I Only Wanted Chicken

Muriel Tate (left) and her children (back row, l-r): Earl Jr. and Michael; (front row, l-r) Terrance and Paul in 1974. Not pictured: Lonetta and Raymond. Photo courtesy of Muriel Tate

Muriel Tate (left) and her children (back row, l-r): Earl Jr. and Michael; (front row, l-r) Terrance and Paul in 1974. Not pictured: Lonetta and Raymond. Photo courtesy of Muriel Tate

I always like to think about the fun one could have around the late 1960s. We could dance the night away. The clubs you could go to if you wanted to dress up or dress down. On St. Anthony there was the Elks. The music was great, atmosphere divine, food down home. My mouth waters thinking about it. Greens, pork hocks and navy beans, corn bread, tossed salad, and let’s don’t forget the sweet potato pie!

On University Avenue there was the Celebrity. One dressed up for this club. This was a hunting club. Men hunting women and women hunting men. You could hear all the gossip and find out who was creeping with whom.

A little further down on University there was an after-hours club upstairs over the Road Buddies Restaurant. All the uppity and beautiful people hung out there. This was the place for conversation and dancing. There was great music. You could dance all night until the music stopped.

Still on University there was Porky’s. Porky’s had the best chicken, almost. Down from Porky’s there was Sandy’s. Sandy’s had the best onion rings in Saint Paul. They were heavenly.
Moving off of University onto Rondo Avenue, now called Concordia Avenue, there was the Chadsworth Inn where the railroad men hung out. Then there was the VFW. Over on Dale Street there was Jim William’s Club and the Turtle Club. The Turtle Club is the club I wish to tell you about.

It was a hot night and I was pregnant . . . very, very pregnant with my fourth child. My Scrabble partner got tired about 2 a.m. I was restless and still couldn’t sleep. I went to the front porch and waited for sleep and none came. So I called Patricia, my second Scrabble player, to ask if she would walk with me to the Turtle Club and get some chicken. Patricia was hungry so she said “heck yes.” Oh, did I mention Patricia was pregnant too? She decided to drive instead of walk.

Off we went with my $4 for chicken...chicken, here we come. For my $4 I could get half a chicken, salad, fries, and buttered toast.

By this time it was 3:30 a.m. My husband worked nights and would be home around 4:30 a.m. or so. Hmmm, we might even save him a wing. We arrived at the Turtle Club about 3:40 a.m. and the club was jumping. I walked to the kitchen area and ordered my chicken with all the trimmings. Then Patricia and I sat down and waited for my . . . oops, our chicken. We saw some friends we knew and started talking with them, when all of a sudden there was a very loud boom. It was a raid and the police busted in the door. We were surrounded and had to stand against the wall. I only wanted chicken.

The police said everyone with identification could leave, but I only had my $4. Patricia had her license and she left and went to my house and brought back my identification. Only after she came back was I allowed to move away from the wall. As I was walking out the door I was given my chicken and it smelled most delicious. You probably want to know if I ever went back to the Turtle Club. Yes I did, because I only wanted CHICKEN.

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