Jump to content
The Education Forum

The Cellar on Nov.21/22, 1963


Recommended Posts

It has been said that the Secret Service while in Ft. Worth broke protocol and had a drinking binge into the wee hours at a club in downtown Cowtown called the Cellar. I'm trying to gather some information, be it anecdotal, about that night. Who was there? Who was working the Cellar that night? Who were the regular employees at that time? Was there live music, if so, who played? What kind of music did they play--it was supposedly a rock n' roll club, right? Any other performers, if so who, what did they perform? What did it look like inside, and outside? All in all, this was a very strange place to take the SS--what with it's reputation for lewdness, etc., wasn't it? Who arranged this? Did Ruby/Marcello have some connection to this venue? Were there women there with the SS--were they honey-traps of sorts?

from:

http://www.fortwortharchitecture.com/forum...ic=991&st=0

A downtown bar called "The Cellar" became very infamous back in the 60's when JFK's Secret Service body guards drank there till dawn the night before he was killed in Dallas. The Cellar was the home of Ft Worth counter culture and rock music scene until the mid seventies when the FW police dept. decided it was time to crack down on the goings on at the club. constant harrassment the local federales ran off the customers and the owner (Pat Kirkwood) was forced to shut the doors in the mid-seventies.

Here's a link to part of the Warren Report that talks about the cellar.

http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/jfk/wc/w...H18_CE_1020.pdf

If anyone has any further information or stories to tell, please do...

Link to post
Share on other sites
It has been said that the Secret Service while in Ft. Worth broke protocol and had a drinking binge into the wee hours at a club in downtown Cowtown called the Cellar. I'm trying to gather some information, be it anecdotal, about that night. Who was there? Who was working the Cellar that night? Who were the regular employees at that time? Was there live music, if so, who played? What kind of music did they play--it was supposedly a rock n' roll club, right? Any other performers, if so who, what did they perform? What did it look like inside, and outside? All in all, this was a very strange place to take the SS--what with it's reputation for lewdness, etc., wasn't it? Who arranged this? Did Ruby/Marcello have some connection to this venue? Were there women there with the SS--were they honey-traps of sorts?

from:

http://www.fortwortharchitecture.com/forum...ic=991&st=0

A downtown bar called "The Cellar" became very infamous back in the 60's when JFK's Secret Service body guards drank there till dawn the night before he was killed in Dallas. The Cellar was the home of Ft Worth counter culture and rock music scene until the mid seventies when the FW police dept. decided it was time to crack down on the goings on at the club. constant harrassment the local federales ran off the customers and the owner (Pat Kirkwood) was forced to shut the doors in the mid-seventies.

Here's a link to part of the Warren Report that talks about the cellar.

http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/jfk/wc/w...H18_CE_1020.pdf

If anyone has any further information or stories to tell, please do...

The Cellar, in Fort Worth, was not a bar, from what I understand, but a hippie style coffee house with beatnick poetry and music.

One Secret Service Agent recently said that it was not possible for the SS agents to get drunk at this place because they didn't serve liquor.

It was owned by a mob guy, reportedly friends with Ruby, who may have served booze under the table.

I'm sure Jack White could fill in the details or straighten out anything.

BK

Link to post
Share on other sites
It has been said that the Secret Service while in Ft. Worth broke protocol and had a drinking binge into the wee hours at a club in downtown Cowtown called the Cellar. I'm trying to gather some information, be it anecdotal, about that night. Who was there? Who was working the Cellar that night? Who were the regular employees at that time? Was there live music, if so, who played? What kind of music did they play--it was supposedly a rock n' roll club, right? Any other performers, if so who, what did they perform? What did it look like inside, and outside? All in all, this was a very strange place to take the SS--what with it's reputation for lewdness, etc., wasn't it? Who arranged this? Did Ruby/Marcello have some connection to this venue? Were there women there with the SS--were they honey-traps of sorts?

from:

http://www.fortwortharchitecture.com/forum...ic=991&st=0

A downtown bar called "The Cellar" became very infamous back in the 60's when JFK's Secret Service body guards drank there till dawn the night before he was killed in Dallas. The Cellar was the home of Ft Worth counter culture and rock music scene until the mid seventies when the FW police dept. decided it was time to crack down on the goings on at the club. constant harrassment the local federales ran off the customers and the owner (Pat Kirkwood) was forced to shut the doors in the mid-seventies.

Here's a link to part of the Warren Report that talks about the cellar.

http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/jfk/wc/w...H18_CE_1020.pdf

If anyone has any further information or stories to tell, please do...

A fellow named Arvel Jr. Stricklin claims he was at the Cellar that night.

"Many people have heard the Cellar name in connection with the Kennedy Secret Service agents. I was there that night, and also a few nights previous when an NBC camera crew did some filming there. If you've seen a 6-part documentary titled "The Men Who Killed Kennedy", You've seen me. I am the guitar player you saw for 3 or 4 seconds as the camera panned past the Bandstand. (along with, on bass, CB Oliver; on drums, Felix Vasquez)"

See:

http://www.arvel.com/cellarstory.html

His email is published on the site. No idea if it is a working email.

Regards,

Peter Fokes,

Toronto

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Secret Service & The Cellar......

Survivors Guilt : Vince Palamara

Scroll to Page 16......

http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:8RKH0t...=clnk&cd=11

The Cellar Home Page

You may need to scroll down....

http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseact...iendID=68802567

B...... B)

Below is an ad from one of The Cellar Clubs....

Edited by Bernice Moore
Link to post
Share on other sites
The Secret Service & The Cellar......

Survivors Guilt : Vince Palamara

Scroll to Page 16......

http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:8RKH0t...=clnk&cd=11

The Cellar Home Page

You may need to scroll down....

http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseact...iendID=68802567

B...... B)

Below is an ad from one of The Cellar Clubs....

Thanks B.

Two birds with one stone. Coffee house and Pat Kirkwood.

Now we're going to get swamped with Kirkwood stories.

BK

Link to post
Share on other sites

Management and waitresses at the Cellar had been busted several times for serving drinks under the counter.

Pat Kirkwood was a very interesting character. One time stock car racer and mixed with a variety of curious folk from the Dallas - Fort Worth area.

Kirkwood below.

JK

Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.archives.gov/publications/prolo...last-day-2.html

An advance man recalls JFK trip to Ft. Worth:

...While I was engaged with my set of problems, Duncan, Hall, and Howard went about their business of providing for the safety of the President while he was in Fort Worth. They met with law enforcement agencies that would be involved in the visit, checked the backgrounds of hotel employees and others who would be in close contact with the presidential party, "ran out" and timed motorcade routes and alternatives, made arrangements for tight security on the President's quarters in the hotel, and went through the numerous other rituals peculiar to their calling. At night, we met to compare notes.

I also took the time to walk around downtown Fort Worth and get the feel of the city. On one walk, enticed by a sale, I entered a hat store and came out with a Stetson. I tried to appear accustomed to wearing this Western headgear but probably fooled no one. On my rambles I dropped in twice to The Cellar, a below-the-street place near the hotel, where strange drinks without alcohol were served to the heavy thrum of drums and guitars. The preferred dress style was 1960s Beatnik. The din did not encourage lengthy stays by visitors with unconditioned ears......

