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Native Writes: The building’s not at fault

Posted: Thursday, Oct 24th, 2013

I accept that a gun will not fire without assistance; I know a pencil is not responsible for poor spelling; and my dinnerware is not why I’m fat.

However, I recently began pondering whether a building at a specific street address can possibly be responsible for what people do there.

I’m not talking about the Bunny Ranch at Reno, Nev., here. I’m thinking about a building that has sat innocently at the east end of the alley in the 500 block of State Street.

When I was a young girl, a woman named Viola Nester had a cafe there and, since my dad was jailer, the city contracted with Vi to feed the people who were doing time longer than the usual overnight drunk and disorderly rap.

Sometimes, I got to go along, and the worst I ever saw was a group of businessmen smoking cigars and telling jokes. Vi was good for a raunchy story now and then.

The building didn’t take part. Neither did the building at the west end of the alley, where Golda Reed had a coffee shop and newspapers on the counter.

Later, the State Street building housed another cafe, then Scotty Garcia moved his Sixth Street business uptown and named it the “Marlite Lounge” after the material which covered the walls.

Jameel Joseph had a restaurant and bar across the street and the area became known familiarly as “the jungle.”

For the complete article see the 10-24-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-24-2013 paper.

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