Why Would an Old West Saloon have White Towels on the Front of the Bar?

ATM_Marshall-Trimble-Logo-with-backgroundWhy would an Old West saloon have white towels on the front of the bar?
Chuck Terry, Columbus, Ohio

Bartenders hung towels on the bar so that imbibers could wipe the beer foam off their mouths. They were “community towels.” You can imagine how easily drinking buddies shared afflictions, such as colds, the flu or tuberculosis.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. . His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen; History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write:  Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at  marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.