[Dixielandjazz] Wild Bill

Steve Voce stevevoce at virginmedia.com
Mon Oct 15 10:41:13 EDT 2018

Maybe, as Marek suggests, the Dixieland filters thought my piece on Wild 
Bill unsuitable. Having combed its hair and made it sit up respectably, 
I'm trying to send it again.






One night during the ‘40s when Eddie Condon’s New York jazz club had 
closed in the small hours, Wild Bill Davison decided that he was too 
drunk to drive the 40 miles to his home.
Condon suggested that he should stay the night in the apartment that 
Eddie shared with his wife Phyllis. The apartment consisted of a long 
corridor with bedrooms off on each side. Phyllis couldn’t stand the 
noises that Eddie made in the night, and so they had separate rooms.
The two men had a few more drinks and then Bill asked Eddie where he 
should sleep. “Second on the right,” said Eddie pouring himself another 
Bill found the room and went to bed. When he awoke in the morning he 
found Phyllis Condon asleep beside him.
“Hey, Eddie,” Bill said at breakfast. “Did you know I slept with Phyllis 
last night?”
“I’m sorry,” said Condon. “I should have said second on the left.”
Back in the Fifties I wrote a piece called "Don't Shoot, We're 
American", which was published in some anthologies. These are a couple 
of paragraphs from it. At that period Britain had draconian laws about 
the time of day that one could buy a drink.
The Eddie Condon mob arrived in town at the unappropriate time of 11 
o'clock on a Sunday morning. They kicked and stumbled their way off the 
train through a pile of empty whiskey bottles - "travellin' high" is the 
phrase, I believe -n and began soliciting porters for directions to the 
nearest bar. They were told that all bars were closed, and their bleary 
faces paled as though the Wall Street Crash had just been announced.
Finally we persuaded them to bridge the gap until opening time with 
lunch at a Chinese restaurant, although this was an obvious breach of 
etiquette - Wil Bill pointed out that he never took food on an empty 
Once inside the restaurant Condon and Davison each produced a half of 
Scotch (how the bottles survived the journey is a mystery). Bill placed 
his on his table with great deliberation, causing much concern to the 
management. "No drinking please, yes?" asked the manager hopefully. 
"No," agreed Bill, opening the bottle. "You got glasses?"
  After a lot of argument glasses were provided ("You drink water, yes?" 
"No," agreed Bill politely) and the contents of the bottles began to 
disappear into the well-oiled systems of Messrs. Condon and Davison.
  The restaurant was fairly crowded and we had been unable to get 
adjacent tables. I was seated with Bill while Condon and his associates 
were at the other end of the room.
  Bill ordered a fruit salad as a concession to the management to show 
that he hadn't simply come to use their glasses. I believe he did 
actually eat some of it, but don't remember. I do remember the whiskey 
disappearing with an impressive swiftness, and from the other end of the 
room the voices of Condon and George Wettling were raised in mortal 
debate over who was going to finish the bottle. Finally the Davison meal 
was concluded.
   Bill wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and got to his feet. 
"A lot of people think Eddie Condon is an ***hole," he announced loudly. 
The diners fell silent. The manager, with commendable tact, dropped 
behind the cash-desk as though he had been pole-axed.
   Condon, looking like a miniature but very angry bull, slowly lifted 
himself from his chair at the other end of the room. "How's that again?" 
he asked.
   "I said a lot of people think  Condon's an ***hole." A Chinese 
waitress stopped in full flight with two dishes of chow-mein.
"But it's not true," Bill continued. Both Condon and Bill began to sit 
Bill jumped up again.
  "He's two  ***holes."
He sat down again, beaming.

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