B & E—Couldn’t Be Friendlier

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This is another voice from the past. We haven’t been “riding the beer trail” for a few months now. But soon…

It was quiet on Oregon Street; darkness was descending as Gary slipped the van into the last empty hitching post on the east side of Oregon between 10th and 11th Avenues. We climbed the concrete steps and entered the lively B & E Lounge at 1022 Oregon. Earlier this evening we had been to the Back Again Stadium Bar and learned about the monthly thousand-dollar drawing. We were told that it would be at the B & E in a little while and we should delay our arrival there until seven or so if we wanted to avoid the crowd. The thousand dollar drawing had been wrapped up here just an hour or so before and, I guess, the losers had left and the winner (more later) was still here as were a bunch of other players who could take their loss with equanimity or else were downing their sorrow in a glass of suds.

In early October I had heard of the B & E Lounge from a member of its dart team. She stood in line with me at the seasonal closing of the South Main Street Dairy Queen. “You’ll love the place,” she had said. “Barb and Eddie are just great folks.” But she doubted either would still be there as late as 7 PM.

Not to worry—Barb and Eddie were there. While four of us grabbed the only table up front and pulled six bar stools up to it, the guys placed our order at the bar. Barb and Eddie were there talking to small group of friends. I dug my camera out of my purse and joined them.   “Can I take your picture?” “Sure.” I have two pics, but this is the best:

Barb and Eddie were ready to go home but we delayed them with some bar talk. Before they bought this place, they’d run Walleye’s on 6th for eight years. I asked how old this building was. “Really old,” said Eddie, “The building’s leaning to the south.” To check that out, see the picture at the top of this page.

Barb proudly said her dad opens the B & E every morning. “He loves it. Likes to keep busy.” She nodded her head when I said that Scott Engle’s grandpa opens Jerry’s every morning too.

Of course we gave Barb and Eddie our card and explained the trail ride. We asked if they’d recommend Walleye’s as one of our stops. “Sure,” said Eddie, but Barb wasn’t so convincing feeling it’s “not as neat and clean as when we were there.”

And now—drum roll, please—the winner of the thousand dollar drawing. Well, here she is: the bartender.

The dart team must be outstanding judging by all the plaques on the wall. Another wall held 12 plaques for winning Midstate Amusement video games. The whole place was decorated for Halloween especially the back bar with its spooky black monster and fake cobwebs.

Like Jerry’s Tap, the bathrooms were small and the sink was in the hallway. We caught sight of Don following the men’s room instructions to wash your hands after using the facilities. Could this building also pre-date indoor plumbing? Like other places too there was a pool table and a row of video gaming machines. One of the friendlier patrons (he’d tried to pass himself off as Barb and Eddie’s son), won 20 bucks at the video poker game while we were there.

Most of our hour there we “three Graces” sat at the table and drank our beers. Think I had a Schlitz, or maybe it was a Spotted Cow or maybe a Leinie’s. It was 16 ounce, I remember that.

We talked about travels. Elaine outlined the itinerary for their upcoming Hawaii trip. I said that I hoped they were going to see volcanoes. I think that would be neat. Ever since I saw some Debra Padget movie about offering a virgin to the god of volcanoes, I’ve had this thing about them. Gary assured me that volcano visiting was in their plans. Don and Judy have been to Hawaii too. Judy talked about the mule ride they took on Molokai. “I had mule ass for three weeks after that,” she said. We all twitched a bit on the bar stools just thinking that over.

No music played in the B & E. There was the noise of conversation from the bar, the pings and rings of the video games, and then a really, really loud belch. Like a fog horn. We laughed like fifth graders over a fart joke. “Who did that?”

I thought it was this single guy at the bar bent over his beer. Not so. According to Elaine and Judy it was this petite gal at the bar with two of her pals. All three gals were drinking beer and puffing on cigs. “No,” I said, “she’s too small.” But I was wrong as another broke through her lips. Impressive! Those plosives reminded me of my grandfather who covered his belches with “Bow-Wow,” sounding like the meanest junk yard dog.

We wound up our stay suggesting places for the next trail ride in early November. We made a long list, but came to no decisions on three places for the November ride. So it will be a surprise.

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Frankie Mengeling

Frankie Mengeling taught English at Oshkosh North High School and Lourdes High School and was co-director of the Fox Valley Writing Project at UWO. She lives on the Oshkosh’s only hill, with her husband Marvin, son Tom and cat Katrina. The blog www.ridingthebeertrail.wordpress.com began in the summer of 2009 after the three couple beer trail began.

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