Graham Central Station-Phoenix AZ- 1980

 

station

 

I was living in Phoenix, Arizona in 1980 and going to a tech school for electronics and was 19 years old. My twin brother had called me. He asked me about moving down there from Lake Tahoe, Nevada. I enrolled into a tech school and it was the same school he was going to at the time. Being a wild a crazy kid and looking for adventure and girls, we found a bar to release some wildnest in us. We talked with some other students about the hotspot’s in the city. If your gay then go down 7th Ave, if not, there is a bar called Grand Central Station that is enormous. My brother and I decided that enormous would enhance our choices of maybe finding a girl for the night, maybe two if we were lucky. I will give you my vision the first night I went to this bar. Remind you that this bar was the second largest bar at the time in the States, second to Micky Gilly’s bar in Texas I believe. It was a mall at one time converted into a bar. We proceeded through the front doors and I was amazed. On both sides were store shops. One selling cowboy hats, another selling boots, a barber shop for men, beauty salon for the ladies. We walked further and to my right I saw a sign for the bathroom. I walked inside and what I saw there was astonishing. There was a girl shinning cowboy boots. She was an attractive looking business woman. I bet she did quite well doing this job. We walked further into the establishment and came upon the first section of this bar. This room is where live bands played country music. I was born in Maine and country music wasn’t into our vocabulary. If you walked past this room and go through another doorway it opened up into a great room. Wholly Smokes! This room was so large that it had twenty female bartenders. The bar was shaped like a horseshoe and went around a hardwood floor. There was people and woman from wall to wall.

This bar, Grand Central Station had become our bar of choice. I can tell you from experience that this was where most of the college kids were hanging during the time. I don’t know how I even survived school back then. Monday’s were for roller skating at the bar. It was really weird because people would skate in a circle and others would dance in the middle with no skates. We had so much fun at this bar and I met a lot of woman that I couldn’t tell you their name’s today. It was the times, fun in the sun. Tuesday’s were a good time too. If you had a college id card you would get in free. You could drink keg beer free from six to nine at night. The boys and I would also find the dentist chair in the corner where they mix drinks in your mouth with your head cocked back. Two dollars and fifty cent’s and I would do this twice. You know I really forget about school on those days.party

There was another bar that we would hit on Wednesday’s. Mr Lucky’s- This establishment was wild too. It had three floor’s and each floor had live bands. Country on one floor, the next was rock and roll, and the other at the time was punk rock. Phew, that place was Crazzzzzzzy!

Thursday’s were another adventure because we would go to the PHONE COMPANY. This establishment had telephone’s at each table with a numbered sign at each table. If you saw someone you were attractive too you would make a phone call. It was great that I got a call once from Madonna, not the singer but a Mexican beauty. You know the Latino woman were very attractive. This place was really a hoot and another journey into the week of fun.

Friday was a day of study, usually a friend would come over and we would sit by the swimming pool and study and drink Blatz beer all afternoon. Saturday was a day for recreation and a trip to the Salt River was what it was all about. You would rent an inner tube at a local gas station and then go to a rental place to get a ride to the top of the river. Millions of people would float down the Salt/Verde river and we would drink beer all the way down. Man, that was a great time. Fun in the Sun.horse bar

Sunday was usually a day of rest and healing the body. I really loved the time spent in Arizona and was saddened by the departure from that State. I really had become accustomed to the climate and people. I think some day I’m going to retire out there, Hopefully my wife will love to join me. I can see the two of us wearing cowboy boots and hats. We will have leather skin and a drink in our hands selling turquoise  jewelry in some flea market. Life has been a journey but a great journey with a lot of flips and flops but in the later years I’m hoping for a continuation of love of the land and country . Have a great day everyone. I’m going off dreaming somewhere.

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

 

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8 comments

  1. Hey ya’ll I was a bouncer there in 1982!! Me being a female bouncer it was an awesome place to work and the people who ran the place were great too!! sorry that the 33rd and Indian School bar has closed too bad it was awesome!!!

