Where Can I Get a Drink in this Neighborhood?

OK.  I promised, and I know it’s been a while.  I did get some good feedback from the last article.  Just an update.  I am now a disabled writer, officially sanctioned by the Department of Social Security.  Check your kids, Bojons!  Don’t let this happen to them.

OK.  Here’s a scenario for you.  It’s 1965.  I’m 9 years old, sitting in front of my Grandpa Medved’s gas station.  A guy pulls up and says ‘Hey kid, where can I get a drink around here?’  Now, first off, if you were born after 1980, you’re probably appalled that an adult would ask a 9 year old a question like that.  But it was a different time, and a different place.  So, here would be my answer.

“You can go across Santa Fe and on the next block is Pepa’s.   (now known as Eiler’s Bar).  The people are nice and they have good candy.  If Jiffers is there, he always buys us pop and candy.  If you turn left on Eilers and go down to Northern, the Circle Lounge is just to the left.  I’ve never been in there, but we peek in and there are really pretty ladies sometimes.  If you go right, there is Vet’s Tavern.  That is the best place on that side of Santa Fe.  The old guys really treat us good and my dad and Grandpa Barnett take me there to bowl on the bowling machine.  I’m pretty good.  If you go another block, there’s a bar that Mikey Dovgan’s dad owns.  We don’t go up there much, and when we try to look in, Mikey’s dad hollers at us and chases us off.  If you stay on this side of Santa Fe, you could go down to my Uncle Joe Anzick’s Restaurant and Bar.  They have the best hamburgers and fries in the world, and the guys that drink at the bar buy us candy.  Chip Pechek is the best.  I never saw Chip in a bar that he didn’t buy me something or give me money.  You can go around the corner from Anzicks, and you can get a beer at the pool hall.  It’s the most awesome place in the world.  Just don’t tell my mom that I said that.  I’m supposed to stay away.  Oh, and I almost forgot, we’re standing in front of my Grandpa Medved’s Liquor Store.  It’s full of bottles and the back has cases piled to the ceiling.  I climb on them and hide sometimes.  Do you want me to get in the car and show you?”

 

Not a conversation you’d expect from a 9 year old now, but like I said, a different time, and a different place.  You could definitely find a drink in Bojon Town when I was a kid.  Here are a few of my favorite recollections of alcohol and my childhood.  The bars were cool.  Eilers had a really down to earth, working man’s feel to it.  The bar was not this polished piece of woodwork.  It was clean, simple and serviceable.  The booths were cool, handmade, always freshly painted.  Good candy.  Good bar stuff too.  Big pickles, Slim Jim’s and other healthy foods.

Anzick’s had the polished piece of woodwork for the bar.  It was awesome, and looked really high class.  I can barely remember my Uncle Joe, but I do remember my dad’s cousin Johnny and my Aunt Jennie running it for a while.  The pool hall was the pool hall.  A big glass case filled with candy, cookies, all kinds of goodies, covered on top with naked pictures of very large women with many folds and flaps.  I remember not wanting to look at them but not being able to help myself!  Aaargh!  A couple of coolers with pop and 3.2 beer.  Two awesome full size Brunswick Tournament Model pool tables.  A jukebox.  Always 2 pinball machines.  In other words, heaven.  I’ve written about this place at length, so I won’t bore you here.

Vets was also cool.  A big place.  It had a big main bar with some booths, a big room in back, and other rooms that I never saw.  The old guys that worked there, I know I’m going to get their names wrong, but here it goes.  Elines and Zup.  I can see them.  I remember when we were 8, we bought Copenhagen from Zup.  He knew who we were and he knew no one in our family used snuff.  He asked me who it was for,  and I froze.  The first name that came to my mind was “Father Dan”!  Zup busted out laughing and sold us the Cope.   Always good to include a priest in your lies!  We chewed the snuff.  We puked.  We never chewed again.  They had this really cool bowling machine, with regular balls and the fold up pins.  They had tournaments and a big score board and they had prizes.  And I was good, so I got to play with the men.  I even had my name on the wall with the high scores a few times when I bowled 300s.  I should have known then!  I remember one night when I was 14, I was bowling with my dad and Grandpa Barnett and I was tearing it up.  Zup’s son Bill was tending bar.  He was probably in his late 20’s, early 30’s, a really cool guy.  I went to the bar to get my dad and Grandpa a beer.  Bill pours 2, gets a shot glass and pours a shot of Jim Beam and slides it to me and says, ‘It’s on the house’.  No shit!  I drink the shot, and he just laughs because I didn’t choke or anything, since I may have had a shot before that some time in my life.  Like I said, different times.

