The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, July 1946 - April, 1947 Page: 35
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Reminiscences of Sour Lake
take this wholehearted man in and furnish him a bed and two
In saloons, Sour Lake ranked high. These were of all sizes
and quality; they had appropriate names. There was the House
of Lords, a place where the big boys gathered and played pool
and rowdied around. There was the Derrick Saloon, and there
was the Big Thicket Saloon, and there was Dad's Saloon; this
last was a noted hangout for blacklegs and cutthroats. Con-
sidering the character of the town, it is almost a waste of
words to say that the saloons were well patronized; but the
extent to which the patronage sometimes went was an eye
opener to even an old denizen. After payday, when a gang of
pipe-liners came to town, especially if it happened to be a chilly,
drizzly evening, the sidewalk for a block or more would be filled
with jabbering, reeling men.
As for other evidences of heavy drinking, there were plenty
of these too, such as empty flasks by the wayside. It was a sight
I never did quite become indifferent to, the number and variety
of whiskey bottles lying in the weeds along the paths through
the oil field.
The saloons served other purposes than mere drinking places.
They were recreation centers, of a sort. Here often men met
and talked and played dominoes and transacted business with-
out drinking much, if any. Also, when a man was cold, he
could go in one and warm. They were convenient places too in
which to get checks cashed. Dad's Saloon had the reputation
of cashing a check when no other place in town would.
In the back end of nearly every saloon was a gambling house.
They were all wide open and, like the saloons, did a land-office
business. My experience with these was limited, but what ex-
perience I did have was to the effect of putting my money back
Of skin game places and other tough joints, they were like-
wise there in plenty. Judging from general appearances, they
too were there for something besides their health.
Apology may be due for so little being said of the gentler
side of the picture; for a gentler side there indubitably was.
Friendships were strong; generosity flourished; and deeds of
noble conduct in many ways were to be seen constantly. But
it is not these softer things that the old-timer usually recalls
when his mind runs back on the past in this place. The rip-
roaring side of life was typical of Sour Lake in the boom days.
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, July 1946 - April, 1947, periodical, 1947; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101117/m1/51/: accessed March 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.