Mr. Hammond had the best juke box with jazz and blues in the entire state....Then he built the new place. It was the finest night club physically. The nicest!
...I was born in Detroit, but my family background was in Kentucky. We moved to Louisville when I was like 12 or 13. I did one year at old Parkland Junior High. And, then we moved out to PRP and I went to Valley High School because PRP High School wasn’t built yet. Then I went to Murray on a journalism scholarship for one year, got involved with theatre people, and had too much fun. And my Methodist mother did not approve and made me come home and go to U of L where, guess what? I got a theatre scholarship!
I first met Mr. Joe Hammond around 1965. He was working at a bar café on, you better check me on this with somebody else that’s old, it was on Magazine Street. It was across from a bar called Bucket and Lena’s. And, we were students at University of Louisville. We went in there because Mr. Hammond had the best juke box with jazz and blues in the entire state.
Then he built the new place. It was the finest night club physically. The nicest! You walk in the back door from the parking lot. And you have the wrap around bar, on your rightish. Mr. Hammond’s office was on the extreme right, through a door. And the bartenders always seemed shorter than they really were because I believe the floor was a little bit lower on their side of the bar than on the customer’s side of the bar.
We had this friend that worked there every once in a while and we called him Hobo. And Hobo was big and strong. And I was much much lighter than I am now. And Hobo would reach from his side of the bar and pick me up and put me over inside that bar. That was just an amazing feat in my mind because he was so strong. And, I tell you who was a bartender there for a while too. One of Stitches son's. The boxer Rudell. One of Rudell Stitches son’s was a bartender there for a while. And, I believe he is still alive.
So back to the physical structure. They had a restaurant in the building, the side room. They used to serve dinners there. There was food on that one side for a while. Then they stopped it and moved in pool tables. Of course, it was carpeted. And when you walked in the back door, you had all the old regulars there every afternoon sitting at the bar. And, you had tables and booths on your left. And up a couple of steps from those, you had more tables. Then at the street end, you had the band stand. Oh, it was just lovely. It was our Cheers for my sister and me. And you had some Louisville Jefferson County politicians, coming in, schmoozing. You had people, like myself, who worked in the West End, at different schools, going in the afternoons after work and also going in at nights for the bands. There were not that many white women that went there back in those days. And there was one older man that shall remain nameless, who was heard to refer to me, my friend and my sister as incidental white whores. So we named ourselves The IWWs (laugh). But we were not. We were there for the relaxation, the drink, the conversation and the music. Hazel Miller was lead singer there for years. And, of course Tanita Gaines sang there too. And, Billy Clements, was guitarist there. He played for my husband’s memorial service in Louisville.
My husband was Otis Franklin. And Otis taught around town at several places when he returned to the city from Atlanta. And we were married for almost 34 years. And, he passed in 2010. He went to Central, because that’s the only high school he could go to. He bought his clothes at Levy’s. Because that’s the only place that blacks were allowed to shop, there and Byck’s, I believe. He went to K-State. He would be 80 right now. He was born in 1938. And, I still have his college buddies as my friends. And, I still have his daughter, my step daughter, who is like my daughter, and her 3 boys and her husband. They live in Atlanta. And she is precious. And, I feel rich being her step mother and step grandmother to her three sons.
We never had any real problems with being an interracial couple. We had it fine. We got married in 1977. And, we owned a home in Crescent Hill. And see, that was something I learned about Mr. Hammond in the late 60’s, early 70’s. I learned that there were African Americans living in Crescent Hill. I never knew that. All along Brownsboro Rd. That’s where Mr. Hammond lived. I passed by it (his house) all the time. I knew which house it was. And, of course he drove that Rolls Royce. Do you know about the Rolls Royce? It was a Silver Cloud. That was the model. Oh, he was a piece of work, I tell ya. He was pure class. He was MISTER Hammond...