Kids drank and adults kind of looked the other way unless it got out of hand.  I can remember going to weddings at St. Joe’s Hall in the Grove.  My cousins Mike Deverich and Dennis Skender and I would keep each paper cup from every beer we drank at the wedding.  I remember drinking 8 beers when I was 12 years old.  My Auntie Ann Skender took me home that night with Dennis, and before bed, she made us screwdrivers with cherry vodka.  She was a cool lady!  I miss her.  She had a totally unique perspective on things.

The Holy Name Society was a group of men that met a few times a month in the basement of St. Mary’s Church to drink, smoke and cuss.  They used to keep a case of whiskey in the hallway behind the kitchen in the basement.  We used to help ourselves.  The same guys had a club, called the Preseren Glee Club, where they bought a big mountain retreat and they go up there and drink and smoke and cuss.  I went up with Terry Yoxey and his dad one day.  The men were going to paint.  They started drinking, and nothing got painted.  They didn’t pay much attention, and Terry and I both bagged a six pack of Walter’s.  11 years old.  We had a bb gun with us.  Two eleven year olds with a twelve pack and a gun.  Different times. Well, actually maybe not.  We just used the bb gun to try to shoot chipmunks.  We’re lucky we didn’t shoot our eyes out.  We guzzled alter wine. Father Dan liked a very dry, white wine.  It didn’t taste great.  It didn’t matter.  We drank it if we could.  Father Claude liked this swee red, like a Burgundy.  Loved that wine.

 

I had a few alcohol memories that are almost Bojon Town related, close enough to include.  Hey, it’s my blog!  I had a really good friend in about 5th, 6th and 7th grade named Alan Marck.  Good friend.  We really got along well.  He lived across the bridge, though.  His mom and dad owned Northern Avenue Liquors, and they lived in an apartment in the back of the store.  He had a room in the basement with his toys and stuff, which was right next to the liquor storage.  So, we filched a bottle now and then.   My mom and dad had an old washing machine in the shed, and I had a bottle hidden in there.  One of my sisters found it and turned it in.  My dad started locking the shed because he thought a bum was getting in and sleeping and hiding his whiskey.  Alan’s parents never went to church, but they sent him every Sunday.  They gave him an envelope for the collection place with $25 every week, which as my Uncle Cheech would say, was a lot of geedis for those days!  Alan had a policy.  3 weeks for the church, week 4 for Alan.  He’d walk to the church and hang around until I got out, and then we’d be off to blow the $20.  Sorry God.  I was young.

 

Gus’s Tavern was close to Bojon Town, in distance and attitude.  Right across the bridge, on Elm Street.  Big beers, and the best Dutch Lunches on the Planet!  Anyone still remember those huge St. Bernard dogs that used to live behind the bar?

One last nightmare….er….memory.  16 years old.  Driving my awesome 1962 Chevy Impala that I bought from Uncle Hazhie for $200.  Coming home from the Mesa Drive in after splitting a case of Coors and a bottle of Sangria with Tommy Skul.  We get right in front of the old Martin Music, and I get pulled over by a state patrolman.  I’m driving by leaning my head on the window frame and trying to follow the white lines.  The cop asks me where I live, and tells me to drive my ass straight home and park my car.  He follows me and watches me until I get in the house.  Like I said, different times.  I’m not proud of this stuff (well, some of it, maybe a bit) and it’s not an approval of the consumption of alcohol.  In fact, I rarely even have one drink any more.  It just doesn’t work for me like it used to.  But man, it was a big part of a lot of memories when I was a kid.