......I went to bed, declining an invitation to visit the Fort Worth Press Club, which was staying open late for the benefit of visiting journalists. Just as well. Among those who did go to the press club were some off-duty members of the Secret Service who had just arrived from Washington. A few also visited The Cellar, the aforementioned nightspot. After the Dallas catastrophe, they were pilloried by Drew Pearson, one of the most influential syndicated columnists of the day, for drinking and keeping late hours on a presidential trip. However, there was no evidence at all of extensive drinking by agents of the Secret Service. As one agent told me, they were much more interested in getting a bite to eat than a drink. Meals for Secret Service agents on presidential trips could be erratic....

Then there's:

http://www.thecellarlbc.com/History001.htm

<H1 id=title align=center>The King of Clubs</H1>

Pat Kirkwood always knew how to throw a party, which is why the Cellar defined nightlife in Fort Worth, Houston, and other Texas cities.

by Joe Nick Patoski

Re-Printed from Texas Monthly - April 2000

IN THE SHADOW OF THE BRIGHTEST MOON in a century, a steady stream of casually dressed older folks, a few with walkers and canes, shuffle into a suite at the Green Oaks Inn in Fort Worth. Drinks are drunk, cigarettes smoked — rituals of closure in the last hours of the party of their lives. Greeting guests is the evening's host, Pat Kirkwood, a lanky 72-year-old whose black suit, black shirt, black tie, and black alligator shoes are a startling contrast to his pale pink skin and snow-white ponytail and matching beard. If not for the odd phrase snatched from conversation ("There is no remission"), you wouldn't know he's dying. If he's going to go, he figured, he may as well have one last fling with the friends and acquaintances who made his nightclub chain, the Cellar, the coolest in Texas.

And so they have come: all the old bouncers, managers, musicians, waitresses, lawyers (Tarrant County district attorney Tim Curry phoned in regrets; he might have to run for reelection), and assorted hangers-on. A black and white film of the beach-based 1951 Daytona 500 plays on the television set in one room; Kirkwood, the only Texan in the race, vies for the lead until the sand jams his gearbox. Next door, on another TV, is a grainy color film shot in the early sixties by Jimmy Hill, then the manager of the Fort Worth Cellar; most of it was taken during the Artists and Models Ball on Halloween night in 1962. Kirkwood is visible in it too, as are several female dancers in various stages of undress. "There's my ex-wife," Hill says with a chuckle.

At a table in the corner, onetime moonshine smuggler Don "Thunder Road" Johnson plunks down next to Kirkwood and tells stories about flying around Texas on a four-day drunk, while Chuck "Elf" Bolding, who managed the Cellar in Dallas and now supervises security guards at the Las Vegas Hilton, recalls the nights that an underage Stevie Ray Vaughan played the club. "We had our own law," Bolding says. "It was whatever Pat wanted."

"Hey, Pat, " a voice shouts from the other room. "What happened the night one guy shot another guy in the head and the guy who got shot went to jail?"

Those were the days.

THE ORIGINAL CELLAR, a basement joint at the corner of Tenth and Main streets in downtown Fort Worth, was a beatnik coffeehouse, a trendy concept when it opened in 1959. By the time I was old enough to sneak out of the house, it had moved to a second-story walk-up three blocks from the Tarrant County courthouse, and no matter what the menu said, it was no longer serving just coffee, if you know what I mean. There were Cellars too in downtown Dallas (on Commerce Street, across from the KLIF building), in downtown Houston (in Market Square), and, briefly, near the River Walk in San Antonio, until officials of the area's five Air Force bases pressured it into closing.

For as long as they were in business — last call in Fort Worth, Dallas, and Houston was 1972, 1972, and 1973, respectively — the Cellars defined nightlife. They functioned as all-purpose hangouts with a hint of biker bar, semi-legit walks on the wild side that were as edgy as it got in Texas in the swinging sixties. The clientele they attracted would be considered retro hip today: low-grade hoodlums left over from the Jacksboro Highway Dixie Mafia, off-duty cops, ink-stained newspaper reporters, penny-ante hustlers and gamblers, and the occasional out-of-town celebrity, from tough-guy actor Lee Marvin to astronaut Alan Shepard.

To a fresh-faced sixteen-year-old looking for cheap thrills, no place was as deliciously threatening or as sinfully inviting. Walk in and there was no turning back. You'd give your dollar to the ex-con working the register, slip into the smoky haze, and move instinctively toward the booming beats. Dark was a theme: The walls were painted black, except for the slogans painted in white letters ("Evil Spelled Backwards Is Live," "You Must Be Weird to Be Here"); the staff was dressed in black; the interior lighting was pretty much a single red bulb hanging from the ceiling. Customers sat on large pillows on the floor. At one end of the room was a bandstand from which music blared until dawn. And it was dawn: The Cellar stayed open all night, winking at the law that said nightclubs had to close at midnight, because, you know, no liquor, beer, or wine was served, though I'd have sworn I was getting a buzz from the fake rum and coke brought by the waitress wearing only a bra and panties — at that point, the most exposed flesh I'd ever seen close-up on a woman other than my mother.

I knew enough not to get too familiar. Behind every waitress was a bouncer, part of the burliest, surliest security crew enforcing the peace anywhere in Tarrant County, and he was eager to kick my skinny ass down the stairs if I gave him a reason. I wanted to stay, because on some nights, in the wee hours, a waitress might fling off her underwear in front of the bandstand, which, back in those days, was outside the law. My friends and I figured the owner really had some pull. We had no idea.

Among its other charms, the Cellar's all-night policy honed the chops of performers like Stevie, Dusty Hill of ZZ Top, guitar ace Bugs Henderson, a truly original street drummer and rapper named Cannibal Jones (who changed his name to Bongo Joe when he moved to San Antonio), John Denver, and comedian George Carlin, who perfected his "seven dirty words" shtick at the Fort Worth Cellar; it also burnished the legends of characters like music director Johnny Carroll, a cult rockabilly star back in the fifties, and cats named Tiger, Tudy, and Hatchet, as well as a Beatles cover band called the Cellar Dwellers.

To keep the vibe going, Kirkwood laid down the law to his staff: "All policemen, all reporters, all pretty girls, all musicians, all doctors, all lawyers, and all our personal friends come in free and get free drinks forever." Now and again there were raids, but they were part of the show. Whenever the red light on the ceiling started flashing and the band shifted into the theme from the Mickey Mouse Club, it meant the cops were on their way. I always wondered if Kirkwood called them himself to keep customers entertained. He certainly was a self-promoter: To keep the Cellar and his own name in the news, he planned publicity stunts like the outdoor cookout at Trinity Park at which his staff was going to roast geese near the Duck Pond. "We had to get arrested to get in the paper," he says.

