The Midget Club

The Veteran Supply truck turned right on 64th Street and made another right into the alley. Steve, the driver, backed it up in front of the Midget Club delivery door. I was Steve’s assistant, helping him load and unload the trucks.

Veteran Supply sold restaurant and bar supplies all over the city, suburbs, and northeast Indiana, but most of the customers were located on Chicago’s South Side. My uncles, Julie and Jerry Schlan, started the business in South Chicago after serving our country during World War Two. They proudly named it “Veteran Supply.”

In the summer of 1962, when I was sixteen, my uncles hired me for the summer to help around the store, and, on occasion, help Steve with deliveries. I especially liked riding shotgun to Steve, checking out the sights and sounds of the urban landscape.

As we unloaded our delivery in the kitchen of The Midget Club, Parnell came out to greet us and check out the order. Parnell St. Aubin and his wife, Mary Ellen, owned the establishment. Parnell had a fling in Hollywood, playing a Munchkin soldier in The Wizard of Oz. But movie parts were few and far between for little people in Tinsel Town, and he eventually headed back to his hometown of Chicago.

He met Mary Ellen in the toy department at Goldblatt’s, where she was working as one of Santa’s elves. They fell in love, married, and began a business. They wanted to create a lounge that would cater to the social needs of little people like themselves.

The Midget Club opened its doors in 1948 at 6356 S. Kedzie. It was a sight to behold. The club had a downsized bar counter, as well as downsized bar stools, tables and chairs. Only little people could manage to sit at the bar. Other customers had to be content with sitting at the few regular-size tables and chairs in the place. Signed photos of a grinning Munchkin Parnell with Judy Garland and Ray Bolger graced the wall next to the bar counter.

The club stayed open until 1982. I always wondered what happened to its unique customized furnishings. To this day, nearly fifty years after my first and only visit to The Midget Club, it still remains to me as a place of wonder and imagination, much like Oz itself.

5 thoughts on “The Midget Club

  1. Hi Mr. Reeder,

    I’m an editorial intern at the Chicago Reader and am writing a short feature on the Midget Club for this week’s issue. I’m looking for people who have first-hand memories of the club and would love the opportunity to talk briefly about it with you. Please email me to discuss this further!

    • I have an article on the Midget Club from around 1980-81. Give me your e-mail address and I will send you a pdf of the article.

      Kevin Buchanan

  2. Pingback: I Married A Munchkin At The Chicago Midget Club (1948 - 1982) - Flashbak

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