Tuesday, August 28, 2012

True Colors Bookstore

True Colors Bookstore (2011) Photographer: Ed Kohler
True Colors Bookstore

Location: 4755 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA - although it had been at several other locations over the years

Opened: 1970

Closed: February 2012

At the time she passed away, True Colors (formerly known as the Amazon Bookstore Cooperative till 2009) was the credited with being the oldest independent feminist bookstore in North America.

OutHistory has a great summation of the Cooperative's early years. Like nearly all feminist bookstores, the Cooperative was a major gathering space within the women's community, and supported local women artists and writers through exhibitions and readings.

True Colors owners
In its later years, the bookstore struggled in a changing economic, political, and technological climate. One major drain was a ten-year fight with Amazon.com over copyright infringment. The "settlement" was essentially a loss of the bookstore, which was forced to alter its name when it changed hands. This April 2009 interview with new owner Ruta Skujins explains a lot of the details.

Three years later, the bookstore was still struggling--and the tanking economy didn't help. Sales had dropped by half, even though the inventory had been expanded to include more children's books and books about spirituality. True Colors, according to Skujins, was nearly $25,000 in debt. It was hoped that a series of fundraisers or some sort of "angel investor" would save the bookstore.

But that didn't pan out, so the True Colors closed its doors for good in February 2012.

Here's something to mull over (and grieve). In 1994 there were over 120 feminist bookstores in the US and Canada, and now there are just 13.
unded in 1970, True Colors Bookstore (formerly Amazon Bookstore Cooperative) is the oldest independent feminist bookstore in North America. Our store offers products and services that foster the strength, wisdom, beauty and diversity of

Monday, August 27, 2012

Women-only trout stream

A Mistress of the Gentle Art
from A Woman's Trout Fishing in
Yellowstone Park (1897)

Women-Only Trout Stream

Location: Connecticut, USA

Opened/Closed: 1932

This definitely falls under the category of quirky uncategorized womyn's space.

From the Calgary Daily Herald, August 11, 1932:


HARTFORD, Conn., Aug. 11.--(AP)--Connecticut women are to have their own trout stream, from which husbands and brothers will be barred. Fish and Game Commissioner Thomas H. Beck on Wednesday announced the state department plans to lease a stream on which women exclusively may fish. 

"The ladies have taken an increased interest in practically all forms of outdoor sports," he said. "Connecticut has nearly 200 miles of state-leased trout streams for its sportsmen. Now we intent to do something for the anglerettes."

So far I have yet to find any additional information on whether the women-only trout stream was actually established, and if so, where it was located. If it was established, it would also be fascinating to know how "anglerettes" felt about it and whether it was a popular place for women to go. Did "anglerettes" lobby for their own fishing space, or was this an idea randomly devised by Mr. Beck?  Did this experiment last past 1932, and if so for how long? Lots of interesting questions....

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ruby Red's

Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on
Crown Street (1999)
Ruby Red's

Location: 273 Crown Street, Sydney, Australia

Opened: 1979

Closed: 1982

Dawn O'Donnell (1928-2007)
Ruby Red's is credited with being Sydney's first lesbian bar.

Rebecca Jennings in Lesbians in Sydney (2009) says this about Ruby Red's:

Perhaps the most popular lesbian bar of this period [i.e. the 1970s] was Dawn O'Donnell's  Ruby Red's on Crown Street. Described by a regular as 'good fun' and 'fairly dykey', Ruby Red's was frequently crowded after ten o'clock at night, with women buying drinks from the bar and others on the dance floor:

273 Crown Street today is a gay male bathhouse
and cruise bar called Headquarters
It was disco in the early part of the disco era and the changing colours in the dance floor and the strobe lighting and the mirror balls and all of those sort of things, which now are retro and they laugh at them, but it was fun.

And from the Sydney's Pride History Group:

A "girls only" venue.  Entry was up a very thin stairwell, thee [sic] was a bar straight ahead, then a dance floor and another bar out the back. Owned by Dawn O'Donnell and Roger Claude Tesseydre.

Dawn O'Donnell was a fascinating character--a nightclub owner, an activist, and even a professional speed skater. See her obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Today, the space formerly occupied by Ruby Red's is....wait for it...a gay male bathhouse and cruise bar called Headquarters.



Location: 200 East Washington Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Opened: November 1982

Closed: Around 2002?

