A Sunday or three back I was in Frisco, just hanging out, and stopped into Stookey’s for a pop.
I needed a Corpse Reviver No. 2 to keep the old corpse going, and they’ll always shake one up for me, even if it isn’t on the current menu.
Plus there’s the added appeal that by stepping inside Stookey’s Club Moderne I know I am following another footprint Sam Spade laid down in San Francisco.
For Hammett fans, this dope is kind of news.
All I want to make clear up front is that I was going into Stookey’s for at least a year before the news broke among the inner circles.
I was a pioneer.
And I’ll make clear that I wasn’t the guy who figured it out. It was one of the owners and barkeeps you’ll find pulling shifts on the stick who nailed this one. And it was honcho Tim Stookey personally who handed me the ad for Faverman’s you see at the top. They lucked into it.
The barkeep was rereading The Maltese Falcon, as people often do, and got hit between the eyes by a line in Chapter II: Death in the Fog. Read it yourself if in doubt, but just after the scene ends where Spade goes into Burritt alley because Archer has been bumped, there’s a section break — and then the single-line paragraph:
In an all-night drug-store on the corner of Bush and Taylor Streets, Spade used the telephone.
Hey, thought the guy, our bar is at Bush and Taylor. . . .
So, some fast gumshoe work. Stookey’s is on one corner. But there are four corners. And if you don’t check, who’s to say you didn’t have an all-night drugstore on each corner for Spade to chose between?
They’re pretty sure their corner is the corner. So, circa 1928 and after it housed a drugstore. For decades now it has been a bar of some stripe, and currently that bar is named Stookey’s.
As I sipped my Corpse Reviver, I asked the bartender if he wasn’t the one who tumbled to the find. He was.
Are you guys going to put it up on your webpage? I asked.
Yeah, they’re getting to it, but they’re busy.
Since I try to stay as unbusy as possible, I told him I could break the news wide without working up a sweat.
Now, are there any Sam Spade fans not at this moment bolting toward Stookey’s for a pop?