Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The State Hotel

My wife and I had a busy social life, including many wild nights at the State Hotel, a Maine Street sleaze joint for NASB and locals where few Bowdoin students dared go, but Peter and Eunice Cox, along with budding novelist Harris Dulaney and his wife Barry, did. 

Harris and Barry were another matching couple, through whom we got to know noted Berwick artist DeWitt Hardy and his wife Patty. We all took a trip to New York City, a pilgrimage to 15-cent beers at McSorley’s, and to attend an art opening for a Greek photographer. On our way we drove past a bar advertising the Velvet Underground, but Harris was not interested in “hippie bullshit.” His gritty novel Falling, about a Maine boxer, was finally published years later, but we read the MS first in the Brooklyn brownstone they moved into after we all left Brunswick. Recently I found a copy on eBay, but Harris does not Google.

The State Hotel, on the site of the present Northeast Bank, was considered a dangerous place by college students. Murders and whores. But Harris and Barry -- or was it the Coxes? -- overcame our hesitation. 

We were Pickett fans and there hadn’t been any murders lately. So we became regulars, and for the first time mixed socially with black people. We made our first black friends at the State Hotel.

The music was great, classic soul delivered by The Fat and The Cat, organist Paul and drummer Bob Eli, who became a casual buddy. 

The two of them sounded like Jimmy Smith and Gene Krupa. Close your eyes and you’d swear there was a bass player, but open them and there were Paul’s stockinged feet dancing on the foot pedals of his hulking Hammond B3. Sit-ins were welcome, frequent and sometimes famous, such as Maynard Ferguson’s trumpet player.

Al Everett was a frequent guest singer. No one was sitting when he punched out "Funky Broadway." Al also became a friend, my first black friend. 

1 comment:

  1. thanks for this. i worked there as well as my daughters father Bill Conway who had a band there. I really don't think it was sleazy or attracted whores and murders. i met my ex-husband there also who was a member of the Navy. Many Airforce men also were there. It was no worse than the Heathwood, Green Door, Boulevard, Maine Hotel, Fort George or any other place to go to. Fights always happen in those places as well as today. Good owners with good rules are what was needed there. I will leave that subject alone. It was great to see Bob Elie and the others. I sure had lots of fun in that place