1968 Pre-Stonewall Rebellion
The STONEWALL Inn
Willson Henderson and Sonia Jane at The STONEWALL Club
The carved wood Kibuki on WLH's chain was from B/F John Watts
[Photography by a special Stonewall photographer]
New York, NY - The STONEWALL Inn, New Year's Eve, December 31, 1968.
This is the only known
existing photo taken inside The
Stonewall Inn. It is one of the few booths that were in the
club. The exact location inside the club is in the second
room -- the dance room -- against the right side wall of the club.
let the linen tablecloth give you the right impression. Only
a year on certain holidays, namely Thanksgiving, Christmas
Year's Eve, the Mafia-owned Stonewall Club "went all
out" and "did the
right family thing" which was bringing out the linen on the big
holidays. Some think that it was also done on Easter
Sunday, which is a likelihood in the Gayborhood!
On these special occasions, to
bring a lasting and real sense of "family" to the Gay
patrons, they actually had
an 'authorized' photographer --
for those who wanted to have their photo taken at The
STONEWALL Bar & Dance Club. As a matter of reality at that time, virtually
all patrons of any Gay
establishment scooted in the opposite
direction of any camera. Flash bulbs were mostly a must to
However, the Gay couples and the fag' n' hag duos,
such as cute Willson Lee Henderson and pretty Sonia Jane Attkiss, pictured
above at The STONEWALL Club on New Year's Eve in 1968, loved it!
It was a happening that many of us looked forward
to as a happy souvenier from the place
we loved. The cost was $10 per picture. You paid the ten
bucks in advance before the picture was taken. This was not The
Copa! We never understood then (we
do now) how the club was able to present you with your
picture within about an hour. Willson
and Sonia even bought photo copies -- also at $10 each --
mothers. Little did the moms (and many other relatives) know that
the straight-looking couple were at a forbidden Gay dance club in the
notorious Greenwich Village and were simply Gay friends posing.
Naturally, The STONEWALL Club
on all of this -- as they did with the bars (both of them), the
cigarette machine, the jukebox, the coat check and even
the wishing well! Otherwise, they would never have done it.
It was the
moneys! Yes, there was a wishing well in The STONEWALL!
Patrons threw coins, sometimes even a JFK half-dollar, into
the wishing well regularly. Gay patrons had a long 'wish
including Gay Rights and Gay Marriage! With the Gay clubs,
besides the most up-to-date
fashion styles, the most colorful outfits, the best hairstyles and
the koolest dance
moves, the Mafia owners could always count on a Gay profit!
Other friends of Willson and Sonia who went to The STONEWALL Club included, but are not limited to, Willson's boyfriend John Robert Watts (from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn), famed boxer Emile Griffith (originally from St. Thomas, V.I., now NJ), Sonia's cousin Adrienne Seiden, Broadway dancer Eddie H. Wright (from New Jersey), Wall Streeter Drew Holbrook (from Manhattan), lanky Stanley M. Dunne (from The Bronx), latina Lucy Santiago (from Puerto Rico), and deadpan DeeDee Crockett (from Queens, NYC).
"STONEWALL 50" 2019: Birthday Message to John R. Watts, Jr.
Original Message -----------------------------
Subject: BIRTHDAY Greetings!
From: "W.L.H." <WLH@nyct.net>
Date: Tue, June 25, 2019 3:00 am
Birthday Cheer, JRW!
As U may recall, I hosted your lil'
birthday party for your 20th a half-
century ago in 1969 in Hempstead, LI.
Patti Stone wore such a pretty dress!
U were so happy w/big cheshercat grin.
(We have the original birthday party photos.)
The next night June 26th was black bouncer Sonny Carson's
birthday at The Stoneewall! He's alive and in Minnesota!
And the next day was Judy Garland's funeral in Manhattan
and that night was our Gay stand-up, unexpected rebellion!
Give me a ring when U're in town next.
We are rather overdue, as U well know.
Lettuce do it while we're still alive and well.
Willson and Sonia Jane... and Kibuki (from U)!
Information provided via the archives of the STONEWALL Rebellion Veterans Association!
Any information, images or text obtained must be credited to said
organization's full name
and preferably including the group's website active link: http://www.StonewallVets.org.
For more 411 on the S.V.A. and the two S/W Vets, view:
STONEWALL Rebellion Veterans Association
Sonia Jane Attkiss:
Willson Lee Henderson: