As authors we know that often times all it takes is an intriguing fact to fire our imagination and add more interest to our stories. Since saloons are synonymous with the American West, I'm posting a list of interesting facts and trivia about those old western icons.
* In the early West, men in most places outnumbered women by at least three to one — sometimes more. In California in 1850, 90% of the population was male. Saloon or dance-hall girls were hired to entertain the guests, sing for them, dance with them, keep the lonely men company and” chase away their cares.”
* Dance Halls offered customers dance tickets for sale, the proceeds split between the dance hall girls and the saloon owner. After a dance, the girls would invite the gentlemen to the bar where they would make another commission from the sale of the men’s drinks.
* Surprisingly, saloon or dance-hall girls were very rarely prostitutes. They tended to be in only the sleaziest class of saloons. Though the “respectable” ladies considered the saloon girls “fallen,” most of the girls wouldn’t be caught dead associating with an actual prostitute.
* Even though the saloon girls might have been scorned by “proper ladies,” they counted on respect from the males. Proprieties of treating the saloon girls as ladies were strictly observed, not only because most Western men tended to revere all women, but because the saloon keeper demanded it.
* Many saloon girls were from mills and farms, enticed by posters and handbills advertising high wages, easy work and fancy clothing. These women, even though of upstanding morals, were forced to earn a living in an era that offered few means for women to do so.
* Hickok, a professional lawman, gambler and gunfighter, was killed on August 2, 1876 by Jack Mc Call, who shot him in the back of the head in Saloon No. 10, in Deadwood, South Dakota while Wild Bill was playing cards. His hand — aces and eights, according to tradition — has become known as the “dead man’s hand.”
Thanks for stopping in and “bellying up to the bar!”