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1968 Pre-Stonewall Rebellion

Pre-Stonewall Rebellion

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.  Don't let the linen tablecloth give you the right impression.  Only thrice a year on certain holidays, namely Thanksgiving, Christmas and New 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 avoid.  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 cardboard-framed picture within about an hour.  
Willson and Sonia even bought photo copies -- also at $10 each -- for their 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 made a nice profit 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 list' 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." <>
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:


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:

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