December 14, 2010

A Reader's Memories of The Silver Palm Tavern / Burlesque Bar, Uptown Chicago

The Silver Palm was located at 1117 Wilson Avenue in Uptown Chicago. We recently featured another photo of it as it looked back in the day. This prompted a reader, Bill Matteson, to write in with his memories:


Well, it was about 1948 on a Saturday afternoon. I was 12 years old; me and my buddy Jimmy Thomas were going to the DeLuxe Theatre at the corner of Wilson Ave and Clifton, which is just west of the El tracks. Jimmy and I stopped in front of the Silver Palm to see if we could peek in and see something that would be worthwhile for a 12 year old boy to see.

Three big black sedans pulled up; men jumped out of the cars carrying sledge hammers and axes. They smashed through the locked front door. Jimmy and I, being boys, followed right in after them. We stood on the side and watched them smash tables, bottles, the bar and even the walls, and there on the walls were pictures of Nude Women. We were in our glory. The smasher guys told us to stay out of the way and we could have anything we wanted.

The Silver Palm as it looked in 1951, shortly after the events in the story.
The original image can be purchased (at time of writing) from here: Silver Palm.

We stole an old wagon from the outside back of the bar, took all the pictures, and behind the bar were some small cartons containing little plastic telescopes on a key chain. Inside the scopes were women nude from the waist up. Other boxes contained "8 pagers". The outcome was me and Jimmy took the wagon back to the "Pretzel Benders Inn" on Leland Ave. just west of Kenmore and sold everything we had to a few of the "boys." We made about $10 each.

We didn't really want to see Abbot and Costello meet Captain Kidd any way

An 8 pager was exactly that--page 1 was the cover then 7 other pages of hand drawn sex acts.

The Deluxe Theater was razed and is now part of the Truman Campus. $10 was a huge amount of money for a 12 year old. 12 cents got me into the movie. Riverview had 2 cent days. Can you imagine 50 rides for a buck?

Who were those guys in the black sedans? I never found out; it never made the newspaper. The speculation in the neighborhood was the "mob" or the IRS or "Big 10" from Townhall police station. Big 10 was an unmarked squad car with three detectives and nobody ever messed with Big Ten.

Bill Matteson


Nicky said...

Great story!

Anonymous said...

Bill, if I can remember correctly the Deluxe theater burned down around 1970....


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