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Before we get into 114 S. Liberty I want to give you more information on 110-112 S Liberty.
When I was looking for the answer to Frank’s question about the address on Mr. Milner’s business card in my Mr.Cecil notes I found my notes on the Top Hat Club.
Let go back and revisit this story
When I was working late one night at my office at the Pythian I got a call from a friend to meet a group at Zeto’s. Zeto’s was an
Italian Restaurant it like the Downtown Old Country was a great idea with good food but before it’s time. Downtown was going through an imagine problem “ gangs, prostitutes and homeless beggars” which was so untrue.
That night we got to talking about the history of the buildings Downtown. I asked about the upper floors of 110 and was told that if I would come back the next night we would explore.
The next night four of us met equipped with flashlights not knowing what to expected. Unlocking the door to the stairway between 110-112 and 114 that gave us excess to the upper floors of both buildings. Flipping the light switch you got it no lights.Flash lights on we discover another locked door on the second floor this one lead into the old Buddie’s . Flip the switch and two lights come on it was so eerie. Walking around you could almost hear the balls clicking ,smell the cigarette smoke and the stale beer. Back in the corner the outline on the floor where the Coca-Cola machine once sat.
Locking up we headed to the third floor behind this locked door we really walked back in time. This had been the Top Hat Club’s from the late 1930’s-1950’s. The walls had insignias of various sororities and fraternities. There was a raised band stand on the south wall then there were lockers on the back east wall.
As we walked back downstairs I knew I was due another visit with Mr. Cecil.
The next day I headed to Buddie’s to see what I could find out about the Top Hat Club. Not disappointed he not only have the answers but pictures.
“Oh that was the happening place from the 30’s-50’s that
was when the music was good.” He laughed
“Mr. Wysong was the manager of the club he would come visit me in the pool hall, nice man. We talked about the music.
There were many a times when the local patrol officer would come get me if I was not busy and we would go up to the club. Remember at the time I was working at Buddie’s and Paul’s downstairs .” With a wink he said “ I was just a kid.”
He went on to show me pictures of some of the bands that played at the club. Mr. Charlie Baker Sr.’s band was one the favorites.
Before I talk about the bands I need to tell you a bit of history you may not know. While the U.S. Air Force Cadets were stationed at McKellar field for training they were housed at Union University in Adams Hall. At night the Cadets would frequent the downtown establishments. Top on the list was the Top Hat Club where they could listen to music, talk to some of the young ladies of Jackson and dance. Let me explain the ladies of the Red Cross would have refreshments and would act as chaperones for the young ladies who volunteered to dance and be a friend to these brave young men.
Back to the bands Mrs Baker told Mr. Charlie really liked playing at the Top Hat Club. She told me that he was the front man not a real musician .“all of the talent went to our son.” She said with pride. She told me what would surprise many people was that Oliver Jones was a very talented horn player. After the cadets left town the Top Hat Club was the place for private parties thus the wall art.
After talking to Mr. Cecil I got the keys and went back up to the third floor. This time I stood in the middle of the old dance floor
“Time looking”. I could hear the music and imagine the laughter and the dancing couples. Thinking of all the good times this building had seen between the pool hall and the Top Hat Club.
If these wall could talk.
Of course since I wrote this story 110-112 S Liberty ,the Tubbs Building has had new owners and many cosmetic and structural changes.
Downtown Wanderings 2002 d n english