Saloon Fights and Women

Barroom Blitz by Anton Otto Fischer

Saloon fights where mirrors and windows were broken as were chairs and tables are a Hollywood staple. Were they that destructive in the real West? And, were women allowed drink socially?

Those knock-down-drag-out brawls were mostly to entertain viewers in a movie theater. Saloons were the domain of men. They could drink, gamble, dally with the saloon girls, discuss politics and have town meetings. Saloons did hire women to work as can-can dancers, skits, waitresses, prostitutes and to hustle drinks for the house but women weren’t allowed to socially drink. Believe it or not in some eastern states they couldn’t do that until the 1970s.

Saloonkeepers didn’t take kindly to drunks busting up the furniture, breaking mirrors and windows. Those were Hollywood staples. Furnishings were expensive and usually had to be shipped from long distances. Before railroads freight was especially high.

I should add that fancy saloons were especially particular about fighting but those dives, hog ranches and raw frontier towns that didn’t have expensive furnishings weren’t so picky.

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