From Don Schwamb, at the History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

Pulse Bar (2004)
Fannies was opened as a lesbian bar in November 1982 by Sharon Dixon (who had previously been a business partner in at least one other lesbian bar, the Sugar Shack).

Fannies is best known for its colorful and checkered history. Extremely popular with the lesbian crowd for many years, there were a few accidents and fires and a great deal of speculation about whether the owner was involved in one or more of them. The bar was closed several times for renovation after fires or other reasons, and on one occasion the owner was in jail far suspected arson.

In the early 2000's Fannies became more a mixed lesbian/gay bar, and in 2003 was renamed Pulse.

Sugar Shack

Sugar Shack advertisement (July 1976)
Sugar Shack

Location: 135 East National Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Opened: June 1976

Closed:  Around 1985

From Don Schwamb, at the History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

The Sugar Shack was opened in June, 1976 by JoAnn Kilsdonk, with business partner Sharon Dixon (who later opened Fannies).

Advertisements for The Sugar Shack (which first appeared in the July 1976 issue of the GPU News) advertised it as "A bar by and for women".

Cory Scott, the son of the owner, recalls working there as a boy, and attending Brewers games tailgate parties co-sponsored by Sugar Shack and The M&M Club (which opened within weeks of Sugar Shack).

The August 1976 issue of the local "GLIB Guide" describes the business as follows: "Women, women, women! And lots of room to mingle. By and for gay women."

The Sugar Shack was sold around 1985 to Dotie, who for a time reopened it as a lesbian bar named D.K.'s Tavern. But that was not to be; the business was sold once more in late 1987 to Al Thomas, who eventually reopened it as a men's gay bar, The Triangle, which was to survive at least 20 years

D.K.'s Tavern

D.K.'s Tavern advertisement (February 1988)
D.K.'s Tavern

Location: 135 East National Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Opened: Around 1984

Closed: June 1988

By Don Schwamb, at the History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

D.K.'s Tavern in Milwaukee was owned by Dotie, and for some years continued to be Milwaukee's premier lesbian bar, with a very popular following. (Since 1976 this same building had been the site of the Sugar Shack, also a very popular lesbian bar.) But business had been lagging, and in 1987 the business and building were put up for sale. On December 5, 1987, Dotie held a farewell party for customers and staff.
135 East National Avenue today--A Cardtronics ATM

On the very next night, the bar re-opened, and new owner Alan Thomas (formerly a resident of Kenosha who had bought the business and moved up to Milwaukee) declared it was "still a women's bar" and would retain the same staff and name. But within a few months business had shown that a change was needed; Al renamed the business The Triangle in June 1988 and reopened as a gay bar.

This transition from lesbian space to gay male space is extremely common among bars, particularly when the bar is no longer lesbian-owned or operated. The Triangle closed in April 2012. And now the location just spits out cash. Make of that what you will....

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hotel Rideau

Hotel Rideau, Smith Falls, Ontario (1910)
Hotel Rideau

Location: Main Street, Smith Falls, Ontario, Canada (or perhaps Jarvis Street in Toronto?)

Opened/Closed: "Ladies and Escorts Rooms" identified as lesbian space during the 1950s 

I'm a little perplexed as to whether I have the right Hotel Rideau (or Rideau Hotel) here. Historian Elise Chenier discusses the Rideau Hotel within the context of Jarvis Street in Toronto.

But there apparently never was a Rideau Hotel on Jarvis Street. Could she mean the Hotel Rideau in Smith Falls, Ontario?

At any rate, Chenier's description of the Rideau Hotel is a very exciting find for me.

I have long kept the definition of "womyn's space" pretty loose here, partly from a hunch I had that even the most conservative, upper-class, religious, or seemingly heterosexual women's space ultimately had significance in terms of women's autonomy--even if that wasn't its expressed intent.

In that spirit, I have posted on all kinds of ladies parlors, ladies cafes, ladies restaurants, ladies writing rooms, and other similarly segregated spaces that used to exist in conjuction with public spaces designed and operated largely for men, such as hotels. I had a feeling that these kinds of rooms, no matter how compromised, still created some kind of opening for women to form friendships, and yes, even intimate relationships and erotic connections with one another.

But I had no real proof of that.