I remember him as an exceedingly polite and pleasant fellow, though there was also a less forgiving side to him. For all the hard-core types who thought of the Cellar as a second home, he was clear about the kind of people he wanted around. "No troublemakers, no queers, no pimps, no blacks, no narcotics," he says. "Those were the rules. If you did anything else strange, you were welcome." Undesirables were discouraged by a sign posted at the door announcing a cover charge of $1,000. Most people were charged only a dollar, but whenever a black man walked up, the bouncer invoked the policy — an unfortunate echo of Jim Crow.

I first reconnected with Kirkwood a year and a half ago in a trailer in the woods between Granbury and Glen Rose. It wasn't his place, he was quick to tell me; it belonged to a friend, an independent oilman. His eyes were hidden behind mirrored sunglasses, and he was dressed from head to toe in black: guayabera shirt, dungarees, pointy-toed sharkskin Beatle boots. At first I didn't notice the fancy hand-tooled silver-plated .45 automatic pistol resting on the table within his arm's reach. "Pop always said if you're going to marry a whore, it might as well be a pretty one," he said, flashing a sweet-dimpled smile.

Pop was W. C. "Pappy" Kirkwood, who operated the 2222 Club, a notorious and wholly illicit gambling casino, out of their house, a sprawling white stucco Spanish colonial mansion high on a bluff above the Jacksboro Highway. Its patrons were high rollers from all across Texas: wildcatters, pols, civic leaders. Sam Rayburn, the Speaker of the U.S. House, liked to sneak away from Bonham for a little excitement whenever he came home to visit his constituents. Pappy's wife, a trick rodeo rider named Fay Leberman, often entertained her close friend Dick Kleberg. Kirkwood recalls his father discreetly closing the gates whenever Nenetta Burton Carter, the wife of Amon Carter, the most powerful man in Fort Worth, hankered to play roulette with her girlfriends.

"My daddy was a man of integrity," Kirkwood rasped, swelling with pride. "He appointed police chiefs, all kinds of things like that, because nobody down there could trust anybody. They'd go to him and he'd tell them the deal straight up. One time Mayor F. E. Deen called Pop and said, 'By nine o'clock this morning I've got to appoint a new chief of police. Who should I appoint?' He's asking a well-known gambler running a well-known gambling joint." Kirkwood bent over and laughed hard.

"Every year on Christmas Day," he continued, "one of my chores was passing out gifts to cops. If they were 'harness bulls' and wore regular uniforms, they got a bottle of whiskey. If they had stripes — corporals, sergeants, whatever — they got a turkey. If they had hardware — captains, for instance — they'd get a ham. There'd be twenty cars lined up. I'd be running in the house, taking things out, back and forth. I thought it was hard, boring work. And then I got to thinking about it: Pop was introducing them to me. Boy, did that pay off a thousand times in the Cellar days." Before burying him in 1983, Kirkwood slipped Pappy's favorite pair of dice into his pocket. "He might run into a live one on the way," he reasoned.

Kirkwood himself was a live one of a different sort — a witness to history, it turned out. I had come to see him to talk about the Kennedy assassination, and he obliged by recalling Jack Ruby as "a Jewish wannabe hoodlum and speed freak who was like all the other joint owners from here to Casablanca" and "a pest who came to the Cellar on Saturday nights after his own place closed to hire away my waitresses." He then confirmed that Lee Harvey Oswald had washed dishes at the San Antonio Cellar upon his return from Mexico during the middle two weeks of November 1963, which prompted him to conclude that there was no conspiracy. "The mob is going to strand their hit man on the border, penniless, on the verge of doing his hit? I don't think so. Here's a guy who'd kill the president so that everyone would know he existed. It was the dawn of the celebrity age. That's really about all there is to Oswald."

He went into great detail about the circumstances that led seventeen off-duty Secret Service agents to drink at the Fort Worth Cellar until as late as five-thirty on the morning of November 22. The record remains unclear as to whether any of the president's protective detail had hangovers on that fateful day because after two week's worth of interrogation, Kirkwood finally sent the Secret Service away convinced that the club only served alcohol-flavored drinks, not the real thing. He neglected to tell them about the alcoholic "specials" given away to VIPs.

We talked of other things too, like his unsuccessful campaign for sheriff in Tarrant County in 1982 (he vowed to personally call on every criminal in Fort Worth and suggest they relocate to Dallas) and more recent escapades that were no less weird. By his own estimate, Kirkwood was involved in as many as 91 dope deals between 1988 and 1995, piloting small planes from Mexico to the U.S. on 29 missions, each time ratting out the smugglers to the feds. Just doing his part for the drug war, he explained. "I was asked in every [law enforcement] office what my motives were," he said. "I replied that it is a chance to take advantage of rewards offered by the government, to be in Mexico, and to utilize skills acquired over the years." One of those skills was flying; he'd been a student of the great American Airlines pilot Stormy Mangham.

Alas, his career as a double agent was relatively brief. After a series of runs for the FBI and U.S. Customs, he says, he was stiffed out of $4.2 million in fees and expenses he was promised for his services — a claim generally supported by Fort Worth Star-Telegram writer Mike Cochran, who sat in on dope deal discussions between Kirkwood and the feds. "There's no honor anymore," Kirkwood says, spewing out the words with disgust. "You can't take a man at his word." A source familiar with the back-and-forth has another theory: "You can't go cowboying around and running up expenses without authorization."

Whatever the case, Kirkwood could sure use the money; he's nearly broke. Medical bills are still piling up from his wife's kidney transplant last year, and he has considerable bills of his own. Last summer he was diagnosed with acute adenocarcinoma, a type of lung cancer, and it has spread like wildfire. Doctors gave him a one in three chance of living two years. "The best thing they can do," he said, "is extend my existence."

The last party at the Green Oaks reinforces that inevitability, just as it affirms the existence of an institutional memory. One look at the helicopter flyboys, hot mamas, and vaguely recalled figures of all types in attendance and I realize what an exceptionally wild bunch the regulars were. And they are paying for it, judging by the bloated faces, cautious steps, endless talk of strokes and heart attacks, and old friends referenced in the past tense. There were also priceless encounters, such as the one involving two musicians who were reintroduced after many years. The first one shook hands genially with the second, but when the second was out of earshot, the first turned to me and said, "That sumbitch stole my amp, and if it wasn't for Hatchet, I'd have killed him." Fortunately, bygones are bygones; anyway, the amp thief is too emaciated to beat up now.

At around midnight, Arvel Stricklin, an unsung Fort Worth guitarist who has set up a web site dedicated to Cellar lore, puts a CD on a boombox for mood music. It is The Cellar Tapes Volume One, and it features tracks culled from recordings made at the nightclub's Cowtown location. "Some blues, some rock, Johnny Carroll jumpin' in, some dancin' girls, and the ol' shuffle and you've got a buzz and it's too dark to see who, but they're playin' that jazz and it's gettin' late," Stricklin says. The music fills in the blanks, and the room comes alive. The smoke, the red light, nightlife as it was meant to be: It all comes back, accompanied by belly laughs and shrill shrieks.

Some time after, with wild stories swirling in the air, a former bouncer who looks every bit of four hundred pounds in his giant overalls falls from his chair and passes out briefly, signaling my own last call. "We have got to have one more next year," Kirkwood says as I exit, positively beaming from having the time of his life (and a few glasses of whiskey). "And if I'm not there, go ahead and start without me."

