I’ve got some absurd drinking stories from my day, but this one from before my day might take the cake.
Hold on a second while I put on a proper British narrative voice. There we go.
Initially constructed by the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company as a company store, the original Royal Stores building was constructed around 1910. Going through a number of guises before being acquired by Domac in the middle of the Century, then DOMAC moved to a new premises on Harris Ave. At which point Charlie Trask opened a bar in the old building.
A while back I wrote a overview of just about every bar I could think of in Grand Falls and Windsor, and it included this little tidbit:
Charlie Trask operated a bar known as the Downtowner sometime in the 1970’s. I believe It was located on the upper floor of the old Domac building on the lower end of High Street. Allegedly this place sometimes had strippers brought in from such exotic places as Norris Arm. I do not believe this bar was open for very long.
There is no allegedly about it, I have my evidence to corroborate my eyewitnesses, there were strippers at the Downtowner, and hold onto your hats, an attempt was made at establishing a prestigious post secondary vocational institute there. Yup, a training school for budding young strippers. I guess the proprietor saw that a strip club would have a lot of downtime, on weekdays, daytime etc, so it would be a great use to train some local talent. When I say local talent I mean it, the proposed stripper (and go-go dancer) training college in adds in the paper even noted that “Newfoundlanders prefer Newfoundland Talent.” On closer examination it looks like Charlie Trask had the idea for some sort of Newfoundland burlesque show, picture Gypsy with more accordion music. Of course it was only a matter of time before such an establishment would run afoul of (foreboding music) the Town Fathers.
At this point things start to feel like a Chris DeBurgh song, not the one about the train, or the Lady in Red (unless the her outfit was red), except in Newfoundland she’d probably be called Patsy. It was early 1972. At least one local girl had received some instruction at the stripper training school, and this was the big night. She came all the way from Norris Arm, and she took off her clothes. Soon she found her self charged with some sort of indecency and was before the Judge. The Town Fathers and the local Clergy had acted, but ultimately she got off with it. Unfortunately for the Downtowner, such moral outrage was going to put a damper on the stripper training college, and the adds featuring scantily clad ladies disappear from the paper.
Not too long after the Downtowner became the Strand. It may have been an offshoot of the more well known bar of the same name out in St. John’s. Eventually the manager of the Strand , Ed Hennebury, bought it in 1975 and changed the name to Ed’s Lounge. It seems Ed’s specialized in country music and darts. I don’t really know what happened to Ed’s Lounge, at least businesswise, but two other bars operated out the of same building in 1977: the Centralite Lounge and Black Tower (yes like the wine), I don’t know what happened to either of them, but I do believe the building was demolished when they put in Scott Avenue. Thus, there isn’t anywhere to put a marker to commemorate the site of Grand Fall’s first and only strip club, um, I mean the first Royal Stores building.
I’ll see myself out. If anybody needs me I’ll be rewriting that earlier bar article.
Seems I can remember something about the building being burned down or damaged significantly by fire. Is this correct or is my memory failing???
Joe Champion.. Yes, you are right. I remember it well. The fire started in the early evening, and destroyed most of the interior of the building. As I can remember, there was quite a crowd on hand taking it all in.
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Again a very interesting post. The evolution of the town is remarkable and in this case humorous and exciting. You are doing a great job Bryan. I find that the early history was captivating and rather exciting in a living experience so to speak. Sadly the current metamorphosis is about as exciting as a five day old stale beer. John Prine captured the current state of affairs very accurately with his “Hello in there”, a commentary on loneliness and indifference. Sadly the same comment can apply to a number of towns these days, a walk through any mall or public venue where excitement has been vacuumed out of people’s souls. Many don’t realize they are already dead hooked on endless episodes of one show or another or sitting among friends each with their addictive phones staring at the screens and relegating one another to what was with accompanying indifference. Where is a good size meteor when you need one. Keep up the good work Bryan. You offer the reader hope.
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