Searching for pimentos on those dry Sundays

Having lived in Madison Park all these years, I can say that it is a fact that people change, friends and neighborhoods change and, thankfully, liquor laws change.

We were pretty much faithful to our pubs in the park. There was never a problem with a liquor law, unless you count the time one warm day during the summer of '49.

Bert Lundgren, owner of the Purple Poodle Tavern on the corner of 43rd Avenue and Madison Street, had a record day selling quarts of beer concealed in brown paper bags, which consumers enjoyed on the beach out of sight of the lifeguards. It was unwritten that if we did not try to save lives, the lifeguards would not drink our beer.

This record-sales day was phenomenal in Bert's mind. Patrons bought beer but, of course, did not remind Bert that it was Sunday, and it was illegal to sell beer on Sundays. Luckily, there weren't any liquor inspectors around that day.

Bly's Bounty Tavern, on North 45th Street and Stone Way, now long gone, was the site of a bar stool I half-sat on with one leg bent and was severely reprimanded for by the bartender. Apparently, the law stated both legs were to be bent and the hind end was to be planted firmly on the seat.

Other archaic laws stated that women could not sit at the bar in a cocktail lounge and a patron could not carry a drink from the bar to a booth.

Entertaining friends

The World's Fair in 1962 - this was a social event to surpass all. A friend was coming into town from New York, and we were eager to entertain. However, the only dining time at the ever-impressive Space Needle was 9:45 p.m.

On the fourth rotation of the Needle, we finished off the sixth olive and pimiento, gently washed down with the third martini. Somewhere in the mist; a bottle of fine red wine appeared and everyone was enjoying their double order of fun.

Suddenly, amid the gaiety and laughter, a very sober voice boomed, "Drink 'em up. You can continue eating, but all alcohol must be off the table at midnight!"

So Bowling Ball Harry was called. In no time, Harry showed up, stepping smartly from a cab looking like a true competitive bowler - except the bowling ball was filled with an assortment of liquor at $10 a pint. As Harry would say, "$2 for the cabbie, and $2 for Harry's retirement fund!"

Harry sometimes even stayed to share a drink.

Getting around liquor laws

We coped with laws that differed from one bar to another. One that stood out was in Downtown Seattle.

At midnight, you could trade an extra-dry gin martini for a pillow. Of course, there was always ways around that, as I was a good-standing member of Bob Kino's 605 Club, the Wah Mee, the Black and Tan, the Ebony and the China Pheasant.

Looking back at those times - meeting new friends in those smoke-filled, after-hour clubs and having the wherewithal to turn a dry Sunday into something more appealing - made Mondays easier to deal with.

We of the after-hours set, however, felt like the character of Seattle was diminished when bars stayed open on Sundays.

Richard Carl Lehman is a Madison Park resident. Send e-mail to him at

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