Edited by William Kelly
Link to post
Share on other sites
It has been said that the Secret Service while in Ft. Worth broke protocol and had a drinking binge into the wee hours at a club in downtown Cowtown called the Cellar. I'm trying to gather some information, be it anecdotal, about that night. Who was there? Who was working the Cellar that night? Who were the regular employees at that time? Was there live music, if so, who played? What kind of music did they play--it was supposedly a rock n' roll club, right? Any other performers, if so who, what did they perform? What did it look like inside, and outside? All in all, this was a very strange place to take the SS--what with it's reputation for lewdness, etc., wasn't it? Who arranged this? Did Ruby/Marcello have some connection to this venue? Were there women there with the SS--were they honey-traps of sorts?

from:

http://www.fortwortharchitecture.com/forum...ic=991&st=0

A downtown bar called "The Cellar" became very infamous back in the 60's when JFK's Secret Service body guards drank there till dawn the night before he was killed in Dallas. The Cellar was the home of Ft Worth counter culture and rock music scene until the mid seventies when the FW police dept. decided it was time to crack down on the goings on at the club. constant harrassment the local federales ran off the customers and the owner (Pat Kirkwood) was forced to shut the doors in the mid-seventies.

Here's a link to part of the Warren Report that talks about the cellar.

http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/jfk/wc/w...H18_CE_1020.pdf

If anyone has any further information or stories to tell, please do...

Groundless speculation like this perpetrates myths.

The Cellar was a very benign place compared to "night clubs". While it is true that owner

Pat Kirkwood had underworld connections, he wanted to stay law-abiding in Fort Worth,

because The Cellar was not his main business. He operated the 2222 private club as a venue

where the state's most prominent citizens gathered regularly to gamble. People like LBJ, Sam

Rayburn, John Connally, HL Hunt, Clint Murchison, Amon Carter, Sid Richardson and the like.

He operated this illegal gambling with a wink and a nod from city law enforcement, so the last

thing he wanted was to get in trouble with the law.

His Cellar did not even have a liquor license, mainly because the waitresses wore bikinis,

which was prohibited by the TLCB. All they served was coffee and cider. There were no tables,

no chairs, no bandstand, no band. All customers were given a pillow on which to sit on the

floor. There was a microphone in the middle of the room, and the usual entertainment,

usually local amateurs with a guitar, took the spotlight and performed FOLK MUSIC or

BEATLES SONGS. Customers sat on their pillows, drank their cider, and smoked (lots of

it not tobacco). Waitresses made big tips which were stuffed into their bikini tops. It was

NOT a beatnik hangout and had NO rock music...just mellow folk stuff which allowed

conversation. I never went there except one time in the daytime. The walls were painted

weird colors, and there was a sign on the wall that said EVIL SPELLED BACKWARDS IS LIVE.

In some places they called places like this COFFEE HOUSES.

Many of my co-workers went there for the folk music, particularly if the act for the night

was someone they knew.

And of course EVERYBODY knew Jack Ruby, even Pat Kirkwood. But as far as is known,

he had to be a good boy. The Cellar and the 2222 Club were necessarily clean.

So cut the speculations. The Cellar was a nice place, according to my friends.

Jack

Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/...s/CC/xdc12.html

CELLAR. The Cellar was one of the most unusual clubs in Texas. It was owned by Pat Kirkwood and managed by Jim Hill. Four cities had a Cellar—Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, and San Antonio. The club appeared on the Texas music scene beginning about 1958, first in Fort Worth and then in Houston. These two cities were the most successful locations; the San Antonio Cellar lasted only a few weeks in late 1962, and the Dallas location was never as busy as the first two.

The original Cellar in Fort Worth opened on Houston Street about 1958 and was subsequently moved several times in the early 1960s. "House bands" rotated periodically from one Cellar to another. Rockabilly musician Johnny Carrollqv served as music director for the original Cellar and each subsequent Cellar thereafter.

All the clubs had the same format. Each night, after an evening performance by an individual from 7 PM to 8 PM, two paid bands played alternate one-hour sets from 8 PM until 5 AM. This was before "liquor by the drink" was passed in Texas, so no alcohol was served, just setups. The cover charge was one dollar. For that small price a customer could hear two bands and watch the pretty waitresses (they wore bikinis) serve Cokes all night long.

Another unique feature was that there was no dance floor. The space in front of the stage was covered with old couch cushions where the clientele could lie down and listen to the music. The rest of the club was filled with tables, and sofas lined the walls. The lack of dancing encouraged the customers to listen, and the music was great. Bands played cutting-edge rock,qv blues,qv R&B, country rock, and the Beatles, mixed with their own originals. There was also a two-foot-high and two-foot-wide partition separating the band from the sofa-cushion area. This was often used as a "runway" by female dancers, who sometimes stripped spontaneously. Stripping was not legal in the Cellar, but it wasn't the only shady thing going on. The Cellar also later had the dubious distinction of being frequented by rival club owner Jack Ruby,qv who killed Lee Harvey Oswald.qv Secret Service agents patronized the club on the night before the Kennedy assassination.qv

The Cellar had an undertone of violence. Five or six bouncers were usually on hand to throw out anyone who passed out on the cushions (a side door that opened onto the street was the portal used, and the bouncers would really rough people up badly), to keep anyone not welcome in the club from getting in, to break up fights (of which there were many, some instigated by the bouncers), and to protect the waitresses and musicians. On stage above the musicians, out of sight of the audience, were three bulbs in a row—one white, one blue, and one red. The white light meant that all was okay; the blue meant that the police were in the club, so performers had to watch their language and behavior; and the red meant to start playing a song immediately and continue playing until the light went out (the music was meant to distract the audience from a fight). Since all the Cellars were in rough parts of town, some of the bouncers' actions were justified, though fighting was a poor fit with the hippie attitudes in the music scene at the time.

Nevertheless, the main focus of the Cellar was music. Dusty Hill, Frank Beard of ZZ Top, and Rocky Hill had a band called the American Blues, and they had blue hair. Other groups—the Cellar Dwellers, the Neurotic Sheep, the Geeks—were made up of great session players from around town who could play any type of music. The Cellar Dwellers's repertoire, for example, included Beatles covers.

The various locations of the Cellar began to close in the mid-1970s, mainly because of the legalization of liquor by the drink and the rise of clubs with light shows and long jams catering more to young music fans. The Cellar was a strange mix of old-style club management and the innovative music of the '60s and '70s. It was a place to hear hours of music for just a dollar with no boundaries on style or genre, and it was a great training ground for young musicians tough enough to survive all the strange things going on around them. Cellar music director Johnny Carroll died in 1995, and owner Pat Kirkwood died in 2000. The CD The Cellar Tapes Volume One (2000) features live recordings from the club.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Joe Nick Patoski, "The King of Clubs," Texas Monthly 28.4 (April, 2000). The Cellar Home Pages (http://www.arvel.com/cellarhome.html), accessed June 19, 2008. Jeff Prince, "Magical Misery Tour: Gen. y'ers didn't invent the skuzzy wonders of Fort Worth's rock scene," Fort Worth Weekly, January 16, 2008 (http://www.fwweekly.com/content.asp?article=6618), accessed February 6, 2008.

Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/...s/CC/xdc12.html

CELLAR. The Cellar was one of the most unusual clubs in Texas. It was owned by Pat Kirkwood and managed by Jim Hill. Four cities had a Cellar—Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, and San Antonio. The club appeared on the Texas music scene beginning about 1958, first in Fort Worth and then in Houston. These two cities were the most successful locations; the San Antonio Cellar lasted only a few weeks in late 1962, and the Dallas location was never as busy as the first two.

The original Cellar in Fort Worth opened on Houston Street about 1958 and was subsequently moved several times in the early 1960s. "House bands" rotated periodically from one Cellar to another. Rockabilly musician Johnny Carrollqv served as music director for the original Cellar and each subsequent Cellar thereafter.

All the clubs had the same format. Each night, after an evening performance by an individual from 7 PM to 8 PM, two paid bands played alternate one-hour sets from 8 PM until 5 AM. This was before "liquor by the drink" was passed in Texas, so no alcohol was served, just setups. The cover charge was one dollar. For that small price a customer could hear two bands and watch the pretty waitresses (they wore bikinis) serve Cokes all night long.

Another unique feature was that there was no dance floor. The space in front of the stage was covered with old couch cushions where the clientele could lie down and listen to the music. The rest of the club was filled with tables, and sofas lined the walls. The lack of dancing encouraged the customers to listen, and the music was great. Bands played cutting-edge rock,qv blues,qv R&B, country rock, and the Beatles, mixed with their own originals. There was also a two-foot-high and two-foot-wide partition separating the band from the sofa-cushion area. This was often used as a "runway" by female dancers, who sometimes stripped spontaneously. Stripping was not legal in the Cellar, but it wasn't the only shady thing going on. The Cellar also later had the dubious distinction of being frequented by rival club owner Jack Ruby,qv who killed Lee Harvey Oswald.qv Secret Service agents patronized the club on the night before the Kennedy assassination.qv

The Cellar had an undertone of violence. Five or six bouncers were usually on hand to throw out anyone who passed out on the cushions (a side door that opened onto the street was the portal used, and the bouncers would really rough people up badly), to keep anyone not welcome in the club from getting in, to break up fights (of which there were many, some instigated by the bouncers), and to protect the waitresses and musicians. On stage above the musicians, out of sight of the audience, were three bulbs in a row—one white, one blue, and one red. The white light meant that all was okay; the blue meant that the police were in the club, so performers had to watch their language and behavior; and the red meant to start playing a song immediately and continue playing until the light went out (the music was meant to distract the audience from a fight). Since all the Cellars were in rough parts of town, some of the bouncers' actions were justified, though fighting was a poor fit with the hippie attitudes in the music scene at the time.

Nevertheless, the main focus of the Cellar was music. Dusty Hill, Frank Beard of ZZ Top, and Rocky Hill had a band called the American Blues, and they had blue hair. Other groups—the Cellar Dwellers, the Neurotic Sheep, the Geeks—were made up of great session players from around town who could play any type of music. The Cellar Dwellers's repertoire, for example, included Beatles covers.

The various locations of the Cellar began to close in the mid-1970s, mainly because of the legalization of liquor by the drink and the rise of clubs with light shows and long jams catering more to young music fans. The Cellar was a strange mix of old-style club management and the innovative music of the '60s and '70s. It was a place to hear hours of music for just a dollar with no boundaries on style or genre, and it was a great training ground for young musicians tough enough to survive all the strange things going on around them. Cellar music director Johnny Carroll died in 1995, and owner Pat Kirkwood died in 2000. The CD The Cellar Tapes Volume One (2000) features live recordings from the club.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Joe Nick Patoski, "The King of Clubs," Texas Monthly 28.4 (April, 2000). The Cellar Home Pages (http://www.arvel.com/cellarhome.html), accessed June 19, 2008. Jeff Prince, "Magical Misery Tour: Gen. y'ers didn't invent the skuzzy wonders of Fort Worth's rock scene," Fort Worth Weekly, January 16, 2008 (http://www.fwweekly.com/content.asp?article=6618), accessed February 6, 2008.

This account describes the later versions of The Cellar, not the 1963 version, the original.

The original Cellar WAS a cellar. It was downstairs in an old 19th century building at Tenth

and Main. The entrance was a narrow stairway from the sidewalk. It had no bandstand nor

dance floor, I am told. It's seating was cushions on the floor. I forgot to mention that it also

served as a comedy club. National stars George Carlin, Jack Burns, and Norm Alden, all

local disk jockeys, tried out comedy material there. I had several friends who went there

regularly who said it was more like a "big party" there, without alcohol. Coffee, cider and

soft drinks were all that was served. Entertainment seemed spontaneous instead of planned,

and lots of amateurs performed. In the mid-1960s the building was destroyed to make way

for a downtown convention center. In a bizarre move it moved farther uptown to A SECOND

FLOOR LOCATION, still called The Cellar. I know nothing about it after that time.

Jack

Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/...s/CC/xdc12.html

CELLAR. The Cellar was one of the most unusual clubs in Texas. It was owned by Pat Kirkwood and managed by Jim Hill. Four cities had a Cellar—Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, and San Antonio. The club appeared on the Texas music scene beginning about 1958, first in Fort Worth and then in Houston. These two cities were the most successful locations; the San Antonio Cellar lasted only a few weeks in late 1962, and the Dallas location was never as busy as the first two.

The original Cellar in Fort Worth opened on Houston Street about 1958 and was subsequently moved several times in the early 1960s. "House bands" rotated periodically from one Cellar to another. Rockabilly musician Johnny Carrollqv served as music director for the original Cellar and each subsequent Cellar thereafter.

All the clubs had the same format. Each night, after an evening performance by an individual from 7 PM to 8 PM, two paid bands played alternate one-hour sets from 8 PM until 5 AM. This was before "liquor by the drink" was passed in Texas, so no alcohol was served, just setups. The cover charge was one dollar. For that small price a customer could hear two bands and watch the pretty waitresses (they wore bikinis) serve Cokes all night long.

Another unique feature was that there was no dance floor. The space in front of the stage was covered with old couch cushions where the clientele could lie down and listen to the music. The rest of the club was filled with tables, and sofas lined the walls. The lack of dancing encouraged the customers to listen, and the music was great. Bands played cutting-edge rock,qv blues,qv R&B, country rock, and the Beatles, mixed with their own originals. There was also a two-foot-high and two-foot-wide partition separating the band from the sofa-cushion area. This was often used as a "runway" by female dancers, who sometimes stripped spontaneously. Stripping was not legal in the Cellar, but it wasn't the only shady thing going on. The Cellar also later had the dubious distinction of being frequented by rival club owner Jack Ruby,qv who killed Lee Harvey Oswald.qv Secret Service agents patronized the club on the night before the Kennedy assassination.qv

The Cellar had an undertone of violence. Five or six bouncers were usually on hand to throw out anyone who passed out on the cushions (a side door that opened onto the street was the portal used, and the bouncers would really rough people up badly), to keep anyone not welcome in the club from getting in, to break up fights (of which there were many, some instigated by the bouncers), and to protect the waitresses and musicians. On stage above the musicians, out of sight of the audience, were three bulbs in a row—one white, one blue, and one red. The white light meant that all was okay; the blue meant that the police were in the club, so performers had to watch their language and behavior; and the red meant to start playing a song immediately and continue playing until the light went out (the music was meant to distract the audience from a fight). Since all the Cellars were in rough parts of town, some of the bouncers' actions were justified, though fighting was a poor fit with the hippie attitudes in the music scene at the time.

