Sunday, September 22, 2013

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

Me - bar scene - Philadelphia - 1980

Here I am, sitting at my computer at 9:40 pm this Saturday night.  Back "in the day" when I lived in center city Philadelphia (1969 to 1980) I would be getting ready to hit the bars.  Those days are long gone (thankfully).  I remember the last time I was in a bar (gay).  It was my birthday, November 9th, 1979.  I was still hanging around the bar (no birthday luck that night) at 1:55 am which the bartender flashed the lights on and off and hollered "LAST CALL!"  Hey folks, if you were a regular bar goer like I was in my flaming wasted youth, if you were still in the bar when those lights flashed on and "LAST CALL" rang out, you.were.a.LOSER.  That's when I took stock of myself and said "Self, what are you doing here?"

Me, "slightly" inebriated - on Halloween night 1980 - double exposure (I'm also on the bottom right)

Yes folks, that was the night I decided never again to spend my Saturday nights trolling the gay bars. Oh sure, I had my regular coterie of buddies.  And every now and then I would score (Bill and I had and have an open relationship - get over it) but mostly going "out to the bars" was part of my social life.  But at 38 years old I knew my time was up.  No regrets, no "I'm too old" stuff.  I was just tired of the whole scene, ready to move on to something else. 

Me, always popular with "the ladies" - 1980

That's when I decided to move from center city Philadelphia to the country, our 6.875 wooded paradise four miles outside of Downingtown Pennsylvania.  It took us about a year to sell our house in Philadelphia and move "to the country."  We lived in the country for 26 years until the time came again to make the move which is when I decided to move to Delaware, which is another whole story actually worthy of a book or a small novella but not one blog entry.

Our former home in Pennsylania

So what's my point tonight?  Well, I've decided to celebrate my 72nd birthday by spending the weekend in Philadelphia, PA.  I've already made my reservations at The Latham Hotel on 17th Street.  Oh how many times have I passed that hotel and always wanted to stay there.  Now I'm doing it, albeit with a 15% senior citizen discount (why not?)

The Latham Hotel, Philadelphia, PA
I did some checking around (on the Internet) and found that one of my hangouts, the Bike Stop, is still open so I'll drop in.  God, I remember when I was a youngster and I used to see old gay guys come in the bar and I thought "hope that's never me!"  Well folks, it's going to be me on my birthday weekend but I won't be trolling for a one night stand, that's for sure.  Just not interested.  However it will be nice to see old friends (if they're alive) again.

My old friend Ron Lord, owner of The Bike Stop

Dr. Spo will be in town that weekend.  Hopefully we can meet up and I can show him around some of my old haunts.  Maybe not.  However, I am looking forward to returning to the scene of the crime.  Should be interesting.


Jon said...

That sounds like a perfect way to celebrate your birthday! As always, I can relate to so much of your blog post.
My bar-hopping days in California were legendary. I get exhausted just thinking about them. If I didn't finally decide to leave L.A. I would have soon been dead (now I'm dying an agonizingly slow death in Texas, but what the hell.....).

By the way, I love the photo of your home in Pennsylvania.

Ron said...


We have a much in common during our "flaming" youth. Oh the tales I could tell and I survived. Tales that I don't dare tell in my blog (you understand I know). I wanted to celebrate my 69th birthday by returning to the scene of the crime but alas, I had no one to do it with. Same with my 70th and 71st birthday. However, this year I have a friend to accompany me. I don't fly solo any more.


Jon said...

It's much better to have a friend to go with than to fly solo.

I would LOVE to write everything about my wild Hollywood days but I would fatally shock most of my blog readers (which includes my relatives) - - so, I always reluctantly give the Disney version.

nitewrit said...


Hope you like the Latham. We stayed there a few times last decade and liked that hotel. It was very charming and quiet.

You know maybe one of these days we should take a ride around our own old haunts from our younger days. Let me know if you'd like to come up here and do that. We did something like it a almost 10 years ago. Might be fun.


Tony said...

Ron, there are many other ways to meet guys and/or socialize than going to bars. I have never been a huge bar goer here in L.A., but I find myself, at 51, going out more now, mostly to the scruffier bars where "men" hang out! It can be fun and sexy, without making me feel old or sleazy. I have met some good friends there. Funny that you decided to stop the bar scene in 1980, since we all know that was a turning point in the lives of gay men. To my knowledge, you have not written much on the "AIDS years" of the 80's and how you reacted to what was going on at that time. I would be curious to hear the story for a future post! Fortunate that you got out of town at that time, though.

