Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For May 7th, 2010 Edition.
As with many of the articles that appear in The Times that deal with events and specific places dating back to "the good old days" - the recent ongoing recollections concerning The Cellar beer bar brought back a few personal memories of what was a real fun place to visit.
My pals and I weren't frequent visitors to the famous gathering place of the young, restless and ambitious, due only to the fact the Cellar was a rather distant drive for guys and gals living further up north and only possessing limited economic resources for beer and gasoline.
What is most certainly my most cherished memory of an evening visit to the Cellar took place during the summer of '55 or possibly '56, as my memory fails me on that specific detail. But the events of the evening of which I speak are still crystal clear in my memory!
Back in the mid-50s my very favorite walleye lake was Escanaba Lake. During the summer in question a new DNR part time employee was hired to help manage the "checking station" at Escanaba. The guys who worked there helped anglers fill out the proper permits necessary to fish the experimental waters of the "Five Lakes Project", and record the lengths and weights of fish that were kept when anglers returned from their fishing expeditions. The new employee of which I speak was named Dan and he was enrolled at the University of Wisconsin. Dan was also the center on the Badger's basketball team and owned a muscular body that topped out at six-foot-eight!
Seeing both of us were about the same age and single, it didn't take long for a friendship to develop and the two of us would occasionally spend a summer evening visiting area beer bars seeking a good time while checking out the summer supply of females who were dong the same thing.
Dan and I created a perfect living example of "Mutt & Jeff." Dan being well past six foot tall and yours truly topping out at 5' 6" allows readers to visualize the vision I'm attempting to make in writing.
On the evening we invaded the Cellar, it was jam packed as usual. However we were fortunate to discover a corner table that contained two empty chairs and two lovely, young female tourists. We were invited to fill the chairs, which we quickly did, Dan taking the corner one and I the other.
After ordering a round of PBR the four of us chatted as young folks always do -what's your name? -where ya from? - etc.
Then potential trouble arrived. Two fairly large, handsome guys decided to attempt to "cut into" our foursome, with an obvious goal of separating the two gals from the two guys seated at the table..
Now I must digress for a moment to remind folks of how low the ceiling was in the Cellar. My pal, Dan, was unable to stand perfectly straight and upright due to the fact he has taller than the ceiling was high. And this fact is what makes the final scene created that evening at The Cellar stand out so vividly in my memory!
As the two "butt-ins" became overly aggressive Dan slowly began to uncoil himself from his corner chair at the table. Slowly he unwound his muscular body until he had to tilt his head forward to avoid bumping it on the ceiling. As I recall he glared down at the competition and very quietly and slowly told our two would be challengers to "Find some other place to drink!"
The eyes of the two trespassers rapidly widened to the size of golf balls and I swear it appeared some of the color drained from their faces. They then quickly retreated back up the stairs and vanished into the night.
A cluster of nearby onlookers cheered and clapped - and the rest of the evening went smoothly. Thanks Dan!
During the era when the legal beer drinking age was eighteen, the northwoods contained numerous small bars that basically catered to the 18 to 20 plus year old crowds. These establishments often were located off the beaten track and varied in size from holding upward to several dozen patrons to a simple rustic bar offering seating for a dozen or less. Some bar owners allowed loud rock and roll to pour from a Rock-ola record-playing machine while others demanded quiet conversation only.
I personally "came of age" in 1955 and had my own favorite local watering holes where my pals and I, both male and female, enjoyed the time spent there doing what most all persons of that age group enjoy doing.
Back then during the summer month's fast-pitch-twelve-inch softball was a highly popular sport. Every town and village had at least one team and often three or four "night games" were scheduled each week from June through August. It was common practice for team members, sometimes members of both teams, to congregate at a local beer bar after the game and socialize with a few brewskies. And I can't ever recall fights breaking out or "roughhousing" taking place at any of the local establishments where we hung out.
Weber's Wildlife Farm and Bar in St.Germain was without a doubt my teammates most frequent after game destination. We'd sit in a circle on the floor and shake dice to see who had to by a round. The owner, Len Weber, had a tame monkey that also entertained us as it danced around the bar and swung on the light hanging over the pool table. Ah yes - great memories!
Other favored local beer bars included Dick Merrill's Bar on the south shore of Lost Lake. Dick's bar was very small, seating only eight or ten bodies. And the atmosphere there was quiet with no music. During the summer of '57 - when my future "Wifee Poo" came into my life, her favored evening stop after the game was at Dick Merrill's. Dick even special ordered Peggy's favorite drink - grape soda!
Sometimes we'd stop at Eva Weber's café after a game for a serving of her famous home made pie or cake -with ice cream and a beer for a chaser! Only youth can handle those three combinations in one sitting!
Another popular "off road" beer bar was located north of Woodruff on 51. I believe it was called Twin Pines or Tall Pines, or something Pines. Anyway, I recall spending quality time there with my companions many times.
The Eagle River area also contained a couple of popular beer bars, The Corner and Danny Burn's Bar frequently was host to the younger crowd.
I doubt if much has changed from yesteryear to the present. There is a predictable road from youth to old age and being introduced to "night life" and all that goes with it is one such bend in that road. Hopefully all that travel it will drive with caution and use good old common sense while at the wheel!
Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin. Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean, both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide. Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email: email@example.com or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.
Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here
Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger
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