Nevertheless, the main focus of the Cellar was music. Dusty Hill, Frank Beard of ZZ Top, and Rocky Hill had a band called the American Blues, and they had blue hair. Other groups—the Cellar Dwellers, the Neurotic Sheep, the Geeks—were made up of great session players from around town who could play any type of music. The Cellar Dwellers's repertoire, for example, included Beatles covers.

The various locations of the Cellar began to close in the mid-1970s, mainly because of the legalization of liquor by the drink and the rise of clubs with light shows and long jams catering more to young music fans. The Cellar was a strange mix of old-style club management and the innovative music of the '60s and '70s. It was a place to hear hours of music for just a dollar with no boundaries on style or genre, and it was a great training ground for young musicians tough enough to survive all the strange things going on around them. Cellar music director Johnny Carroll died in 1995, and owner Pat Kirkwood died in 2000. The CD The Cellar Tapes Volume One (2000) features live recordings from the club.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Joe Nick Patoski, "The King of Clubs," Texas Monthly 28.4 (April, 2000). The Cellar Home Pages (http://www.arvel.com/cellarhome.html), accessed June 19, 2008. Jeff Prince, "Magical Misery Tour: Gen. y'ers didn't invent the skuzzy wonders of Fort Worth's rock scene," Fort Worth Weekly, January 16, 2008 (http://www.fwweekly.com/content.asp?article=6618), accessed February 6, 2008.

This account describes the later versions of The Cellar, not the 1963 version, the original.

The original Cellar WAS a cellar. It was downstairs in an old 19th century building at Tenth

and Main. The entrance was a narrow stairway from the sidewalk. It had no bandstand nor

dance floor, I am told. It's seating was cushions on the floor. I forgot to mention that it also

served as a comedy club. National stars George Carlin, Jack Burns, and Norm Alden, all

local disk jockeys, tried out comedy material there. I had several friends who went there

regularly who said it was more like a "big party" there, without alcohol. Coffee, cider and

soft drinks were all that was served. Entertainment seemed spontaneous instead of planned,

and lots of amateurs performed. In the mid-1960s the building was destroyed to make way

for a downtown convention center. In a bizarre move it moved farther uptown to A SECOND

FLOOR LOCATION, still called The Cellar. I know nothing about it after that time.

Jack

I personally can confirm that there was a Dallas Club called The Cellar in circa 1964-65. My step-grandfather worked for the construction company that was building what was to become One Main Place, as it was known in the 1970's, when my folks picked him up from work periodically, we drove right by it, although I was about seven years old at the time.

Anyone interested in Pat Kirkwood might be interested in my post as follows.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.ph...ic=14012&hl

Edited by Robert Howard
Link to post
Share on other sites
http://www.archives.gov/publications/prolo...last-day-2.html

An advance man recalls JFK trip to Ft. Worth:

...While I was engaged with my set of problems, Duncan, Hall, and Howard went about their business of providing for the safety of the President while he was in Fort Worth. They met with law enforcement agencies that would be involved in the visit, checked the backgrounds of hotel employees and others who would be in close contact with the presidential party, "ran out" and timed motorcade routes and alternatives, made arrangements for tight security on the President's quarters in the hotel, and went through the numerous other rituals peculiar to their calling. At night, we met to compare notes.

I also took the time to walk around downtown Fort Worth and get the feel of the city. On one walk, enticed by a sale, I entered a hat store and came out with a Stetson. I tried to appear accustomed to wearing this Western headgear but probably fooled no one. On my rambles I dropped in twice to The Cellar, a below-the-street place near the hotel, where strange drinks without alcohol were served to the heavy thrum of drums and guitars. The preferred dress style was 1960s Beatnik. The din did not encourage lengthy stays by visitors with unconditioned ears......

......I went to bed, declining an invitation to visit the Fort Worth Press Club, which was staying open late for the benefit of visiting journalists. Just as well. Among those who did go to the press club were some off-duty members of the Secret Service who had just arrived from Washington. A few also visited The Cellar, the aforementioned nightspot. After the Dallas catastrophe, they were pilloried by Drew Pearson, one of the most influential syndicated columnists of the day, for drinking and keeping late hours on a presidential trip. However, there was no evidence at all of extensive drinking by agents of the Secret Service. As one agent told me, they were much more interested in getting a bite to eat than a drink. Meals for Secret Service agents on presidential trips could be erratic....

Then there's:

http://www.thecellarlbc.com/History001.htm

<H1 id=title align=center>The King of Clubs</H1>

Pat Kirkwood always knew how to throw a party, which is why the Cellar defined nightlife in Fort Worth, Houston, and other Texas cities.

by Joe Nick Patoski

Re-Printed from Texas Monthly - April 2000

IN THE SHADOW OF THE BRIGHTEST MOON in a century, a steady stream of casually dressed older folks, a few with walkers and canes, shuffle into a suite at the Green Oaks Inn in Fort Worth. Drinks are drunk, cigarettes smoked — rituals of closure in the last hours of the party of their lives. Greeting guests is the evening's host, Pat Kirkwood, a lanky 72-year-old whose black suit, black shirt, black tie, and black alligator shoes are a startling contrast to his pale pink skin and snow-white ponytail and matching beard. If not for the odd phrase snatched from conversation ("There is no remission"), you wouldn't know he's dying. If he's going to go, he figured, he may as well have one last fling with the friends and acquaintances who made his nightclub chain, the Cellar, the coolest in Texas.

And so they have come: all the old bouncers, managers, musicians, waitresses, lawyers (Tarrant County district attorney Tim Curry phoned in regrets; he might have to run for reelection), and assorted hangers-on. A black and white film of the beach-based 1951 Daytona 500 plays on the television set in one room; Kirkwood, the only Texan in the race, vies for the lead until the sand jams his gearbox. Next door, on another TV, is a grainy color film shot in the early sixties by Jimmy Hill, then the manager of the Fort Worth Cellar; most of it was taken during the Artists and Models Ball on Halloween night in 1962. Kirkwood is visible in it too, as are several female dancers in various stages of undress. "There's my ex-wife," Hill says with a chuckle.

At a table in the corner, onetime moonshine smuggler Don "Thunder Road" Johnson plunks down next to Kirkwood and tells stories about flying around Texas on a four-day drunk, while Chuck "Elf" Bolding, who managed the Cellar in Dallas and now supervises security guards at the Las Vegas Hilton, recalls the nights that an underage Stevie Ray Vaughan played the club. "We had our own law," Bolding says. "It was whatever Pat wanted."

