During the roaring twenties, Tijuana became non-stop action. Americans flooded the tiny border town during probation to gamble and drink. By the 50s and 60s its reputation was known all over for it strip joints, floor shows and cheap bars and beer. It became folklore of wide reputations and spawned many wild stories of bars like Sans Souci, Redd Fox (the place where the comedian Redd Fox started) Clubs Unicorn, Aloha and Bambi. The Donkey Show was born in TJ … and yes, it is true. However, drinks were outrageous in these places. A 6-ounce bottled ‘unknown’ beer cost $1 and it always came open. Gee … could it be they kept refilling the empties?
But TJ was also known for, the famed Long Bar. Oh yes!!!
The bar was the full length of the place. It was the width of a football field if not more and elbow room only. The noise level was always high of slamming shooters down and Mexican music. At the end was a 12 foot surfboard that hung high on the back wall, whoever could power down 24 shots of Tequila and climb up the wall and untie the ropes could have it.
Since the drinking age of Mexico was 18, it became the spot for kids that were not 21. If you looked 18, you could cross the border. However, TJ cops hated the pot smoking long hairs, so one had to pin their hair up and stuff it under a baseball cap to enter even if it only touched your ears. Brilcream, (A Little Dab Will Do You), was used to slick the hair back, which was still cool, since it had not quite gone out of style yet.
Walking down the main drag on a Friday or Saturday night, Revolucion was like old west, street fights were common, people were trying to sell you everything from a fake silver ring – to their sister, and almost all the cops were on the take. A $5 bribe was the common price for getting out of going to jail if you were caught being drunk and disorderly.
A pitcher of beer and a shot of cheap tequila was $1. Sawdust packed the corners, and very sticky wooden booths and tables were gouged with initials of those that had to leave a remembrance they were there. It was not a place for women unless you were of the social type. And even that, most were to scared to enter. A carnie hacker was always outside, shoving people inside.
For a buck, one could get a picture like you see above.
The restroom, all I can say, the smell gagged you walking in. A long tile trough with a few rusty pipes dripped a dark-brown water to flush the gallons of urine that was being discharged every second. An old man sat in the corner (restroom valet) that always had a toothless smile with flies buzzing around his head sold gum by the piece, scented colored water and paper towels by the 1/2 piece. Yes he would take a paper towel, rip it in half (that cost 2 cents) and that was what you dried your hands off with or the pants were just as good. A nickel got you a piece of gum and a splash of scented water before you headed back across the border.
Yeah … like the US Immigrations officials didn’t know where you had been when they asked you, “Got anything to declare?”
“Surrrre officerrrr, a gallon of watered down peeeee” Chuckle, puke, chuckle chuckled, puke…
Obviously, the Long Bar was a favorite of Mac Meda’s second decade of Meda Eaters.
Mike Mahoney says
In 67 & 68 made many trips to TJ. The Long Bar was sort of the “safe place” as it just sold beer and the senoritas were outside. Green beer…..not really the color but what we called it was a buck a pitcher and the mirror had decals from every college and JC in SoCal. I remember the night we put up the Golden West JC decal…………..fast foward to the 1990’s. Took my sons to the Long Bar, now on the diagonal walkway behind the Hotel Nelson…………the bar is only about one third the length……….but the floor tile and the mirror was there.
Weird to sit there with my two sons drinking a beer and looking at the mirror with the decal from 1967 right in front of us…………..good times……………too bad TJ has lost it;s “sparkle” since 9/11 as only European tourists go there anymore for us seniors the border wait is too long. Bambi’s and the Unicorn Club were special.
Steve Sasseen says
Right on mike, good stories. Still driving an old panel truck?
