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Tori, California to Arkansas 1973, Ye Old Note & Tong pub.

Updated on July 12, 2013

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Bosco's in the River Market, this is just a prop for my story
Bosco's in the River Market, this is just a prop for my story | Source

Ye Old Note and Tong was a neighborhood bar in Pasadena, California.

Ye Old Note and Tong was a neighborhood bar in Pasadena, California. The Tavern or Pub as it was referred to, or simply; the Note & Tong. The official front entrance, was a large door, located on Catalina, just around the corner from Merced. The Catalina entrance, offered a stoop that a giant could use. There was a poured square of concrete. The stoop which brought a person to the Renaissance-looking, era door was very tall. The solid door had a thick, man-hand size pull handle. The door was made of solid oak, dark. It looked as if it had been hand hewn from an enormous tree. The door had also darkened with the passage of many years in the city. The girth of the door, would have made it possible for Pub goers to withstand the hordes.

Once the customer had entered, and crossed the threshold, he was in the Pool Room of Ye Olde Note and Tong. Inside were four regulation size pool tables, coin slot on the side.

Above the tables, just close enough to get whacked, but far enough away, that it was tough to shatter glass were lights. They were not too bright, but kept the room from darkness. The lights were the type offered by the beer companies who serviced the bar. The lights were rectangular, hanging from four long chains. The names and logos of the beer brand would proclaim in loud blues, or slashing reds the booze you should support.

The pool tables were aligned along the length of the room

The pool tables were lined long ways with the length of the room.

If a person wanted in to play the table holder (prior winner), you had to put your quarter on the pool table railing closest to the coin slot. It could take an hour or more on some nights to get in the games, but whoa to the man or woman who missed their turn up. Their quarter moved to the back of the line, and stayed last in line, until the owner showed back up to claim her place

The pool tables were lined long ways, parallel to the walls in the long room. Two pool tables were on one side of the thick wooden floor. The two other tables were parallel. The floor had been polished for many decades, the room was rectangular, with long oaken pew seating, sans cushions, moved along the side walls without apology or break.

There was enough room on each tables’ three sides to stack three to four people across, dance a bit, or really be a dramatic player. On each tables fourth sides, the player was often forced to use the “short stick”, or do some kind of fancy pool move in order to make a successful shot.
The coin slots on the pool tables were tough. Tori had to focus before two-thumbing her coin in with force. One could not be a sissy, and hope to get the balls to drop from the mechanism. It took a strong oomph of shove to be successful

Tori thrilled, and could feel a flutter in her gut when the push of the coin slot worked. There would be a loud clunk. After that came a kind of whoosh sound, and an orchestra drum roll, numbered; pow, pop, pow. One through sixteen.

Tori had played so many games, on the tables, that she knew the piece by heart, and if one ball missed its roll, Tori would know, and be back with the key before the other fifteen finished getting into place for scooping up, and then racking.

Continuing on through the pool room, to the end of one wall-pew

Continuing through the pool room, to the end of one wall-pew, there was a small table for the waitress to set her tray down to dispense drinks, but you were basically forced to hold your drink while you were in the pool room.

Later in the night, we would begin using the underside of the pool room pews for storage. At the end of a busy night, the moochers would have discovered themselves on a lovely drunk. The reason being that when those, who spend and buy as they drink, would forget where they put their drink, or if they drank it all up, but never thinking again of the under-the-pew-booze storage, wobbling slightly, they would decide against searching through the menagerie, and would instead, go ahead, flag the waitress, and buy another drink.

Born to be Wild (1969), and Desperado (1973) were current and popular

At the end of the poolroom, furthest from the Catalina street entrance was another doorway into a dark cavern.

Before the door, and after the pool tables, stood a juke box.

The juke box could be a point of contention as there was such a wide variety of music, that on a night when Spider, Smokey and Joey were feeling especially rowdy, and only wanted to play “Born to Be Wild”, or “Desperado” which were current songs, and all ready got massive radio play.

The most frequently played were Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (1973), and later Peter Frampton’s’ Do You Feel Like we Feel (1973) They were new and popular. You almost have to wonder about a society who is playing and listening to Dark Side of the Moon.

This society was at least a thinking and feeling one; when sober.

The bar area had some cushioned seating and a firepit

The cavern, or bar area had cushioned seating, built from stone, as was the firepit in the center of the cushioned seating area of the bar. Across from the cushioned seating was the bar. Dark wood, long, cushioned for arm rests. A Brass bar ran along the bottom of each of the open two sides of the bar. The brass bar ran the entire 12 feet of bar on one side, The foot bar continued on the only other accessible side, which was about 5 feet.