"Hey, Pat, " a voice shouts from the other room. "What happened the night one guy shot another guy in the head and the guy who got shot went to jail?"

Those were the days.

THE ORIGINAL CELLAR, a basement joint at the corner of Tenth and Main streets in downtown Fort Worth, was a beatnik coffeehouse, a trendy concept when it opened in 1959. By the time I was old enough to sneak out of the house, it had moved to a second-story walk-up three blocks from the Tarrant County courthouse, and no matter what the menu said, it was no longer serving just coffee, if you know what I mean. There were Cellars too in downtown Dallas (on Commerce Street, across from the KLIF building), in downtown Houston (in Market Square), and, briefly, near the River Walk in San Antonio, until officials of the area's five Air Force bases pressured it into closing.

For as long as they were in business — last call in Fort Worth, Dallas, and Houston was 1972, 1972, and 1973, respectively — the Cellars defined nightlife. They functioned as all-purpose hangouts with a hint of biker bar, semi-legit walks on the wild side that were as edgy as it got in Texas in the swinging sixties. The clientele they attracted would be considered retro hip today: low-grade hoodlums left over from the Jacksboro Highway Dixie Mafia, off-duty cops, ink-stained newspaper reporters, penny-ante hustlers and gamblers, and the occasional out-of-town celebrity, from tough-guy actor Lee Marvin to astronaut Alan Shepard.

To a fresh-faced sixteen-year-old looking for cheap thrills, no place was as deliciously threatening or as sinfully inviting. Walk in and there was no turning back. You'd give your dollar to the ex-con working the register, slip into the smoky haze, and move instinctively toward the booming beats. Dark was a theme: The walls were painted black, except for the slogans painted in white letters ("Evil Spelled Backwards Is Live," "You Must Be Weird to Be Here"); the staff was dressed in black; the interior lighting was pretty much a single red bulb hanging from the ceiling. Customers sat on large pillows on the floor. At one end of the room was a bandstand from which music blared until dawn. And it was dawn: The Cellar stayed open all night, winking at the law that said nightclubs had to close at midnight, because, you know, no liquor, beer, or wine was served, though I'd have sworn I was getting a buzz from the fake rum and coke brought by the waitress wearing only a bra and panties — at that point, the most exposed flesh I'd ever seen close-up on a woman other than my mother.

I knew enough not to get too familiar. Behind every waitress was a bouncer, part of the burliest, surliest security crew enforcing the peace anywhere in Tarrant County, and he was eager to kick my skinny ass down the stairs if I gave him a reason. I wanted to stay, because on some nights, in the wee hours, a waitress might fling off her underwear in front of the bandstand, which, back in those days, was outside the law. My friends and I figured the owner really had some pull. We had no idea.

Among its other charms, the Cellar's all-night policy honed the chops of performers like Stevie, Dusty Hill of ZZ Top, guitar ace Bugs Henderson, a truly original street drummer and rapper named Cannibal Jones (who changed his name to Bongo Joe when he moved to San Antonio), John Denver, and comedian George Carlin, who perfected his "seven dirty words" shtick at the Fort Worth Cellar; it also burnished the legends of characters like music director Johnny Carroll, a cult rockabilly star back in the fifties, and cats named Tiger, Tudy, and Hatchet, as well as a Beatles cover band called the Cellar Dwellers.

To keep the vibe going, Kirkwood laid down the law to his staff: "All policemen, all reporters, all pretty girls, all musicians, all doctors, all lawyers, and all our personal friends come in free and get free drinks forever." Now and again there were raids, but they were part of the show. Whenever the red light on the ceiling started flashing and the band shifted into the theme from the Mickey Mouse Club, it meant the cops were on their way. I always wondered if Kirkwood called them himself to keep customers entertained. He certainly was a self-promoter: To keep the Cellar and his own name in the news, he planned publicity stunts like the outdoor cookout at Trinity Park at which his staff was going to roast geese near the Duck Pond. "We had to get arrested to get in the paper," he says.

I remember him as an exceedingly polite and pleasant fellow, though there was also a less forgiving side to him. For all the hard-core types who thought of the Cellar as a second home, he was clear about the kind of people he wanted around. "No troublemakers, no queers, no pimps, no blacks, no narcotics," he says. "Those were the rules. If you did anything else strange, you were welcome." Undesirables were discouraged by a sign posted at the door announcing a cover charge of $1,000. Most people were charged only a dollar, but whenever a black man walked up, the bouncer invoked the policy — an unfortunate echo of Jim Crow.

I first reconnected with Kirkwood a year and a half ago in a trailer in the woods between Granbury and Glen Rose. It wasn't his place, he was quick to tell me; it belonged to a friend, an independent oilman. His eyes were hidden behind mirrored sunglasses, and he was dressed from head to toe in black: guayabera shirt, dungarees, pointy-toed sharkskin Beatle boots. At first I didn't notice the fancy hand-tooled silver-plated .45 automatic pistol resting on the table within his arm's reach. "Pop always said if you're going to marry a whore, it might as well be a pretty one," he said, flashing a sweet-dimpled smile.

Pop was W. C. "Pappy" Kirkwood, who operated the 2222 Club, a notorious and wholly illicit gambling casino, out of their house, a sprawling white stucco Spanish colonial mansion high on a bluff above the Jacksboro Highway. Its patrons were high rollers from all across Texas: wildcatters, pols, civic leaders. Sam Rayburn, the Speaker of the U.S. House, liked to sneak away from Bonham for a little excitement whenever he came home to visit his constituents. Pappy's wife, a trick rodeo rider named Fay Leberman, often entertained her close friend Dick Kleberg. Kirkwood recalls his father discreetly closing the gates whenever Nenetta Burton Carter, the wife of Amon Carter, the most powerful man in Fort Worth, hankered to play roulette with her girlfriends.

"My daddy was a man of integrity," Kirkwood rasped, swelling with pride. "He appointed police chiefs, all kinds of things like that, because nobody down there could trust anybody. They'd go to him and he'd tell them the deal straight up. One time Mayor F. E. Deen called Pop and said, 'By nine o'clock this morning I've got to appoint a new chief of police. Who should I appoint?' He's asking a well-known gambler running a well-known gambling joint." Kirkwood bent over and laughed hard.

"Every year on Christmas Day," he continued, "one of my chores was passing out gifts to cops. If they were 'harness bulls' and wore regular uniforms, they got a bottle of whiskey. If they had stripes — corporals, sergeants, whatever — they got a turkey. If they had hardware — captains, for instance — they'd get a ham. There'd be twenty cars lined up. I'd be running in the house, taking things out, back and forth. I thought it was hard, boring work. And then I got to thinking about it: Pop was introducing them to me. Boy, did that pay off a thousand times in the Cellar days." Before burying him in 1983, Kirkwood slipped Pappy's favorite pair of dice into his pocket. "He might run into a live one on the way," he reasoned.

