Friday, May 15, 2015

Scandal at the Lincoln Club

The Avenue Theatre - the building behind is where the Lincoln Club was.

Reg Dotson was a black man born in Missouri and he also ran the Lincoln Club. According to an important post WWI, African American newspaper, the Chicago Defender, Dotson hosted many entertainers passing through town.

A comedy duo, Green and Pugh, wrote the paper and said, “Reginald Dotson, who owns the finest club in Vancouver, was waiting at the pier for us in his big car, and that is the way we have been treated since leaving Chicago.” L Louis Johnson also wrote in and said, “we dined with Reggy [Dotson] at his palatial home and Oh, such a meal.” That was in 1921.

The manager of the vaudeville act Creole Fashion Revue, Joe Sheftell stated “Reggie Dotson gave a banquet last night and we had everything from soup to nuts.” ET Rogers lived at 804 Main Street in 1922. He informed the Defender t“Vancouver is still on the map … The Lincoln Club is still headquarters. It is the best club on the coast.” Also in 1922, a Defender article stated that the “Lincoln Club gave its annual breakfast dance Easter Sunday.”

Vancouver's white press didn't admire the Lincoln Club. In fact, they painted a picture of the club as nothing more than a disorderly house. Two incidents that earned Reg Dotson and his club coverage in the local papers.

The first was a police raid in December of 1919. The Vancouver World newspaper reported that “Among the colored members four white girls were found." Dotson was fined $50 plus costs for keeping a gaming house and $300 “having liquor illegally in possession” under the prohibition act. Thirty nine people at the club were fined $15 plus costs. I wonder how the presence of white women influenced this case.

The second incident was a bit more exciting. In the spring of 1923, George McLeod entered the Lincoln Club, claiming to be the chief inspector for the BC Liquor Control Board. According to Dotson, McLeod stated that Dotson could be facing a $100 fine due to bottles of unsealed liquor, which was confiscated from him.

“We don’t like to prosecute these cases,” McLeod said, “because the city gets all the money and we do all the work. The liquor board or government don’t get the fines.”

Dotson was suspicious of McLeod, especially when the man claimed the whole matter could be dropped if the club manager would pay McLeod $50. Dotson told him to come back at 8pm then called Inspector Charles Tuley of the Vancouver Police Department.

Tune in Monday to find out more about this incident. I want to thank  the Past Tense Vancouver blog for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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