Going the same direction, from the bar area, at the 5 foot side, is a ramp. The ramp is wooden, long - about 6 or 7 feet, which takes the Show goers down into The Icehouse Comedy Club.

There is a small “secret” door for performers to enter. The place was pretty laid back, many stars performed, and came as audience members as well. Wolfman Jack, who at the time was a popular D.J. in Pasadena, could be spotted there. JJ Walker, Redd Foxx, and others whom Tori never noticed.

Since she was homeless, she did not watch much TV. It was not so popular and engaging anyway. At the time.

Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon

Tori spent the night in the bathroom once

Tori spent the night in the bathroom once. Some superstar was buying rounds of Magic’s all night, and if they had intended on taking advantage of her, they were in for a rude awakening. Tori was also in for a rude awakening. When she finally woke up, and carefully exited the women's restroom, she was met by a disappointed bartender who greeted her with towels, disinfectant, a mop, and trash cans.

She was scrubbing down the bar, helping clean up after a wild Saturday night. The bar during the day, was ugly, scarred, and smelled of desperate, alcohol sweat, and cigarette smoke. There was no getting rid of those stenches. Seeing the Note & Tong in the daylight, attempting to wash away the filth of the night or half-century before, was a time of clarity for Tori, she couldn’t have explained that to anyone at the time. She was about to turn 16, and saw that her bar, one of her few refuges, was great in the darkness, but when the lights came on, even her friend the bartender looked washed out, and ill. The “magic’ of the place had dimmed. She still had to make a living though, and these people were a kind of family for her.

Tori always wanted to pay her way, and was glad to make up for her bad behavior, by working

Tori always wanted to make sure she paid her way. If not with money, then work.

Her head was aching, and her stomach past empty.

After about four hours, she was almost done with scrubbing down the bathrooms, polishing the bar, and brass foot rails. Tori wanted to make sure she never did this again..

Tori could not get over how at night, the bar and all patrons seemed one way, but in the daylight, with the doors opened to the outside air, the bar was ugly, the wood scarred more than polished. The walls were filmed with something that could only be removed with sand blasting. Desperation, sweat, and cigarette smoke..

There was no getting rid of that stench. No matter how much disinfectant or soap she applied, the smells would remain. Even when Tori continued to be a regular on the weekends, she could not help but thinking of everything in the light of day.

She was about to turn 16, and saw that her bar, one of her few refuges was so great and alluriing in the darkness, but when the lights came on, even her friend the bartender looked washed out, and ill.

The “magic’ of the Ye Old Note and Tong had dimmed. Once she saw her haven in the light, she realized it was only a facade.

She still had to make a living playing pool though. Her dead end job didn't pay enough to make ends meet.

...was the back door for the Icehouse Comedy Club

At the end of the ramp, and to the right was a back door for the Icehouse Comedy Club. This led to a portion of the alley where trash receptacles were out of sight of show goers, and where performers could come in or out without being molested.

This is where the Tong‘s own bikers, independents parked their motorcycles. The bikers were also the bouncers, and they were really cool to Tory, they referred to her as Little Sister.

Management kept them around to bounce when necessary. Tori would also go into the back with her buddies, and toke up some doobies. A lot of guys were doing cocaine and smack, not at the Tong, but around. Tori had been very lucky, in that the only drug she liked besides mini bennies, was weed. She had tried heroin one time, and that was all it took. Tori had to stay in control, and could not do it with that junk in her system.

She did drink when guys were buying, because it was a substitute for the food she did not have. Tori played pool for money, worked at her dead end jobs, and sold a little smoke.

A girl had to survive, and she did not have it in her to be a prostitute. She could not let just any guy touch her, she had a personal space issue, that would only be violated or relaxed on Tori’s terms.

Sex was a powerful tool. She could not have explained this to you at the time, as she was just a kid, born 18, who was doing her best to live, and thrive. She did not know love, but she had a caring and protective nature, and was basically a good nut.

The alley behind the Ice House Comedy Club...

The back alley, was a T shape. In one of the corners of the T was where the back alley from the Icehouse was.

If you walked around to the end of the T, and turned the corner, it would bring you to the back entrance of The Handlebars Saloon.

Lots of bikers hung out there. Handlebars was harder to hang around for Tori, as the waitresses didn’t buy that Tori was 21, and wanted her I.D.

There were some awesome bands that played at Handlebars Saloon, so sometimes the bouncer would sneak her and Cindy in the back, but they had to behave themselves…

Tori had been coming to Ye Old Note and Tong for almost three years, and been a regular for almost a year.

Her 16th birthday was in a couple of months. In school they were teaching them drivers education. Before her birthday, they would do the driver training.

She would have to ask someone to help her. Use a car to drive


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