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    1. What was the little bar off to the side to the right of one of the bar stations that played pop music? It seemed it was constantly trying to re-invent itself (and also changed names a few times or ownership?). If you walked into Grahams front door and took an immediate left you’d end up in that bar which had pop music dancing and one large/long rectangular bar serving island with chairs (maybe 50+?) around it 360 degrees?

      Besides all the TONS of promotional events ALWAYS going on at Grahams ergo, Long Necks $1.25 from beer wells on ice served by girls with minimalistic outfits on from 7-9pm or whatever, and always some liquor co visiting doing the same thing bringing a boat of girls in bathing suits sending you off with some glow in the dark plastic shot glass or similar necklace sporting the (usually) NEW drink concoction logo, or yes, as mentioned a lot the “dentist’s chair”….besides all that and the pretty rare fact that just keeping a bar of any normal size going without going “under” until someone else picked it up and tried some new theme…that Grahams on 33rd in Phx was some serious real estate and one big square devoid of additional rooms or sections hidden from other section’s views etc (it was just a big square or rectangular shaped giant room (besides that one entirely different bar on the NE corner of it) and it STILL managed to stay in biz (AND PACKED WALL TO WALL every weekend). Maybe because it was really the only country bar around at least within a very very long distance from the next one (which would have to have been Mr. Lucky’s).

      But being on 33rd and Indian School road was, to me no at ALL related to “Cowboyland or territory” lol. And that was the funniest part of the whole thing and maybe why it’s longevity surpassed 100’s of other bars within a 25 miles radius? I loved the place for the record and went there for years with large groups of friends lacking any hat or ever wearing a pair of Wranglers.

      I keep saying using the word “funny” so I’ll get to that adjective turned verb to a host of maybe thousands of moped riding, pizza delivery driving, tennis shoe or Jordan wearing guys turned instant self-proclaimed cowboys, honing in on their swagger in their Mervins bought Wranglers all with the x amount of washes with the candy arsed plastic can of Hawkin’s chewin’ tobacco in the back pocket to make some sort of statement from the giant round white ring permanently worn into that back pocket via a big white round ring of …cowboy culture? But funny wasn’t that.

      Funny was running into friends you hadn’t seen in a long time (because this was the place that definitely happened at as it was the pre-internet analog version of social networking minus the Facebook name. And those friends ya ran into… lmao….well, just where in the hell did they get those heavy midwestern ergo Alabama meets Texas, blended into attempts at a John Wayne tone and sometimes even quotes from westerns incorporated into their new ehmm “Makeovers???” THAT was the funniest part of that magical building. The power it possessed to possess old acquaintances or high school friends who lived in tract homes and still belonged to the KISS ARMY lol.

      I suppose or if I had to guess why it was so long lived and successful – (besides being a cool place to easily come home with a different sweetie each weekend till ya got into trouble with the sister of the last one. And/or the well-run and quick to git yer order “Bartending staff” possessing the tallest plastic, clear containers showing off the FD&C colors of those classic bottomless “Long Island Ice Teas” until they turned into the more popular “Graham’s Texas Tea”.

      I’d guess that it was the fact that you could escape the otherwise mundane selection of “cookie cutter” (here one day/gone the next) clubs and become something or someone out of a classic Western movie touting any amount of “twang” to help deliver yer’ pickup lines which were making that ranch property you owned up near Bumble Bee AZ grow larger, and have more horses as the night went on. Anything to avoid leaving stagg and defeated by an achy breaky heart… AND finally, (and maybe the biggest reason that might have even kept that place alive alone (at that location even?) on it’s on merit was because your secret WAS safe there. And that was because EVERYONE else who had parked their horses in the same lot out front excepted your In Character “character” once you entered the Station, as they too all rode the “same moped”.

      I often wonder if the same friends I ran into that were numerous and loyal “punch the leather ball to measure your manhood machine” enthusiasts or professional coaches to girls they’d bought drinks for on that mechanical bull on the other side of that big bar…Do they STILL have those heavy-twangy cowboy accents from being born in Phoenix or Mesa or…?
      The Address (just googled for a bit) was Grahams Central Station 4025 N 33rd Ave, Phoenix, Az. 85017. Thankya kindly to ya’ll fer spurrin’ the “hey” ride back yonder a spell to some old memories.

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