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Toots Shor in His Own Words And in the Words of Those Who Knew Hi


It was a mythological New York, a smoke-filled era in which men were men and women were dames, a period when getting properly inebriated was a sign of character and top shelf was the elixir of life. Between World War II and the end of the Eisenhower era, Manhattan’s place to be and to be seen was Toots Shor’s, and for those who were part of the inner circle, it sure was fun while it lasted. Toots Shor was a stout, gregarious palooka who reigned over his men’s club and served up food and strong drink with a heaping side of insults and put-downs. His gin joint exerted an almost tidal pull on athletes, writers, radio men, fight promoters, bookies, not to mention actors, pols and Broadway brokers. Like survivors clinging to the same life raft, they became inseparable, hanging out with boldface names including Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason, Jack Dempsey, Frank Gifford, Walter Cronkite, Yogi Berra, Mike Wallace, Edward R. Murrow, Earl Warren, Frank Costello, and Jimmy Hoffa. Shor’s became the mother lodge for assembling after the big prize fights, baseball, basketball and hockey games. There athletes and fans argued and reminisced until the early hours of the morning. It all had to end, of course. And it did. But the compilation in "Saloonkeeper: Toots Shor in His Own Words and in the Words of Those Who Knew Him" offers a snootful of nostalgia, a booze-stained portrait of those dear dead days. His contemporaries as well as subsequent observers have plenty to say about Toots and his legendary saloon while the big guy’s own words provide his reflections on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. No kidding.

“Anyone who hasn’t known Toots has missed something mighty important in life.”

                              — Ernest Hemingway

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