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  • Writer's pictureJay EuDaly

Work Ethic

Updated: Jun 23

I once told my father-in-law,


"You can accuse me of not making enough money but you can never accuse me of not working."


I have a work ethic.


Speaking of work ethic: During one of my non-musical part-time job episodes I was delivering bread for a local bakery for about 5 hours on weekday mornings. The bakery was over on the west side of Kansas City.


I was also playing Milton's from 9:00pm - 1:00am. That place deserves its own blog; for those who don't know, it was a direct connection to the Kansas City jazz scene of the 1930's.


The proprietor, Milton Morris, started out as a drugstore owner in the 1920's selling "medicinal" whiskey during Prohibition, which ended in December of 1933. He opened the original Milton's at Troost and Armour Boulevard in 1934. According to Pendergastkc,


  • Samuel "Baby" Lovett and Julia Lee performed there regularly for years. Pee Wee Hunt paid tribute to the popular club in his recording "Meet Me at Milton's."


Milton's early joints hired then-local names like Count Basie, Lester Young, Jo Jones and Ben Webster.


Basie told a reporter, “He gave everybody a break when they were down and really needed it. Including Bill Basie.”


Milton closed the club at Troost and Armour in 1950 and in 1951 he opened Milton's Tap Room at 32nd and Main, which is one of the places I played in the early eighties. The interior was the darkest club I ever played and was a throwback to the heyday of Kansas City jazz in the 1930's.


It was so dark that when you went outside at 2am after the gig your eyes had to adjust to the light.


I know from personal experience that Milton Morris was a piece of work! ("I ain't mad at nobody!") From running nightclubs during the Pendergast era to guesting in Harry Truman's White House...and he'd tell you all about it over a Scotch-and-Water and a foot-long cigar. He was always in the club, perched at the end of the bar. Here's one of the better articles about him.


Gotta admire the work ethic.


Milton died in November of 1983 at age 71. As I understand it, a niece inherited the club and sold it to an investment group. It continued after his death for a few years; it moved to a different location off SW Trafficway where I remember playing with Kevin Mahogany and also subbing for Danny Embrey with the Sons of Brasil.

32nd & Main
That’s Milton...on the left.

Anyway, on the night in question, there was this tall, statuesque hooker that worked the block Milton's was on. I'd see her walking back-and-forth in front of the club as I was playing. One night I was out on the sidewalk on break and struck up a conversation with her.


It took me about a minute to realize IT WAS A GUY! Holy crap! The craftsmanship involved to achieve the look was impressive!


I wondered how many guys.....?(fill in the blank here)?.....and never knew it was a guy! It was all I could do to keep a straight face as a cascade of possible scenarios occurred to me during that moment of realization. I didn't want to hurt the guy's feelings. If you ever saw the movie, "The Crying Game" you'll know what I'm saying.


A few hours later I was driving down Main going to work at the bakery at 5:30am and that guy was still out, working the block.


Gotta admire the work ethic.

 

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