Back in either 1959 or 1960 my friend Monty called me and wanted to know if I wanted to go to a Beatnik coffee house in Atlanta. “Beatnik coffee house?” I said. I wasn’t keen on going out on a school night when it was going to something I knew nothing about – in some of our misadventures back then when we went to a place we knew nothing about we suddenly had to scatter or suffer some consequences, and I was afraid this might be the case this time, and Atlanta is/was a long way away for a school night.
Neither of us knew anything about beatniks or coffee houses. From TV we figured the males were bearded, wore berets and the females had long straight hair and wore black stockings. In the coffee houses we knew from TV all they did was hang around zonked on opium or espresso coffee and recited beat poetry. The most important lure for us was that we thought the females in their black stockings were all opened minded and all for free love….. which is just what a teenage boy would want.
So Monty, I, and two more friends headed to Atlanta in Month’s mother’s Volvo PV544 on a dark foggy night.
The place we were looking for was The Golden Horn on 15th Street. We found it without any problem. The Golden Horn was located on the street level floor of an granite building that was a three story apartment building, each level above street level had a porch or patio. It was across the street from the High Museum which was also known as the Atlanta Art Museum. The museum was facing Peachtree Street, but the side of it was along side 15th Street.
Monty parked the car down the street about a block, you never know if what might happen that we would have to leave suddenly.
We went in. To the left was a table full of tasty looking cakes, and behind that was a bar that did the serving of beverages. A lean lady with long black hair and black stockings came up and asked us did we want a seat and we said we did. Yep, she was just what we expected.
The room was not that large. Maybe 10 or 15 tables in a dim lit room. On the far end was a small low stage. We sat down and expected someone to come out on stage and play some bongo drums or maybe recite poetry, or whatever beatniks do.
The people at the other tables seemed quiet, chatting among themselves. I would guess they were college students, Georgia Tech was only a few blocks away.
The dame with the long black straight hair and black stockings asked what did want and we said coffee. This is a coffee house – right? She brought back four coffees and our bill.
A man in white skin tight leotards and a unicorn head climb up on stage and music was played… it was flute music. The man with the unicorn head starting lightly dancing, at times it was like a ballet because he would leap and tip toe and piloret.... all this to classical flute music.
We were not music appreciators by any means. Any thing musical we like was on the top 40 radio stations. Our minds had not yet matured to appreciate good music or interpretive dancing.
Monty would later become a disc jockey.
Our whispering conversation went something like this: “Good god! We came all way down here to see this shit?”
“Is this a queer joint?”
“No, there is a couple of girls here.”
“How much is the bill? Lets pay and get the hell out of here!”
“Damn! It is sixteen dollars!”
“yes – that coffee must cost $4 a cup.”
“Shit! Now what?”
The thing is, we didn’t have $16 between us. We had something like $3 and some change.
So, we made plans. While we were whispering making our plans the woman brought another round of coffees and added it to the bill.
The table with the cakes were on a table, just a leap from the front door. We decided we would get up and stand over the cakes as if we were planning on which cake to pick out and run out the door the first chance we got.
All four of us got up, went over to the table and stood there looking at the cakes. The wench with the long straight hair came up to watch us. To make it look like we were dead serious on picking out a cake I put my hand out, finger extended and said, “Hmmm Lets see….”
She interrupted me by putting a sharp butcher knife up to my face and say, “Touch a cake and off goes your finger honey!”
I let out a nervous laugh.
The bitch said, “You think I’m joking!” and jabbed the knife in midair within inches of my stomach. I backed up.
She jabbed at me again and I backed up some more….. how in the heck did I find myself in this mess? I thought.
About that time the door slammed and we both looked at the door. We could see my three friends heads bobble by the window as they were running.
Now she was mad. She jabbed again and I turned around and ran. Somehow to get away from her knife tricks I found myself on the stage with the unicorn, then she joined us. People in the audience were laughing. I jumped off the stage with her behind me swiping at me.
This time the door was in front of me and she was in the back of me. I opened the door and ran out and ran down towards the car, but I was running scared and caught up with them before they reached it.
We all had a good laugh when I told them what happened and we all climbed into the car. Monty said, “I lost my wallet.”
“What did you do with it?”
“I had it out when we were counting our money. I must have dropped it on the floor.”
“Let it go, the dollar you had in there isn’t worth it.”
“I an’t leaving without my wallet. My phony driving license is in there, do you know how long it took me to draw the Seal of Georgia on that thing?”
Me: “I’m not going back in there for anything.”
We agreed the other three would go back in and demand the wallet back and I would be out side with the Volvo running, and as soon as they ran out they would hop in and away we would go – back home.
They went in and I sat in the drivers seat with the engine running, one foot on the clutch and the other foot ready to stomp down on the gas. I was the get-away driver.
They ran out laughing. Monty had his wallet, which he put in his back pocket.
“How did you get it?” I asked.
As a last second inspiration, Monty and his two companions when they entered The Golden Horn fell down to their knees and began crawling all over the room squealing like pigs. Everybody cracked up laughing, even the witch with the long straight hair and butcher knife. While crawling, Monty made a straight line to the table we were at and saw his wallet on the floor and snatched it up.
Alls wells that ends well.