Till now! From "Rethinking Class in Lesbian Bar Culture: Living 'The Gay Life' in Toronto, 1955-1965":

Up until the mid-1950s, lesbians were most likely to be found in public houses along Jarvis Street. The Rideau Hotel was one of the more popular, perhaps because it had one of the few remaining "ladies only" rooms. In an effort to prevent sexual immorality (and appease temperance advocates), Ontario liquor licensing laws required that public houses thwart heterosexual contact between strangers by providing at least two physically separate rooms: one for men only, and the other for women. Up until the early 1970s when feminists launched a successful campaign against such forms of segregation, men could gain access to what were called "ladies and escorts rooms" only by entering with a woman. The Rideau's "women only" room made it particularly well suited to
gay women's social needs. Not only did it allow them space to socialize with each other, but it also shielded them from heterosexual advances and male antagonism.

Here we see the Law of Unintended Consequences working two ways.

One, when religious temperance crusaders pushed for the creation of ladies salons, their intent was to  protect women's virtue by restricting their access to men and men's access to them. In time, what they actually did was carve out public space where lesbians could find each other with minimal male harrassment.

Two, when 1970s feminists railed against sex discrimination in public accomodations, they (inadvertently?) destroyed--or at least deeply compromised--the ability of lesbians to legally gather in a public space without the presence of men.

Lesson? Be very careful what policies you advocate for and who you define as your political allies.

Continental Hotel

Continental House (1972)

Continental Hotel (Continental House)

Location: Bay and Dundas Streets, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 

Opened/Closed: 1950s/60s

From "Rethinking Class in Lesbian Bar Culture: Living the 'Gay Life' in Toronto, 1955-1965" by Elise Chenier: 

When Joji Hazel came to Toronto in the early 1960s, her search for a gay women's bar landed her at the Continental Hotel, a public house long considered home to local bar-going lesbians.' Hazel lived in a small town one hundred miles outside the city, and what she knew of lesbian bars was gleaned from pulp fiction novels and The Ladder, a magazine published by the Daughters of Bilitis, a San Francisco-based lesbian organization, where the evils and merits of lesbian bars and butch and fem 'roles' were the subject of regular debate. Hazel claims that she felt well prepared for what she would find, but as she stood before the "dingy building" located in "a seedy section of Chinatown, noted for prostitution and narcotics," she almost lost her nerve.

Had Hazel never read about lesbian bars, she probably would have been struck by the tough masculine demeanour of many of the women inside. She might have been put off by the constant stream of sex trade workers and johns moving in and out of the ladies' and escorts' room. But after three hours of careful observation, what took her by surprise was how the gay women inside were segregated into two distinct groups. They are "stalwarts from two differentworlds," she explained in a short article published in The Ladder in 1963. "One . . . was condescending and at times a little jeering; the other was brash, defiant, puzzlingly defensive . . . . A line might have been drawn on the floor, so divisible were the players." Significantly, Hazel knew exactly where she stood, or more precisely, sat. Her description of "brash" butches at the Continental was unequivocally critical; presumably why some women might jeer at them needed no explanation.

Read the rest here.

Club Northwest

Dr. Ann Bussey in front of the former Club Northwest (2012)
Club Northwest

Location: 217 Northwest 4th Avenue, Portland, Oregon, USA

Opened/Closed: ?

Most of what I know about Club Northwest comes from a June 2012 "Queer" walking tour of Portland, Oregon.

This is what we're told of Club Northwest:

Ann Mussey, a professor of women, gender and sexuality studies at Portland State University, spoke about the history of lesbians in Portland. When Club Northwest became Magic Gardens, Mussey said, lesbians congregated at the Rising Moon on Burnside. “The lesbian community could never support more than one bar at a time,” she said. Because of persistent income inequality, she said, “men have more money to spend on entertainment. There’s also a history of public culture for men that only recently developed for women.” The lesbian scene, she said, had multiple centers, with house parties, book stores, and sports fields playing a role. “If you want to talk about lesbian history,” Mussey said, “it’s not in a location.”

Well, this is true as far as it goes. But apart from the obvious fact of persistent income inequality, Mussey says little here about how or why lesbians have trouble holding on to their own territory. True, "lesbian space" is generally not in a single, identifiable, permanent location. It floats, it moves, it shifts. Yup, true enough. Unfortunately, this observation is typically left in the form of an observation. Or it's claimed--with no real evidence--that "floating" space is some sort of innate lesbian preference. Very seldom do we see a political analysis of why this is so, as to why lesbians--and women in general--face real and genuine barriers when it comes to owning, managing, and maintaining public space by women and for women. And that these barriers persist with a remarkable consistency across time and geography under conditions of male domination.

