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Classic Tales of Old Dorp: Musicians played social trick at Green Lantern during 1930s gig

Classic Tales of Old Dorp: Musicians played social trick at Green Lantern during 1930s gig

Former columnist Larry Hart brings back memories from the 1930s of the Green Lantern nightclub in Sc

The Daily Gazette is reprinting excerpts of the late Larry Hart's long-running column, “Tales of Old Dorp.” Today, Hart offers a tale of the Green Lantern. Bill Sherman was once a member of the Green Lantern corps, one of the musicians who made the nightclub a popular gathering place in Scotia. This column excerpt originally appeared May 10, 1988.

Most people thought of it strictly as a nightclub, but the Green Lantern was also popular as a restaurant in the “good old days” of the rip-roaring Twenties, Thirties and part of the Forties. Fine dinners were served evenings and Sunday afternoons.

Situated on Saratoga Road (Route 50) opposite the High Mills Garage, the Green Lantern was right next to Joe Pickney’s grove at 582 Saratoga Road. In recent years, it had been the site of a one-story brick building used by Millbrook Bakeries for outlet baked goods sales.

We’ve talked to local musicians who played at the Green Lantern for dancing and floor shows. One was Bill Sherman, still-active guitarist who went under the professional name of Sherm Williams. He said it was a lively night spot, certainly not in the “booze hall” category, and the owner-manager was dead set against fraternization of musicians with the floor show dancers, who generally came up from New York City.

“One night, in the late 1930s after the last show and the Green Lantern closed for the night, a bunch of us from the band went down the road to the Gay Gull, which was really an after-hours tavern,” Bill recalled.

“We sat down for a few beers when the girls from the Green Lantern show came in. Naturally, we all sat together and were having some good laughs when the Green Lantern boss walked in and fired us all on the spot.

“The next day, we all got calls from him, saying he had made a mistake and wanted us all back that night. We realized he was in a spot, having no band or floor show on a minute’s notice. So we decided to teach him a lesson. We went back all right, but he had to pay us double salary for the rest of that week.”

Personally, we can’t recall ever being inside the place, but have vivid memories of a cold night in February 1947 covering a fire that wrecked the old Green Lantern. It went up like a tinder box and the flames leaped high in the frigid, snow-swept sky. Firefighters could do little but bring it under control after the roof caved in.

For years afterward, traveling Route 50 in that area, the foundations of the Green Lantern were visible to passersby until Millbrook built its store in the early 1970s.

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