Friday, January 18, 2013

Club Idaho


Rooting through artifacts in my top dresser drawer this morning I came across my Club Idaho membership card.

Club Idaho was once a notorious den of iniquity where gambling and other vices flourished. I didn’t know it until I started researching the place online today, but the club was used as a location for the 1959 film version of James Jones’ novel “Some Came Running,” featuring Frank Sinatra, Shirley MacLaine, Dean Martin and others. I knew some of the movie was shot in Madison, Ind. but was unaware of the Terre Haute connection.

Terre Haute had a “sin city” reputation during the 20-year (1948-1968) regime of Mayor Ralph Tucker.

By the time I got to Indiana State College (now Indiana State University) in the fall of 1963, things were still very loose.

My first night on campus, my homeboy Dave Johnson, who was starting his sophomore year at ISC, took me on a tour of the whorehouses. We were just browsing and didn’t avail ourselves of their services, but it was a real eye-opener for an 18-year-old boy from Delphi, Ind.

(Dave died of cancer about a year ago in Farmington, N.M. His widow, Joyce, died there a few weeks ago, also of cancer.)

I didn’t look old enough to bluff my way into places like Club Idaho, so I had to be content with stories about the bands and other goings-on from friends and fraternity brothers.

The club had lost its cache as a really wicked nightspot and had become a slightly racy college joint by the mid-1960s.

I didn’t wait long after my 21st birthday to join the club. I turned 21 on July 14, 1966 and, as the card shows, became a “member in good standing” just six days later. I don’t remember being particularly impressed with the experience and I think I only went once. I guess it was just one more item on my Growing Up To-Do List that needed to be ticked off.

1 comment:

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