Magic Garden - Portland, Oregon

And notice that nothing is said here about the Magic Gardens which replaced Club Northwest.  Magic Garden is a strip club. I know, because I looked it up. By definition, the purpose of a strip club is to exploit women for the entertainment and financial profit of men. But in a "queer" sex positive sort of tour we wouldn't want to make our "allies" uncomfortable by bringing that up, would we.

Here at Lost Womyn's Space, we've posted on over 150 lost lesbian bars. And it's remarkable how many of these former womyn's spaces are quickly recolonized as intentional male space--whether it be as a gay male bar or strip club for heterosexual men. It's as if patriarchy itself must reassert (reinsert?) itself in a particularly dramatic and definitive way in a former womyn's space, as if a former lesbian bar must be visibly purged it of its symbolic power and authority.

But none of this ever gets brought up within a GLBT context. In fact, you typically have to patiently listen for a very long to find out anything about lesbian history in a GLBT history tour. (This was true of the one I went on last fall as well. When I brought up some specific former lesbian bars in Kansas City, the tour guide, who was "generally" quite knowledgeable, didn't even know where they were located.)

If you go to the link above regarding this walking tour, you'll find one paragraph on lesbian space. One paragraph. Buried about two-thirds of the way down. The rest of the writing is concerned with males--gay men, drag queens, and cross-dressers. But you probably knew that....

The Off Key

The Off Key (1994)
The Off Key

Location: West Sacramento, California, USA

Opened/Closed: early 1970s

I don't know a lot about The Off Key, other than what's mentioned in a short piece on the history of gay Sacramento.

According to Cherie Gordon, “Sacramento’s lesbian bar history is rooted in West Sacramento since the Sacramento Police Department prevented any women’s bars being established on civilized ground”. That's why lesbian bars from the 1960s and 1970s like The Off Key and Jacquette's were always located in West Sacramento and not within Sacramento intself.

Regarding the photograph above (which was apparently taken as part of a 1994 Off Key reunion), we're told the following:

Although the lone blue light is no longer there, the building remains today facing the railroad tracks in West Sacramento.

A fitting description for a lost womyn's space with a very poetical name....

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Rikki Streicher (on left) at the Clairmont Hotel,
Oakland California (1945)

Location: San Francisco, California, USA

Opened: 1978

Closed: ?

In surfing around the Internet, I realized that Rikki Streicher died 18 years ago this month. Hard to believe she has been gone that long.

Rikki was a pioneer in San Francisco's gay civil rights movement. She was perhaps best known as the owner of Maud's, which is generally credited with being one of the longest running lesbian bars in the United States (1966-1989). Maud's later became pretty famous, largely through the acclaimed 1993 documentary, Last Call At Maud's (here's a clip).

Turns out Rikki had a second bar, but there is very little information on it. At least readily available information. That was Amanda's, which we are told was a "lesbian dance club" that opened in 1978. And honestly, that's all I can find. Anybody remember this place? Where it was located? Anything about it?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lost Women's Colleges of North Carolina

Elizabeth College (1897-1921)
Rather than list all these colleges myself, I'm going to refer you to a very comprehensive summary,  North Carolina Women's Colleges, by Jennifer Davison and Jaime Huaman.

This is one fact that stood out for me, which is the high attrition rate for women's colleges in North Carolina (and for womyn's spaces in general):

Since 1772, twenty-eight women’s schools have been established in North Carolina. Many no longer exist, or have become coeducational. Currently there are four women’s colleges in North Carolina: Bennett College for Women, Meredith College, Peace College, and Salem College.

So what we have here is an overall women's college survival rate of 14 percent.

Let that sink in.

Fourteen bloody percent.

Here's another way to put that number in context, which is how many colleges and universities there currently are in North Carolina. Here's the answer: 16 institutions in the North Carolina public university system, 35 private colleges and universities, and a huge number of community colleges.  

Out of all these, just four are for women only. Just four.

Oops, make that three. Peace College started admitting men this fall.

