In keeping with the E-Sylum tradition of discovering restaurants, watering holes and other fine establishments decorated with numismatic items, Dick Hanscom forwarded this article from Fairbanks, Alaska. -Editor The wall of the bar in the Captain Bartlett Inn once was rich with currency, most of it the dollar-bill variety.
Customers, displaying varied degrees of mental acuity, used black markers to scroll their names, dates and other messages in a paper trail for posterity.
With demolition of the Bartlett at hand, the cleanup crew gave the Fairbanks Community Food Bank the opportunity to salvage the monetary remains of the bar.
They recovered more than $2,100 in a two-day operation requiring the careful removal of thousands of staples, lest torn images of George Washington end up as the face upon the floor. One bill was reported to contain 24 staples.
The plan was to deposit the old bills at Denali State Bank, from where they would be shipped to the Federal Reserve, destroyed and replaced with fresh currency.
In glancing through the messages and notes on the bills, most ranged from profane to pathetic, with occasional stabs at barroom philosophy. “Never look back. Always look forward,” someone wrote in red.
Some of the authors complained about their bosses, the police, old girlfriends and the weather, while others offered opinions that must have made sense at the time or proudly proclaimed San Antonio or Chicago as home. There were quite a few farewells to Alaska that no one ever read in the light of day. These were not messages in a bottle, but messages about the bottle.
"Last beer in Alaska. I’ll miss you guys," was one.
Other notes were more celebratory. "Girls Night Out!" "Wonder Woman was Here!"
In addition to the legal tender from the U.S., there were bills in many denominations from Belgium, Sweden, Qatar, Egypt, Pakistan, Venezuela, Singapore, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand and a dozen other nations.
There were about 1,650 dollar bills in the collection, along with one $10, one $20, six $5 and six $2. I suspect that perhaps there were more $20 bills placed on the ceiling or wall, but thirsty patrons removed them from the premises when the bar was open and spent them.
The hotel is to be demolished shortly, which will bring an end to an institution that was the Captain Bartlett Inn since 1977 and the King 8 Hotel before that.
To read the complete article, see: Thousands of Captain Bartlett’s barroom bills salvaged to benefit food bank (www.newsminer.com/news/2009/jul/24/thousands
Wayne Homren, Editor
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