Fred Prudhomme says
A friend of mine found this and sent it to me…great stories from back in the day
A few of us from Saints (class of 68) were hanging out at the Camel’s Breath last week and the subject of the Long Bar came up. We started talking about TJ. I mentioned the board hanging behind the bar…my recollection was it had been “donated” by the Windandsea Surf Club”.. A few tried, but it hung there as long as I can remember. That floor was so sticky, I think later it was bottled and re-branded as SuperGlue
My last memory of TJ was the nite of my send off to the military and VietNam…a bunch of us headed down south after dinner at Pete Reck’s house. After the obligatory opening session at the Long Bar we went looking for some “action” ?.. Ended up at some house of ill repute…watching bad 8mm porn on a bed shee hung on the wall. Went upstairs with some señorita and as soon as we were in the room she left and was replaced with two big ugly guys who releived me of my money and sent me on my way…a lot of good and fuzzy memories of Tijuana.
Fred Weather says
Same thing happened to a friend, except they made him watch the entire movie before he could leave.
Jim Tran says
I posted a few years ago about the Long Bar in Tijuana. We have lived South of Rosarito (near Puerto Nuevo) for the past 10 years now and (even though it has changed from the old days -60’s) it’s a wonderful place to retire and finish living. Raul’s is now a Christian church….talk about a change in venue. Halfway house was closed for many years but has re-opened with little interest. The Toll Rd to Ensenada has collapsed near the “Zona de Faultas” and has been closed for about a year but is supposed to open in Dec 2014??? The whales have returned big time and a trip to Guerro Negro is now a must. Go late Feb or early march when the calfs have been born.
David Ayers says
I played with a band of Corridistas, in The Long Bar. I was Magonista, but Gringo. I learned guitar from a VA patient in Roseburg, Oregon. I wish I’d learned accordion from him. His brother Flojo, invited me to join the band when I lived with his family in TJ. Flojo’s daughter was my first great love. Willy was a taxi-dancer at The Blue Fox. She made more money than ten bands like ours.
Steve Bennett says
From 1966 until 1968—during my pre-legal drinking days—the long bar was the place to go. literally, Tijuana was like what I imagined mardi GRAS was like in new Orleans; wild, exciting, almost vibrating with excitement. Not to mention the hotel nelson, green note and oscar’s disco. What an education for high school and college kids. Steve Bennett. Castle park high, 1966.
David Ayers says
I used to sit in The Nelson, drinking specials. Waiting for Willy to get across the border. I’d meet her on the US side. She’d show up with a nice watermelon from the river bed. After her death, I learned her niece Blanca was in love with me, too. We wound up with The Party Of The Poor, in Guerrero. I have a few sad memories from that war. Blanca is the saddest. A hole in my life, forever.
Larry McQuiston says
What the hell? Had some great (drunken) times at both the old (across the street, ’round the corner from The Blue Fox/Green Note) where you could get laid (and the clap) for $3.00. Great times, great memories for us now “seniors.” It was a fine thing that the same bartenders were always there, long after we got older. And now I know a little about Mac Meda Destruction Company, whose decals I saw on the bar mirror and took to be some gringo demo. outfit. Long live Huntington Beach and the guys at the pier. LMc
Jim Tran says
I used to go there in the 60’s. I was 15 and my friend was 16. We used to take my sister when she was 13 (with a written permission slip from mom). We all had drinks and got on the flat bed truck that came by for a free ride to the bull ring (old one even though the new one in Playas is now old). My wife and I have lived south of rosarito for the past 8 years. Come back to Mexico!
Bill Ainsworth says
That’s Roger Johnson to the right of the pitcher and two more heads to the right is David Brown (eel grass). Might be Jimmy Kiddle in the lower left corner
Evelyn Hill says
Hey Bill, nice to see you at the 50y Reunion!
Or for a buck some guy would take your picture and bring the finished print back in about 20 minutes. I still have one circa 1964
John K. Weldon says
Forground left side Bill “Dupie” Demoullen…Had to be around 1969. Long Bar is all gone now…We always seemed to start out there…Then Mikes Bar, Red Fox, Chicago Club, Hotel Nelson…John K wana Tijuana.
The long bar in tijuana in ave. Revolucion
& 4th street, the name:
“la ballena” in 60’s.
Drean, Robbie Hannd, et all..lived 1 block from each,,,bad vides…But the SAA House Took care of busine,,,humes,canning roel kept the of the situation well in hand,Parties were wild, regular 100 people.