Sadly, that's actually a somewhat impressive figure, since a lot of states (like Kansas) no longer have any women's colleges at all.

Kind of gives some context for all the ongoing efforts to force women's colleges to admit men or retain "male-identified" females. It's sort of like being on a nearly empty bus, but the creepy dude who just boarded insists on sitting next to you anyway.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Kidd-Key College and Conservatory

The Chapel, Key-Kidd College
Kidd-Key College and Conservatory

Location: Sherman, Texas, USA

Opened: 1874, as North Texas Female College

Closed: 1935

Notice how this college was nearly destroyed by a series of incompetent male administrators before Lucy Kidd-Key took over, who was obviously quite capable (though very strict).

It's common for any women's college that specialized in the fine arts to be stereotyped as a finishing school for lady-like and decorative young women. But we know of at least two graduates who shattered that image: "Billy" and "Curley" Seale, who ran an all-women ranch in Baird, Texas. "Billy" was a visual artist, and "Curley" was a musician (piano).

From the Texas State Historical Association:

Kidd-Key College at Sherman was founded in the late 1860s under the name Sherman Male and Female High School by Rev. William R. Petty, under the patronage of the North Texas Methodist Conference. In 1870 the trustees appointed by the conference bought land and built a two-story structure for the school, to which it moved from rented quarters in the Odd Fellows Hall. J. C. Parks succeeded Petty in 1872, and the following year the North Texas Conference acquired the deed to the school and began planning its change to a women's college. The institution formally became North Texas Female College in the fall of 1874. Presidents after Parks were W. I. Cowles, James Reid Cole, J. C. Parham, E. D. Pitts, and I. M. Onins. By 1886, however, the school suffered from a lack of administrative stability and was plagued by debts .
Lucy Ann Thornton Kidd-Key

Two years later Bishop G. D. Galloway persuaded a stalwart widow, Lucy Ann Thornton Kidd, who was teaching at Whitworth College in Brookhaven, Mississippi, to move to Texas and head the school. She set about her task immediately, and North Texas Female College began its school year in September 1888 with 100 students. From the beginning Mrs. Kidd's curriculum emphasized the fine arts, especially music. Upon her marriage to Bishop Joseph S. Key in 1892, she became Lucy Ann Kidd-Key, and the school became North Texas Female College and Conservatory of Music. The college eventually grew to include seven brick buildings, several cottages, and a gymnasium, after taking over the property of Mary Nash College (across the street) in 1905. Peak enrollments of more than 500 were reached before World War I. By 1910 the school owned 120 pianos and had a library of more than 1,000 volumes.

The conservatory was Mrs. Kidd-Key's primary interest. By hiring prominent teachers from Europe she extended the reputation of the school far beyond Sherman and built a music school of solid quality. Her most important appointment was that of Paul Harold von Mickwitz as head of the conservatory in 1897. Mickwitz, a Finnish pianist, was trained in Russia and Austria by Theodor Leschetizky. Other important teachers brought to the conservatory were pianists Frank Renard, Hans Rischard, Pettis Pipes, and Bomar Cramer; singer Louis Versel; and violinists Jacob Schreiner and Carl Venth. The school gave artist diplomas in music and the bachelor of music degree.

By the eve of World War I, Mrs. Kidd-Key's policy of off-campus chaperonage, compulsory church attendance, and strict regulations regarding dress and ladylike demeanor appealed to fewer and fewer students and parents. The steady decline in enrollment was exacerbated by hard economic times and the opening of Southern Methodist University in 1915, with the consequent reduction of Methodist support for smaller schools. The college made several attempts at self-preservation. In 1917 it joined the Association of Texas Colleges as a first-class junior college, from which credit could be transferred to upper-level institutions. Although it had long been called by the name informally, North Texas Female College officially became Kidd-Key College and Conservatory in 1919, three years after Mrs. Kidd-Key's death.

Two students at Kidd-Key College (early 1900s)
Edwin Kidd succeeded his mother as president and served until 1923, when E. L. Spurlock took on the duties. When, in 1928, ill health forced Spurlock to resign, Kidd resumed the presidency with reluctance and made a last attempt at expanding the college. Despite a new administration building and auditorium, completely refurbished facilities, and heavy expenditures for new furniture, equipment, and landscaping, enrollments failed to rise. In 1930 Kidd-Key and neighboring Austin College attempted to weather the deepening depression by coordinating programs and sharing facilities. Kidd-Key eliminated its junior college and taught only home economics, religion, fine arts, and women's physical education. The cooperative venture prolonged the institution's existence by a few years, but complete withdrawal of Methodist support forced the college to close in 1935. The property reverted to creditors and was later sold to the city of Sherman in 1937 as a site for a municipal center. Nothing remains of the original buildings. A Texas Historical Marker commemorating the college was erected in 1967.