Anonymous said...

Pretty awesome birthday, I'd say!

Peace <3

Jack said...


Like you I was in an open relationship, just didn't know it at the time. Anyway, I pretty much stopped going to the bars after I was in the "relationship" except when I went with my significant other. We were together from 1971 to about 1982. After that, I had lost my taste for going alone and by then my friends and I discovered New Hope and would trek up there just about every weekend for drinking and dancing. I rarely ever drove so I think I had good times back then, my memory was always sort of fuzzy, especially the afternoon after the morning I got home. Oh but they were good days though.

I would like to go back to Philly one more time just to see the sights and like you, visit some of the old haunts though most are gone now. Whether that actually happens will remain to be seen. It's on my bucket list but not close to the top.

An early happy birthday, mine is on October 3, I will be in Florida.


Roger said...

Sounds like it's going to be an enjoyable adventure for you.

pat888 said...


I wonder if the city has changed much since you've been there. Will you recognize it's soul. Anyone who's been away from Toronto for even just 5 years would be surprised at all the differences. It's been going on like that for almost 20 years. Huge development evolution. Buildings have come and gone. But I guess there are landmarks and neighbourhoods which remain in tact. I know you'll have a great 72nd!!


Ron said...

This is something I've been wanting to do for years Jay! Just didn't want to do it by myself.


Ron said...


I always wanted to stay at the Latham, especially after hearing of your stay the last time. For many years I used to walk by the Latham on my way to and from work. I often thought "Someday I'll have to stay there."

By the way, excellent suggestion for taking a ride around to visit our old haunts from our younger days. I'll be in touch with you. We have to do this before we get our walkers.


Ron said...


Almost all of my trips in my younger days were solo and the ones that weren't ended up being that way anyway. This time a friend is going with me. A very special friend.

I understand completely about writing "everything" about our younger, wild days. Sometimes I have to questions myself "did I REALLY do that?" but hey, you know what it was like. Like you, I give my Disney version. Also like you I have a rather large nice lady following and I wouldn't want to shock them and some of my men followers to.


Ron said...


A lot has changed, more than I expected. Each year I visit Philadelphia during the Philadelphia Flower Show at the beginning of March. It's only a day visit so I don't have much time. This time I'll have three days to roam around. Plus I'm showing the city to a very special friend. I am very much looking forward to that weekend.


Ron said...


This is a sure thing, I will definitely have a good time rain or shine!


Ron said...


You bring up a very interesting point. Actually it was only a coincidence that I stopped going to bars in 1980. In retrospect I now realize that was the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. I remember at the time it was called "GRID" or Gay Related Immune Deficiency. Many thought it was caused by using poppers , which I did when I danced (not sex). You've given me a good idea for a future blog post which I think I will write about. You're right, it was the turning point in the lives of many gay men. Even though I didn't engage in unsafe sex (I did once in 1980 and that's all it too), I was very lucky to escape unscathed. However, many of my friends and others that I knew are long gone now. Long gone. Now I realize how lucky I was. I've been lucky most of my life.

When I did go to bars (actually only two main ones) I had my regular group of friends that I saw. It was sort of like a gay 'CHEERS" except for the occasional meet up.

Thanks again for the suggestion. I'll take you up on that.


Ron said...


Bill and I may have had an "open" relationship but it wasn't a "swinging from the chandeliers" type of relationship. I rarely made out. Our agreement (which we understood when Bill asked me to move in with him) was that jealousy would never play a part in our relationship. Neither one of us subscribes to the conventional "you mustn't look or even THINK about having sex with anyone else." Our understanding was that if we did meet someone we were discreet about it. And also, if we did meet someone that we felt we wanted to make a life with, then we would part. That applied to both of us. However, over the years I never met anyone nor did Bill that was as good to me as Bill. Were there times when it was a little shaky? Sure. But this is what worked for us. I don't necessarily advise this type of relationship for all couples. That is up to them. But Bill and I have never subscribed to someone else's definitions of anything, especially our relationship, much to the sometimes consternation of some of our friends.

I hope you're able to make it back to Philly sometime. I'm looking forward to my weekend. And an early happy birthday to you Jack.


Ur-spo said...

"slightly" ? you look stinko ! This is worth seeing again I hope so this november.

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