Carla Marriner Bowlin says
Sure looks like Timmy Ambrose on the left front behind the guy with the mustache.
What a great site!
mike doering says
I grew up at the Long Bar back in the 60’s, 64-69. Many important experiences happened there, though I do not remember them all that well. I remember the Mac Meda Destruction Co. T shirts and wondered what cool bunch of dudes that was. A few years ago, when the Long Bar was still there, I went back and had a beer. It was daytime and quiet. Ramon was the bartender, same as back in the 60’s and this was probably in the 90’s. I asked him what happened to Mario, the shoe shine guy who the women were always hugging and buying shots for. “He is dead” said Ramon. Why? “Too much tequila”.
Ah, but what I would give for just one of those weekend nights at the Long Bar, with it filled with Gringos. To walk by the crooked mirror again.
Mike, I remember all that you mentioned. The crooked mirrors, Mario who would shine your shoes for a buck, Beer by the pitcher, mariachi music and lots of fun.
Hello. Great job. I did not expect this on a Wednesday. This is a great story. Thanks!
Dan Dameron says
That’s Mark and I stand by my identifications and the spelling of names. I should have been there too but I think I was on The Ice at the time.
hey Dan is that you or your brother? Was I the only guy that brought a date? Here is my shot at it. From the back left to right Chuck Maclaren, Ricky Krugg, Rick Prowse (back at the HEAD) Danny Sammonds, Dave Bartlet, Bernie Gerke, Steve Calloway, Mark Dameron, George Forsite, one of the Elstons, ft row from the left, Jim Downey, one of the Guthry bros, Roger Johnson,Whale, Dave Brown (below the finger) Kelly, Ed Selby, Bill Decker. Where’s my date, and the others? no friggin idea!
It was Deckers idea “itsy bitzy bikini contest” in Rosarita, never saw anything but Hooks. I don’t think the contest got a big review, It was nothing but a barker with a pencil thin mustache and a few over weight soiled doves. *accuracy + or – 10%
Dave Osborn says
About 100 years ago the Long Bar was across the street from present location.
at one time I heard it was the whole block long (It ran same direction as street unlike
one is now)…..about 95 years ago when I first drank at old Long Bar it was a half block long. It was really a chance to drink in one of the last of the wild west saloons…. (Same as Hussongs Cantina Margarita in Ensenada BC back in the late 50’s & early 60’s)….
One day after a bull fight in the down town arena featuring the great and insane
El Corbez….(I normally cheered for the bulls as I hated an unfair fights, I was sort of the only one that did this). El Corbez was different he gave the bulls a lot of shots at him and paid the price over the years…after fight we went back to (old) Long Bar and that day a big melee broke out, flying chairs, beer mugs etc like big food fight but wildly more dangerous!. Our table it was covered with beer, broken glass & blood. I can remember (I think? I remember) Jerry Troyer was there plus 4 or 5 other La Jolla guys and gals. It was truly like an old western movie saloon fight scene!
Another story from the old Long Bar was the day Donny Thomason grabbed a Cop from behind by the gun belt and collar and tossed him over the bar…but that a story for later.
Dan Dameron says
An aside…..most of these guys stopped in the Long Bar twice that day…the goal was Rosarita Beach…..Long Bar on the way down, buy bottle rockets…drive to Rosarita Beach, have several bottle rocket wars…on the way home, stop at the Long Bar again….
Kelly was driving one of the cars and after a piss stop on I-5 he drove off leaving a couple guys behind…..they ran with peckers flailing and piss drops falling to jump on the back bumper of the station wagon and crawl in the back window….
Dan Dameron says
Front Row Seated: (unknown), Jim Downie, Roger Johnson, Whale, David Brown, Bernie Gerke (behind Brown)Kelly Medigovich, Ed Selby, Decker
Back row Standing: Chuck Maclaren, Ricky Krug, Danny Sammons, Dave Bartlett, Steve Kellaway, Mark Dameron, George Forsyth, Matthews
In the far background: Ric Prouse