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June 18, 2021

The Midget Club at 4016 W. 63rd St in Chicago, 1968

The bar was run by Chicago native Parnell St. Aubin, who’d played a Munchkin soldier in The Wizard of Oz, and his wife, Mary Ellen Burbach, a former Mae West impersonator with the Rose’s Parisian Midget Follies.

Parnell St. Aubin had a short career in Hollywood. He was a Munchkin soldier in the 1939 movie classic The Wizard of Oz. After its filming, he moved back to Chicago and opened a tavern on the Southeast Side. He had to climb up on a barstool to reach the cash register, for he was 3 feet 7 inches tall. Peeking over the bar, he liked to tell customers, “Yeah, I got plans for this place.”

One Christmas season St. Aubin went downtown to see the toy display at Goldblatt’s department store, which featured midgets as Santa’s elves. Among them was his soon-to-be-wife, Mary Ellen Bacon. She, too, had had a show business career: at 3 feet 8 inches tall, she had toured with vaudeville troupes such as Rose’s Royal Midgets.

They married, moved the tavern to the Southwest Side, and scaled down their operation, creating the Midget Club first at 6356 S. Kedzie Ave., then at 4016 W. 63rd St.

“We created the bar to fit our size,” Mary recalled. “It was custom-built. Pint size, so we could both easily manoeuvre around, tend bar and serve customers.”

The bar welcomed patrons of any and every height. It did not discriminate. “If I depended the midget trade,” Parnell said. “I’d starve.”

(via Flashbak)


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