Joe Spenard c. 1917
Spenard is the sleaziest part of Anchorage.
It's filled with bars, strip joints, liquor stores, and massage
parlors. A 1957 ad heralded the appearance of La-Wanda The
Flame Goddess at the Club Mambo. Nothing has changed.
There's the office of a dentist named Dr. Paine!
There's PJ's--"A strip joint, but it's a CLASS strip
joint." There's a pawn shop with a portable sign that
once advertised a Mother's Day special on Ammo. There's a
massage parlor with a portable sign that announced "Playmates,"
until someone removed the "L." It's now been nearly
a year and the sign still reads "PAYMATES."
Spenard is more than a town--it's a state of
mind. It's hilarious, it's always entertaining, it's not particularly
dangerous, and it's ALL ALASKAN. You gotta love this place!
Spenard used to be it's own town with it's
own post office. It was named for Joe Spenard who drove "the
Yellow Car of the City Express" in the early 1900's.
Nobody really remembers Joe. He was long gone even by the
1930's. There was a 3 mile winding wagon trail through the
woods from Anchorage to Spenard Lake. That became Spenard
Road, and the town of Spenard stretched along both sides of
"The Miracle Mile" from the top of Romig Hill to
Dead Man's Curve. We once asked an old timer why they called
it Dead Man's Curve. He said, " 'Cause a guy died there
had always been a bar on the shores of Lake Spenard. It started
with a summer pavilion in the days of Joe Spenard himself
and has continued with only short interruptions for changes
of ownership, bankruptcies, and fires both planned and unplanned.
Some of Anchorage's oldest musicians remember
a New Year's Eve party at the Idle Hour on Spenard Lake in
the 1930's. The road crew plowed the road which was not maintained
in winter, and the whole town attended. The band was the last
to leave. There were only two cars of drunk musicians on the
only road to town with no other traffic, and they managed
to crash into each other.
A promotional appearance
by "Elvis Parsley" at the Spenard Piggly Wiggly,
In between actual nightclub operations, the
building was rented out for private functions. Mr. Whitekeys'
Orchestra and Chorus was once hired to play a benefit for
the Anchorage Police Department so they could buy some K-9
Corps dogs. Except for the band, everybody there was a cop.
The bartenders were cops. The waitresses were cops. The coat
check girls were cops. The doormen were cops. All the dancers
and drinkers were cops. I brought my hot new girlfriend, and
her brand new expensive down coat was stolen from the coat
check room. Old Joe would have been proud.
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