A complete history of the school is here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Seale Ranch

Miss Curley Seale on a pitching steer - Brownwood Rodeo
(July 1920)
Seale Ranch

Location: Baird, Texas, USA

Opened: 1918

Closed: 1950s? Later?

Another one of those fascinating accidental finds. From the Spokane Daily Chronicle, July 31, 1925:

Wear Trousers and Don't Allow a Man on the Place at All

At Baird, on the plains of west Texas, there's a 3,000-acre ranch run entirely by two girls, "Bill" Seale, 26, and her sister, "Curley," 24. No mere man is allowed to clutter up the premises. No cowboys ride the range. The only men ever seen about the place are fence builders and wood cutters whom the girls find it necessary to employ occasionally, says The Los Angeles Times.

Waiting their turn to ride - Brownwood Rodeo (July 1920)
Billy Seale is the first rider on the fence, and Curley Seale is the third

It was in 1918, after the death of their father, C. C. Seale, banker and ranchman of this section, that his two younger daughters conceived the idea of managing this property alone. An older sister assists in the housekeeping. Their mother died in 1914.

While this ranch is a small piece of property as ranches are considered in Texas, nevertheless it was a pretty big proposition for two girls to tackle. It is not of necessity that the Seale sisters perform the arduous labor connected with the successful management of the ranch.

Their father was president of the Home National Bank of Baird at the time of his death. Among other property, he owned a 14,000-acre well stocked ranch and it is a part of this estate that is now under the direct supervision of the two girls.

It is the avowed purpose of these Texas girls to perpetuate the spirit and ideals of the frontier days of the old west. No horse is too wild for Bill and Curley to break. Busting broncos is one of their specialties, and the tackle the animals in true Buffalo Bill style. When it comes to roping cattle, the most expert lariat thrower has nothing on them. Riding herds, branding cattle and rounding up steers are all in the days work for these young women.

Wear Trousers.

The girls wear male attire. Their usual costume consists of trousers, boots, shirt, six-gallon hat and big red bandanna. Their boots are made to order, plain but durable. From each pair of trim heels comes the jingle of silver spurs. They present a striking and attractive appearance, both girls being extremely good looking. Even with their boy-cut bobs belong to the "weaker" sex.

When it comes to culture let it be known that these ranch girls are college bred. After graduating from Baird high school they attended Kidd-Key college in Sherman. [Note: Kidd-Key College is a former women's college and another lost womyn's space.] Bill specialized in art and has quite a local reputation as an artist.

Music attracted Curley, and in the study of the piano she made an enviable record during her college days.

Training polo ponies is one of the occupations of Bill and Curley Seale. The noted polo pony Buster Brown was trained by their father, who taught them the art of training ponies for this sport. At the present time the girls have several colts in their stables which are now in training for polo. In this connection in may be of interest to many to know that Glory, a pony that became nationally famous at the Bryn Mawr games a year ago, was trained by these two Texas girls. The animal brought them the sum of $2500.

I don't know much else about these women's lives other than a few random facts about Curley from some old Abilene, Texas newspapers.

As late as July 1939, Curley was still competing in rodeo events. She won the flag race for women at the annual Coleman Rodeo in Coleman, Texas.

In May 1951, Curley Seale led the gala parade for the Callahan County Sheriff's Posse Rodeo at Baird. At that time, she was still identified as a "ranchwoman."

Of course, all this is just scratching the surface. Sounds like another one of those fascinating research projects I'll be adding to the pile of Things I'll Get To One Day.

Mary Connor Female College

Mary Connor Female College (c. 1907)
Mary Connor Female College

Location: Paris, Texas, USA

Opened/Closed: Early 1900s?

There is very little information readily available on Mary Connor Female College.

It's listed in Patterson's College and School Directory of the United States for the years between 1904 and 1908. But there are no descriptions of the college.

