Friday, March 25, 2011

Betty's CB

Former Betty's CB
Betty's CB

Location: Corner of California and Shanandoah, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Opened: 1951

Closed: 1970s

In the course of looking for material for Lost Womyn's Space, I discovered the St. Louis Lesbian History blog, which includes lot of photos and oral histories about lesbian bars in St. Louis, Missouri. Sharon has done an amazing job of compiling some very interesting stuff, and I highly recommend you check out her work.

One of Sharon's interviews involves a woman named Betty, who was born in 1936 and entered the St. Louis lesbian bar scene while still a teen. Because of the hostile relationship that existed between the gay community and the police during those years, Betty (a self-identified butch) was arrested for "4-5 times" for "impersonating a man." And because she often dated prostitutes--which was common in the St. Louis butch-femme scene of the time--she also got charged with prostitution and subjected to mandatory penicillin shots. Betty provided Sharon with a tour of where all the old lesbian bars were in St. Louis. I thought this anecdote was particularly interesting:

Betty's CB was the first lesbian bar that she ever went to and on her very first visit, it was raided. Some older lesbians pushed her out the back window and that time, she escaped arrest. That was particularly fortunate, since she was underage.

Sharon goes on to explain that Betty's CB was a "no touch bar" that stayed open until the 1970s. Way back when, there were three lesbian bars at the same intersection of California and Shanandoah: Betty's CB, Pat's Palace, and one other place that nobody seems to recall the name of.

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