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Historian Pat Loomis relates that El Dorado St. got seedier and grubbier with each passing year. In 1869 five saloons were listed in the city directory, along with four tailors, three bookmakers, Bompard's grocery, two fish markets, and a Chinese doctor named We-Car-Him-Boo-Tie. Brothels were not listed as such, but any listing of "boarding house" was likely to be the abode of brightly plumed sinners. And any saloon worth its salt had discrete rooms rented out by entrepreneurial bar-harlots.
Painted ladies leaned out from second story windows - enticing those in need.
In dance hall saloons, hurdy-gurdy girls danced the hurdy-gurdy, before luring dusty cow-pokes, San Jose city slickers, and sod-busters up the stairs . . . to separate them from their gold-dust.
Horses waited patiently on the unpaved street . . . and sometimes died there. Who do ya call?
The 1869 version of a tow-truck was a "knacker." A knacker was the guy who bought useless, worn-out, or dead livestock. He would then sell the meat and/or hides.
Speaking of horses, Leo Sullivan provides an enchanting account of the 19th century version of a rental car - ye olde livery horse. "Around the corner on Orchard was a place I liked, Louis Pfau's Livery Stable where saddle horses and rigs were for hire. For one dollar and fifty cents a horse and buggy with snappy red running gear were yours for a day with lunch for the horse thrown in - a nose full of barley. Through the kindness of my friend John, the hostler, I had access to the stables and was privileged to pet the horses in their stalls. I learned the life of a livery horse was by no means an easy one."
"The favorite outdoor sport of the "Man About Town" was "making the rounds," a mad dash to the roadhouses of the outlying districts. Driving at breakneck speed between the oases of good cheer, the roisterers would leave their sweating horse standing in the cold for hours, while they caroused in the warmth of the bar. The length of the spree was decided by the length of the celebrant's purse. When it was empty, the party was automatically over."
"The drunks and the coal oil lamps were put-out for the night, all hands got aboard, and the horse, the only one that didn't have a drink all night, plodded wearily homeward, arriving at the stable spent, often more half-dead than alive."
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