Martin Fletcher stood in the club’s empty dining room and stared through the tall windows at the river. It was running muddy green this morning, but today would be clear with no rain and so he knew that the stream would be its most beautiful shade of jade by evening, before the first dinner guests arrived.
He stood in the great shaft of light and felt the warmth of the early June sun and remembered better days. He exhaled and tried to focus not on disappointments and failures, of which there had been many, but on what he had here and now. This little nightclub. This oh-so-strange circumstance where this tiny business, the near antithesis of everything that surrounded it, had survived for eighty years. The original owners were sisters, both of whom had done duty as Army nurses in New York City in World War I. They had come back to West Virginia with a little bit of the city in them. They had lived then, from 1917 to 1919, in the kind of independence and freedom that was undreamt of by women of their place and generation. The work in the hospitals was blood and gore and long hours and emotional stress, but they were young and the excitment of the city, even then, even during the war, was a counterbalance to the everyday grind. They saw art and heard music and traveled together throughout Manhatten.
And they were free to read then. When the day was over they had the advantage of books from the library and they read about the things they heard and saw with the gusto of one who has been deprived. This new learning and new perspective on life they brought with them when they returned. That was the spirit that gave birth to this nightclub on the outskirts of Bim, West Virginia, a town that at its peak in 1958 boasted twelve hundred residents.
The greater mystery was how the place had survived for eight decades\