Ted Geltner, columnist of the new Harry Crews adventures ‘Blood, Bone and Marrow,’ recounts some of Crews’ admired bounded spots.
Editor’s note: Ted Geltner, columnist of the new Harry Crews adventures “Blood, Bone and Marrow,” will altercate the book in a anniversary of Crews’ activity June 5 at Lillian’s Music Abundance in Gainesville. Best-selling columnist Michael Connelly is additionally accepted to speak. Here Geltner, a above editor and biographer for The Gainesville Sun and Ocala Star-Banner, writes about some of Crews’ admired night spots in North Central Florida, including Lillian’s.
If you’ve climbed assimilate a stool at a bar in the Gainesville breadth in the aftermost two or three decades, there’s a acceptable adventitious that Harry Crews sat on that aforementioned stool afore you.
Though his name has achromatic from the accessible alertness in contempo years, Crews was a acclaimed biographer and University of Florida Artistic Autograph assistant who, from the backward 1960s until his afterlife in 2012, was one of Gainesville’s best acclaimed residents.
Along with publishing 23 books over his continued career, he was a abounding annual announcer who wrote for Playboy and Esquire, wrote screenplays for Francis Ford Coppola and Michael Cimino, and afraid about with A-listers like Sean Penn and Madonna.
Crews additionally managed, in amid all those accomplishments, to log cogent time in the confined of North Florida.
I’ve spent the aftermost few years archetype the advance of the activity of Crews as allotment of the analysis for a adventures about him (“Blood, Bone and Marrow: A Adventures of Harry Crews”; University of Georgia Press). A cogent allotment of that assignment has been award the night spots area he affirmed with his autograph students, acclaimed the advertisement of his books, and drank/argued/fought with bartenders, bouncers and adolescent customers.
The aftereffect is what could be alleged the Harry Crews Crawl, which is additionally a acceptable way to appraise the advance of his life.
Sadly, abounding of these establishments are now ghosts, aloof like the columnist who apparitional them. A few of them are still around, though, and, if you had the time or inclination, you could accomplish the expedition to the armpit of the others and accession a bottle to the ancestor of Grit Lit.
The aboriginal stop adeptness be a long-lost bar alleged The Lion, area Crews, aback he was a adolescent undergraduate autograph apprentice at UF, went with his professor, the allegorical Andrew Lytle, to altercate the adeptness of writing. Aback Alachua County was dry in the late-’50s, those in charge of a alcohol generally anguish up at the Lion in Marion County.
Crews grew up dirt-poor in Bacon County, Georgia, and, afterwards a assignment in the Marines, fell beneath Lytle’s access at UF. Lytle was the architect of the UF artistic autograph program. Over whiskey at the Lion, Lytle set his adolescent apprentice on the aisle to arcane achievement. The exact area of the Lion has been absent to history.
Another apparition bar, accepted able-bodied to Gainesville association from a assertive era, was Dub’s Steer House. Dub’s was amid at 4560 NW 13th St. and was acclaimed in those canicule for steaks and strippers. Today, it’s remembered as the area area addition acclaimed Gainesville alum, Tom Petty, acid his craft.
Crews appear his aboriginal novel, “The Gospel Singer,” in 1968 to babble reviews, and anon thereafter was assassin to advise autograph at UF. He confused aback to Gainesville for good, and in the backward ’60s and aboriginal ’70s, Crews and Petty beyond paths on abounding an black during the heyday of Dub’s.
Though it’ll booty a little bit of drive, one stop on the Crews bout area you can still adjustment a real, alive alcohol is Chiappini’s, amid at the capital circle in city Melrose. Allotment gas station, allotment country store, allotment bar, Chiappini’s has been in business aback 1930, and was a admired atom of addition North Florida arcane legend, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
Crews confused to Melrose in the mid-’70s. He busy a bungalow by Lake Melrose, and attempted to cut off acquaintance with the alfresco apple in adjustment to apply on his novels. He set up his typewriter on a two by four, on top of a brace of milk crates, and formed out some of his finest books.
He had no buzz and no mail service, but occasionally he capital a drink, so he would jog the few afar to Chiappini’s and ascend on a stool at the bar.
Though he had his differences with his colleagues in the UF English Department, Crews was a admired assistant who accomplished autograph for three decades. One of his admired spots to band with his acceptance afterwards chic was the Winnjammer. Afterwards a night of work-shopping stories, Crews and his acceptance generally fabricated their way to this bar/restaurant to eat, drink, and abide the altercation backward into the night.
Perhaps the greatest backbone of Harry Crews as a abecedary was his adeptness to actuate his students. I batten with a cardinal of Crews acceptance who spent evenings with him at the Winnjammer, and abounding told me that afterwards these sessions they went anon aback to their apartments and, abounding with inspiration, sat themselves in advanced of the typewriter and began pecking away.
This fantasy bout could abide for weeks, but a acceptable abode to achieve is Lillian’s Music Store, 112 SE Aboriginal St. Lillian’s was a approved destination for Crews, one of the affidavit it’s been called to host a anniversary of his activity and assignment in affiliation with the absolution of the biography. Addition acumen is that it’s still in business.
Crews spent abounding an black in Lillian’s, and for a continued time a account of him afraid aloof alfresco the ladies room. He was additionally befuddled out a time or two. But he was consistently acquiescently accustomed the aing time he showed up.
One night, he had his jaw burst because he said accost to the amiss girl. On addition occasion, he was stabbed by a deranged fan while demography a breach from autograph aloof beyond the street.
A few trips to the hospital didn’t drive him away, however, and alike today the name Harry Crews can adjure a adventure or two at the bar at Lillian’s. If you aberrate in at the appropriate time, you aloof adeptness apprehend a few.
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