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THE HISTORY OF SPENARD

THE HISTORY OF THE FLY BY NIGHT CLUB

MR. WHITEKEYS BIO

 

A Short History Of
Spenard, Alaska

 

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 one time."

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, 1959.

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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