Kenneth Avery is a Southern humorist with well over a thousand fans. The charm and wit in his writing span a nearly a decade.
As near as I can find, a saloon girl was in business for one thing. One thing only: Making money. Lots and lots of money. Who could blame her? Set in the early west, just when this country was being born by gold, silver, and robbers, the saloon owners knew from their sharp business sight, that there was more money to be made in their saloons besides selling cold beer and Old Red Eye. This important draw might bring in the thirsty cowpokes, but when the saloon girls came on the scene, the saloon owners made twice the scratch.
In the Old Wooly West, saloon (girls) were not called girls, but gals. And the only reason that I can tell you is that the men clientele, who had little or no manners, referred these pretty girls as the degrading title of gals. Yes, the saloon girls have walked a long way baby.
Look at most saloons. They mostly use wall dressings as paintings of semi-naked women hung behind the bar (which drew men, thirsty or not) to keep the thirsty men customers keeping buying booze that was on hand and it was on hand all of the time. But in a few sleazier saloons, everything was smooth, the pretty girls, the friendly atmosphere, but when it came to the booze, these shifty saloon owners spiked their whiskey with water in order to make the amount of whiskey go father. It worked every time because the men customers never knew the difference because they were too twisted to think straight.
I wish that I knew the facts about how it really was when the Old West was young. But leave it to man's endless imagination and we could have something. For me, I believe that the TV westerns, Rawhide, Rifleman, Gunsmoke, Bronco, Wanted: Dead or Live, to name a few, were severly-overly exaggerated when it caame to the "rough necks" and how the God-fearing folk would either run and hide to save their lives or just keep their business to themselves. The so-called ruffians would head to the bar, have a few cold ones, and a few swigs of Red Eye, talk a little to some "Bar Room Beauty," for a spell and talk with her while buying drinks for this lovely woman.
Sure enough like ripened grapes, the air would grow stuffy and two drovers from opposing cattle drives would fall into those one word leads to another and before long, the bar room floor would clear like clouds in a summer rainstorm and the drovers would stare at each other in the eye and secretly-hope that the other was a bad shot. Some lived. Many didn't. But guess who took the blame? The saloon girls. They were convenient. Expendable. Man, how sorry can one person be thought of?
To clear-up the myth that all saloon girls, not gals, were mean-hearted and greedy, some were and most of them just wanted to work to save money for raising their children who were never mentioned to the saloon owner and the saloon girl saw a portion of her tips go to the trusty female friend who babysit for the saloon girl to earn bread.
Were these girls pretty? Not really. But oh how beautiful the vast majority was. My favorite saloon girls were the brunettes. It was something in the way they carried themselves--asserted, storng, not to be pushed around, that kept my int rest. Their lips, red with lipstick of that day that came from a traveling peddler, used that tool to increase the men's desire to have a pretty woman's attention and have her talk to him. And although the men who shoveled-up the cash for the saloon girl to drink with him, bought the lie about her when she would lie ever so softly and say, "sure, big boy. You are the only man for me." There is no accounting how many times this line would be used by saloon girls by gullible, lonely men from off the trail.
Speaking strictly from a personal standpoint, sure, I loved the saloon girls. But what really drives me down to dark depression is how the saloon cities of 2021 have been rebuilt to become average tourist attractions. And most of today's saloon girls make a few dollars over minimum wage and maybe a family who dropped-off the highway to see what a modern saloon was like, would let the saloon girl pose for a photo with her and if the family had a big heart, they would hand her a big tip.
God only knows that these girls deserve it.
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© 2021 Kenneth Avery