When I saw this article at ATlas Obscura my mind went back to 1982. We had a republican president called Reagan who seemed to having problems with his memory and The Soviet Union was our primary enemy. Has anything changed? Yes, 69 R&L is no longer in NYC or anywhere for that matter. When in my early twenties I used to hang out in the area. It had become my gay kindergarten, as I grew up starting to have the knowledge that I was gay and was gay wether I knew it or admit to it or not.This is where I could learn what gays did and behave. I mostly grew up all the way east-downtown and there was nothing gay down there.
The last time I went to the diner which it was always over 3am, I found myelf when the bill came , without any money. The last $5 or $10 had slipped out from my socks or maybe I forgot and put it in my back pocket which means it would not be there because thats where guys that pass or bumped into you touched. Not to admire your backside but looking for paper or leather in a for of a wallet.
I was always served by a pretty polite Russian girl with a heavy accent. She was always so sweet to me and I just loved here. Had I not been gay I would have dated her. I told her what happened and told her I would do the dishes, mop the floor, what ever. She told me not to talk like that and to wait a minute. She went took care of another table and dissapeareared for a few minutes. I figured she most be telling her boss about me. What an embarrassement! I even had scored with someone in the restaurant who kept looking at me and I went and sat on his table (I was cockly but in this situation I had no reason to be) I made friends with the guy even though he seemed to be one of those new hell kitchen guys, ususally german and sounding Democrat but in fact they were Republicans. They loved the law and order talking points. I never talked politics, being gay was enough for me to handle.
She came back and put some money on my table. She said this for the the bill and for you to get home. I could not say thank you enough. Told her I will pay her next weekend when I came back.
As a matter of fact I went back once and told she was no lonnger there. I was so upset. Now I would have that debt open with ssomeone who was poor for ever.. What a shame!
Some years forward after staying with someone on East Midtown I showed up at cafeteria looking for breakfast. I went in to this open early restaurant and guess who was the my waiteress?
What a delight! She told me about what she was doing and I told her I worked in the neighborhood and that I will be back to see her. I would love to take her out to dinner if her boyfriend did't mind. She said no boyfriend..What a shame I thought. I tipped her enough to settled my debt even though she said to fortget about that. I left hoping to come back but I was promoted at work and could no longer full around during the week and on weekend I had somebody.
I never went back, not long after that my company reconverted into office building and condos. I ended up getting work way out of Manhattan.
Iam sure there many stories like mine. You can send them to me and I will try to publish them.
I think you will enjoy reading after this gay landmark. 🦊Adam