponce where Blind Willie McTell wandered from car to car serenading lovers. He couldn't go inside because he was not white. He didn't miss much as the drinkers liked to heave empties twirling over their shoulders at or near a trash can. Across the street was a joint, I forget the name, in the basement of the Georgian Terrace Hotel which ended its days with the baseball pitcher Denny McLain (last 30 game winner) playing and singing at the piano bar. Shudder. He couldn't sing or play nearly as well as he pitched. And to think this was the hotel Clark Gable stayed at for the premier of "Gone With The Wind." Denny ended up in the pen on rackateering charges, got out and went back and is now scheduled for release in 2004.

At that time (the 70s) there would have been shot houses on Boulevard (Black) and in Cabbage Town (White) that would have been rougher than the Clairmont but I doubt Ralph made it to either. I didn't, although the first time someone pulled a gun on me in anger was in Cabbage Town, a community of shotgun houses near the Fulton Cotton Mills.

But all that is gentrified now. The Cotton Mills are gone and I wouldn't be surprised if the shotgun houses were now going for prices well into six figures. Certainly old Ponce is spucing up. I have never met Fred Willard but know and admire his work but his street is getting more gentrified every day.

I took my youngest daughter to Moe and Joe's last month as she is moving to Atlanta after she graduates from the University of Virginia. It hasn't changed since 1947 but it is the rarity. By the way, it is about two doors down from George's on North Highland Avenue where the wake was held for Ralph Dennis back in 1988.

And we are all flopping on the decade of the 50s month leaving room for me to ramble like this. I am trying to finish a Gil Brewer and a Stephen Marlowe but can't quite seem to get to them.

Richard Moore

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