We rushed to get in another trail ride before Don and Judy set out on the road to Morocco for a wedding. It was June 18 just a few days before Elaine’s birthday. Wow! Born on the summer solstice (Latin translation: the sun stops) Marv and I designed and printed a card with Elaine’s pic hefting a cold one, of course. Don and Judy put together a six-pack of assorted IPAs. Both were well received.
After hugs and kisses we climbed into the white van and set out for our first stop-the Spot, 1226 Oshkosh Avenue. We’d been here before when it was the Sawyer Creek Pub. More about that later.
Don drove us through the roundabouts on the Washburn frontage road and to Witzel, then Sawyer and into a parking lot next to The Spot. Before entering, Gary fixed the Spot’s sign realigning the fallen “M” in Monday specials.
Except for the change in signage, The Spot resembles the previous taverns that were in this building. The walls are deep red, the back bar still looks like it did in the 1930s: carved columns framing a large mirror. The ceiling is still painted black. Beyond the bar is an area with tables and chairs and off to the right is a small room that contains a pool table. Two small restrooms are in the pool table room.
Susanne, leasee, was out bartender. For some reason the taps were down so we opted for bottled beer. Don, Judy and Marv had Pabst. Elaine and I had Rolling Rock. Gary our designated driver for the rest of the night had nothing.
There’s not much going on in taverns on Monday nights. That was true this Monday. The only other patron was the janitor from Kelly’s bar. We’d seen and talked to him when we visited Kelly’s. Nice to see him again.
Like a couple other taverns in town, the Spot has a fry machine at the end of the bar. They are hoping to serve food soon. Russ, Susanne’s son, will be the cook.
The Spot sits on a part of Oshkosh Avenue that’s going through a major change in the next few years. Just a couple blocks west is the former Lake Shore golf course. Its clubhouse has been torn down to make way for the headquarters of the Oshkosh Corporation. The UW Milwaukee archeologists have finished excavating for Indian artifacts. (I think state law requires this now.) They found a lot, by the way. As my friend Jeff Behm, archeology professor at UW Oshkosh, says, “If you’re on dry land in Winnebago County, there are Indian artifacts under your feet.” The 70 or so acres left will become a city park. Also planned for this street are a hotel, restaurant and gas station / general store.
Meanwhile the 1200 block looks very different from the 1970s. There used to be five taverns in this block. They were popular spots for workers at the Paine Lumber Company just across the river and Pluswood just on the corner of Sawyer and Oshkosh. The one at 1216 went out of business in 1959. Another at 1224 was razed in 1998. Another at 1240 was torn down after 2001. And soon to be torn down is Repp’s Bar at 1202. The fifth one was across the street and was demolished in the 1970s to make it possible to widen Sawyer Street. Demolition of Repp’s is necessary to extend Sawyer Street north to the Fox River.
Marv shared with Don the news of the nine recruits for the UWO women’s basketball team. He is fascinated by the name of a new point guard from Union Grove, Brooklyn Bull. They, along with the men’s team, should be dynamite in the 2018-2019 season. Marv also knows that the UWO football team is ranked second in the country according to Street & Smith’s annual college football yearbook. That probably explains why two of the pre-season games are with Division 2 schools.
A lot of our talk was about Don and Judy’s upcoming trip to Morocco. I started singing, “We’re off on the road to Morocco…and like Webster’s Dictionary we’re Morocco bound.” What? What’s that? They asked. “You know, the theme song from the movie Road to Moroccostarring Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour.” Well, no, they didn’t know. So, I rattled off the “road” pictures that this threesome had made: Road to Singapore (1940), Road to Zanzibar (1941), Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1945), Road to Rio (1947), Road to Bali (1952), and Road to Hong Kong (1962). I probably saw some of these starting with Utopia with my grandmother Lala when my sister and I stayed with her in Kaukauna. She went to nearly every movie that came to town. Alas, my friends didn’t have Lala as a grandmother and so missed those movies.
Also in Morocco is Casablanca that brings to mind another movie Casablancawith Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Just read on Facebook that someone has opened up a club called Rick’s Place in Casablanca.
A final touch at The Spot was Don ordering a shot of Fireball, that hot cinnamon liqueur. “Tastes like Heaven / Burns like Hell.” Indeed! We each had a sip till it was gone and our throats were on fire. Chocking on it and wiping our watery eyes, we left to head off to The Granary.