By the way, in case you're wondering, this is what's handwritten on the front of the postcard:

"Feb. 18-07. Wonder how long it will be before my baby will be going to this school. Auntie Rosa."

So it appears that Mary Connor inspired great loyalty and affection for as long as she existed--however long she existed. This is very typically seen in girl's schools and women's colleges.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Carr-Burdette College

Carr-Burdette College (1904)
Carr-Burdette College

Location: Sherman, Texas, USA

Opened: 1894

Closed: 1929

Mattie Carr - Founder and First President 
of Carr-Burdette College (1904)
Carr-Burdette College was a preparatory school and junior college for women. The founders of the school were O. A. and Mattie F. (Myers) Carr. After missionary work in Australia and administrative duties in Kentucky and Missouri, the Carrs moved to Sherman in the early 1890s. The rapid growth of the North Texas area, partly a result of the emerging agribusiness centers Denison and Sherman convinced the Carrs that a preparatory school for young women was needed.

Mattie financed the construction of a large brick building by selling 250 lots at $200 each in Sherman. The "Girls' Home," as Carr called it, sat on an eight-acre campus. The Carrs planned to leave the institution to the Christian Church at Sherman. The college opened in 1894, and for the next fourteen years Mattie Carr directed its development.

The school consisted of a two and a half story brick building on an eight-acre campus.  The first floor was for the "parlors" of the school, the living quarters of Mr. and Mrs. Carr and the dining rooms and kitchen.

The third floor was occupied by the department of music, art and "elocution," and the second floor was used as a dormitory for the girls.

The first catalogue of the college was published in 1894-95 and was entitled "Carr-Burdette Christian College, a Home and School for Girls!" 

The catalogue contained information about the eight-acre campus and the number of fruit trees and raspberry, blackberry and grapevines on the tract.

It described the garden of the school a short distance from the campus that would supply the summer and fall vegetables for the college tables.

In the same description, it said; "Next year we hope to have a poultry yard to supply the college with chickens and eggs and if 15 good brethren will each donate a cow to the college, they will recognize when they visit us that our table fare is above that of the average boarding school."
After Mattie Carr's death in 1907 the Christian Church in Sherman took control of the administrative duties. O. A. Carr died in 1913. During the next sixteen years the enrollment and finances of Carr-Burdette College peaked, stabilized, and then began a slow decline. In 1929 the institution closed. In April 1939 the property was sold, and the two brick buildings were razed.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Paper Doll Club

Paper Doll Club - from the film "The Sniper" (1952)
Paper Doll Club

Location: 524 Union Street, San Francisco, California, USA

Opened: 1940s

Closed: 1961

The Paper Doll Club was a popular North Beach / Telegraph Hill watering hole for many decades. In recent year, it has gone through through several name changes:  524 Club, Russo's, Cadell Place, Silhouettes and most recently The Field Restaurant & Pub. 

But in the 1950s, the Paper Doll had a reputation as a gay bar, and more specifically as a lesbian bar, at least for a time.

The bar has been around since at least 1945 (and probably much earlier than that), as it is listed in the San Francisco City Directory for that year.

Film makers used the bar as "noirish" scenery in The Sniper (1952).

We know that it the Paper Doll was still operating under that name in 1956, as the Oakland Tribune reports that it was robbed under that name in August.
524 Union Street today

In fact, it's even listed in the 1960 City Directory, which means the Paper Doll had quite a long lifetime, especially for a bar.

The Paper Doll also gets a mention in Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965. Nan Alamila Boyd states that it was open from the 1940s to 1961.

Dick Boyd at Lost SF says the following about the Paper Doll:

The Paper Doll, 1949 to 1961

Located on Cadell Place just off Union was a gay bar/restaurant. It was owned by New Pisa restaurant owner and North Beach baseball legend Dante Benedetti. I lived around the corner on Grant and ate there frequently. The food was excellent. You could get a steak with all the trimmings for $1.65. I could even afford to tip at those prices. In the late 1950’s and early 60’s the Paper Doll held Halloween parties overflowing down Union and up to Grant. There was a contest held for the best costume and drag queens came from as far away as New York to compete for the crown. Dante got busted in the same purge of gay bars as Tommy Vasu. He pursued appeals but finally lost the battle in 1961. Later the place became the Manhattan Towers, owned by Katherine James, and leaned more towards a lesbian pick-up place.