Things That You Never Heard in Any Saloon in The Early West

Abandoned saloon that must have saw its wilder days.
Abandoned saloon that must have saw its wilder days.

Let's head over to the saloon

In the early west the center of activity was not the church. Nor was it the corral where wild horses were broken, but the saloon. I do not feel the need to give you the definition of a saloon. My interpretation of the saloon was to some, the "local den of iniquity," where whiskey and beer sprang-up like wet-weather springs drowning numerous thirsts of wayward cowboys and penniless drifters.

The local saloon had it all and featured it all. Gambling with the house dealer or private poker games where many trail hands came in sober and money jangling and left broke and their skulls bursting from poor-distilled whiskey. Saloons suffered every stone threw at them and lived to thrive. Seems that there was no way to kill a saloon with gunpowder, laws, and prayers.

Brawls were common inside a saloon. Actually if there were no brawls, the saloon wasn't that exciting.
Brawls were common inside a saloon. Actually if there were no brawls, the saloon wasn't that exciting.

Only the shrewd survive

The saloon was rooted to stay. More than a few men and yes, women too, made a fair fortune from owning a saloon. Only the shrewd saloon owner saw the future and changed their "whiskey hole" image to a respectable place now referred to as a "bar," with gorgeous saloon girls who knew how to charm the roughest cowhand and stingy cattle barons. These girls were sent for by the smart saloon owners and trained by the best "charm mentors" in the east in the delicate machinery of pleasing men with a soft smile.

Drinking alone. You saw this a lot in most of the early saloons.
Drinking alone. You saw this a lot in most of the early saloons. | Source

It was what it was.

Saloons were never hypocritical. They were what they were and never pretended to be otherwise. There were the frequent Saturday night fist-fights, gunfights with real blood on the floor and by sunrise, business started over again fresh.

The most-anticipated time of the month for well-promoted saloon owners was the time when a cattle drive ended, and drinking, fighting, loving and gambling time started. One saloon owner with a bar full of cattle drovers could make as high as three to four thousand dollars in a two-day and night stretch. Back then, this was "real" money.

If only this place could talk.
If only this place could talk.
A beer and a quiet place to drink it is what most cowboys wanted.
A beer and a quiet place to drink it is what most cowboys wanted.
Charm was her weapon of choice.
Charm was her weapon of choice.
Saturday night saloon action.
Saturday night saloon action.
This lady has played in so many westerns as a saloon owner that I couldn't find the number of films she has made.
This lady has played in so many westerns as a saloon owner that I couldn't find the number of films she has made.
Notice how this saloon girl smiles at her customer.
Notice how this saloon girl smiles at her customer.
An abandoned saloon.
An abandoned saloon.

Every saloon had a thick white cloud of cigar and self-rolled cigarettes filling the air. But this only added to the rustic and raw atmosphere of the early saloons. And there was always talk. Everywhere you sat was talk. More talk than you could hear in a professional auctioneers convention. Ugly jokes, drunken tongues crying to a cold-hearted stranger about his love who shafted him for a traveling kitchen utensils salesmen.

But with that being said, there was, my friends,

Things That You Never Heard in Any Saloon in The Early West

(Probably the bartender is speaking):

  • "Mister, don't ye' think that two bottles of whiskey is your limit?"
  • "Hey, now. Don't spend any more of your hard-earned money. We won't accept it."
  • "You tell a joke like that again and you will be thrown out."
  • "My name's 'Sally.' Would you take me to church in the morning?"
  • "Now wait, gunslinger. I do not want a fight, so let me lay my gunbelt on the floor."
  • "Attention, ladies and gentlemen. It's 9 o'clock. Closing time."
  • "Would you get that cattle stench out of here, friend?"
  • "The next man who lights-up a cigar will be asked to leave. This is a non-smoking saloon."
  • "Alright, you saloon girls. You best not be flirting with these cowpokes to buy your drinks for you."
  • "Are you playing high-stakes poker over there? You men know you can only play for match sticks."
  • "If you two guys are gonna fight, do it with your hands and slap each other. Using fists are illegal."
  • "This is a roulette wheel, but not for gambling. It's to watch go round and round."
  • "Somebody go get the marshal. This man's wearing a loaded pistol."
  • "You card dealers get out of here. We only allow Old Maid cards to be used."
  • "Sure, friend, our beer doesn't have alcohol. If it did, you would get drunk and we don't allow that."
  • "When 8:30 rolls around, everyone stand for our nightly dismissal prayer."
  • "Well, folks. Tomorrow we will be closed for it's Sunday."
  • "Okay, all bank robbers and men running from the law, step up here and let the marshall arrest you."
  • "Closing time and remember, all chewing gum is half price Monday when we open."

There were fights-a plenty in all of the early saloons.
There were fights-a plenty in all of the early saloons.

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Comments 6 comments

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 20 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids

What always strikes me in old westerns is when they shoot up at the ceiling. Sice the upstirs has rooms to sleep in, doesn't anybody get killed?


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 20 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, dahoglund,

Yes, sir. You have a valid point. And my observation is that all of the actors in westerns, no matter how rough, had PERFECT teeth. I am sure that there was not an abundance of dentists in the early west.

Thanks for adding to my enjoyment of doing this hub and come back anytime.


Julie K Henderson profile image

Julie K Henderson 19 months ago

This is an informative and entertaining article. Well done. I laughed out loud while reading a few of the things which were never uttered in those days. Voted up.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 18 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Julie K. Henderson,

Thank you sincerely for such a sweet comment. Thank God something I wrote made you laugh and that is my mission--to give laughter instead of crying and peace instead of confusion.

Stay in touch with me.


Julie K Henderson profile image

Julie K Henderson 17 months ago

You are welcome. I, too, aim to make people laugh with what I write. One of my favorite bloggers often makes me laugh out loud when I read her posts, and I have told her how much I appreciate this.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 17 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Julie K Henderson,

You are one special friend, writer, and now a follower. I am going to send you a Thank you email very soon to show YOU just how much I appreciate YOU.

Thanks and I appreciate being blessed with the opportunity to make you laugh.

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