Kirkwood himself was a live one of a different sort — a witness to history, it turned out. I had come to see him to talk about the Kennedy assassination, and he obliged by recalling Jack Ruby as "a Jewish wannabe hoodlum and speed freak who was like all the other joint owners from here to Casablanca" and "a pest who came to the Cellar on Saturday nights after his own place closed to hire away my waitresses." He then confirmed that Lee Harvey Oswald had washed dishes at the San Antonio Cellar upon his return from Mexico during the middle two weeks of November 1963, which prompted him to conclude that there was no conspiracy. "The mob is going to strand their hit man on the border, penniless, on the verge of doing his hit? I don't think so. Here's a guy who'd kill the president so that everyone would know he existed. It was the dawn of the celebrity age. That's really about all there is to Oswald."

He went into great detail about the circumstances that led seventeen off-duty Secret Service agents to drink at the Fort Worth Cellar until as late as five-thirty on the morning of November 22. The record remains unclear as to whether any of the president's protective detail had hangovers on that fateful day because after two week's worth of interrogation, Kirkwood finally sent the Secret Service away convinced that the club only served alcohol-flavored drinks, not the real thing. He neglected to tell them about the alcoholic "specials" given away to VIPs.

We talked of other things too, like his unsuccessful campaign for sheriff in Tarrant County in 1982 (he vowed to personally call on every criminal in Fort Worth and suggest they relocate to Dallas) and more recent escapades that were no less weird. By his own estimate, Kirkwood was involved in as many as 91 dope deals between 1988 and 1995, piloting small planes from Mexico to the U.S. on 29 missions, each time ratting out the smugglers to the feds. Just doing his part for the drug war, he explained. "I was asked in every [law enforcement] office what my motives were," he said. "I replied that it is a chance to take advantage of rewards offered by the government, to be in Mexico, and to utilize skills acquired over the years." One of those skills was flying; he'd been a student of the great American Airlines pilot Stormy Mangham.

Alas, his career as a double agent was relatively brief. After a series of runs for the FBI and U.S. Customs, he says, he was stiffed out of $4.2 million in fees and expenses he was promised for his services — a claim generally supported by Fort Worth Star-Telegram writer Mike Cochran, who sat in on dope deal discussions between Kirkwood and the feds. "There's no honor anymore," Kirkwood says, spewing out the words with disgust. "You can't take a man at his word." A source familiar with the back-and-forth has another theory: "You can't go cowboying around and running up expenses without authorization."

Whatever the case, Kirkwood could sure use the money; he's nearly broke. Medical bills are still piling up from his wife's kidney transplant last year, and he has considerable bills of his own. Last summer he was diagnosed with acute adenocarcinoma, a type of lung cancer, and it has spread like wildfire. Doctors gave him a one in three chance of living two years. "The best thing they can do," he said, "is extend my existence."

The last party at the Green Oaks reinforces that inevitability, just as it affirms the existence of an institutional memory. One look at the helicopter flyboys, hot mamas, and vaguely recalled figures of all types in attendance and I realize what an exceptionally wild bunch the regulars were. And they are paying for it, judging by the bloated faces, cautious steps, endless talk of strokes and heart attacks, and old friends referenced in the past tense. There were also priceless encounters, such as the one involving two musicians who were reintroduced after many years. The first one shook hands genially with the second, but when the second was out of earshot, the first turned to me and said, "That sumbitch stole my amp, and if it wasn't for Hatchet, I'd have killed him." Fortunately, bygones are bygones; anyway, the amp thief is too emaciated to beat up now.

At around midnight, Arvel Stricklin, an unsung Fort Worth guitarist who has set up a web site dedicated to Cellar lore, puts a CD on a boombox for mood music. It is The Cellar Tapes Volume One, and it features tracks culled from recordings made at the nightclub's Cowtown location. "Some blues, some rock, Johnny Carroll jumpin' in, some dancin' girls, and the ol' shuffle and you've got a buzz and it's too dark to see who, but they're playin' that jazz and it's gettin' late," Stricklin says. The music fills in the blanks, and the room comes alive. The smoke, the red light, nightlife as it was meant to be: It all comes back, accompanied by belly laughs and shrill shrieks.

Some time after, with wild stories swirling in the air, a former bouncer who looks every bit of four hundred pounds in his giant overalls falls from his chair and passes out briefly, signaling my own last call. "We have got to have one more next year," Kirkwood says as I exit, positively beaming from having the time of his life (and a few glasses of whiskey). "And if I'm not there, go ahead and start without me."

The Texas Monthly article is quite exaggerated. It says the Fort Worth Cellar was IN A RED LIGHT DISTRICT. False. It was only

two blocks from the Hotel Texas where JFK spent the night. The hotel is on Eighth Street. Two blocks south, the Cellar

was on Tenth Street.

Also, Kirkwood's claim that LHO worked for two days at the San Antonio Cellar was likely a fabrication by Kirkwood to get

publicity.

The mention of alcohol at the Cellar was correct in that it was illegal, but Texas was a BYOB state, and likely some customers

brought flasks to spike their Coke or 7-up.

Jack

Jack

Link to post
Share on other sites

"Many of my co-workers went there for the folk music, particularly if the act for the night

was someone they knew.

And of course EVERYBODY knew Jack Ruby, even Pat Kirkwood. But as far as is known,

he had to be a good boy. The Cellar and the 2222 Club were necessarily clean.

So cut the speculations. The Cellar was a nice place, according to my friends.

Jack"

Sorry, Mr. White, I was there in 1970-1, and the place was like any rock club, with an Allman Bros. type band wailing. I've read so much bs about that night and the place, that I don't really know what all happened (to tell the truth). I'm glad you spoke up. I didn't mean to cast any aspersions on the place...I guess I had a little romantic movie going on in my head. Thanks for your feedback. Do you know if the SS even went there, and if they did, which of them did, and what all transpired there that night. Is the whole drinking binge story more cover to get the public off the track of the SS? I know in the big picture this is a miniscule occurrence, but all the same, would love your help...Thanks to all of you, in fact!

Link to post
Share on other sites

In 1970-71, The Cellar was uptown and UPSTAIRS. You were never in the ORIGINAL CELLAR that

the SS agents attended in 1963. The 1963 Cellar was as I described it...a COFFEE HOUSE.

The entire SS Cellar episode is covered in detail in various books. The original DOWNSTAIRS CELLAR

was nothing like the later UPSTAIRS Cellar.

Several of my coworkers went there often. In the 50s and early 60s, before it was demolished,

they described it as a venue for amateurs, folk music, comedy etc. This was BEFORE rock music.

Jack

Link to post
Share on other sites
In 1970-71, The Cellar was uptown and UPSTAIRS. You were never in the ORIGINAL CELLAR that

the SS agents attended in 1963. The 1963 Cellar was as I described it...a COFFEE HOUSE.

The entire SS Cellar episode is covered in detail in various books. The original DOWNSTAIRS CELLAR

was nothing like the later UPSTAIRS Cellar.

Several of my coworkers went there often. In the 50s and early 60s, before it was demolished,

they described it as a venue for amateurs, folk music, comedy etc. This was BEFORE rock music.

Jack

You're right it was upstairs and probably a very different animal--thanks for the info--as to the books where this is discussed, which ones do you think are the closest to truth in retelling the Cellar episode?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...