 

On a Bojon note, a really cool site to check out about Bojon Town.  A little tilted towards Eiler’s Street, but still a cool piece.  Nice to see interest in the old neighborhood.  http://www.cpr.org/news/story/pueblos-old-bojon-town-could-become-national-historic-district

Until next time……………..

 

 

 

 

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Hello cousin! My sister Mitzi (Mary) told me to check out your blog a few months ago. Where does time go? I loved this story you tell. Gosh I remember your grandpa Medved’s liquor store. You know Uncle Bear and Auntie Gela were godparents to me and all my siblings? My dad loved his sisters and his phamily! I have so many wonderful stories about my dad in his younger days from Auntie Gela. I will always visit their graves when I go home. My oldest daughter wanted to buy my folks house on Topeka Street when mom passed away. I wish she could have! Sigh! My dad built that house with his own hands. 1946 the year my brother Eddie was born. I ran into Charlie Anzlovar last week! When I said my maiden name he said “Nah, Kotzmen! The bojon way! LOL! He was my neighbor when I was a kid and he is in between my sister Mary and my brother Ed. I remember in the 8th grade MIchael Dovgan and Ricky Masciotra brought whiskey they snatched from their respective bars! All the orphan boys got drunk! Oh man, that nun, Sister Satan, I mean, Sister Xavier beat .I felt so sorry for them! Ricky and Michael got into so much trouble for that! Gosh lots of good memories and do you remember Johnny Smith’s barber shop? On Northern Avenue! I bowled with his daughter Barbara in a league in my early twenties.My dad said he also worked another job. Goodness so many memories. Also George the mailman’s wife Minka owned a bakery on Northern. I remember a cake she made me when I was a little kid. It was shaped like an Easter bonnet. I loved it and my mom always had a Spring like cake for me because being born in December I hated the green and red cakes with Santa and such! Many good memories of alcohol and our youth! When my mom passed away many of the cousins told me they had their first sip of beer courtesy of my mom. They said Auntie Celie would never rat them out! HaHaHa! She liked an ice cold beer too. I’m like you today, I can not do much drinking but when we were younger it was fun! I was glad to see you post this. I had to text my sis and send her over to read your blog. I hope you are doing ok. It stinks getting older and having a health problem is not a picnic! I work for a doctor, ears, nose and throat. I am going to share your health findings with him he is a smart guy, I like to ask him questions. I have to send my buddy Rob Predolich over to your blog. He is such a character and we visit often at Face Book. Bojons have to stick together! Take care and keep writing, you do a great job! HUgs, Anne Kocman Robinson

    Reply

    • Hi Anne! I was thinking about you when I mentioned the car I bought from your dad. I loved that car, and it worked so well because he took such good care of it. I remember going to St. Mary’s with you and playing tetherball when I was little. I remember the thing with Mikey Dovgan. I remember that the kids from the orphanage gave him their Christmas presents for the booze! I remember the bakery too! That’s the first time I thought of that in years. And now that I think about it, your mom snuck me a beer or two back then! Speaking of your dad, when I was going to college in Denver, in 1975, I was living with my Auntie Jeannie and Uncle Les in Lakewood. There was a gas station next to Applejack Liquors, and I pulled in to fill up with gas. I looked at the guy on the other side of the pump and it was your dad, in his truck with your mom. I couldn’t believe it. 120 miles from Pueblo, and we both pull into that station at the same time. I really miss all of the aunts and uncles. It’s good to hear from you! Keep in touch!

      Reply

  2. Posted by Susan Heienickle on July 22, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Enjoying your blog, Mike, brings back a lot of memories. I was a little before your time. Grew up on Mesa Street 710,(Hochevar family), close to Anzicks from around 1953 until we left for Sunset Park in 1963. My grandparents, Frank (PeeWee) and Mary Zupancic lived on Eilers right next to the alley and across the street from Minka’s home. Loved Minka’s Bakery, the rock candy and pastries were always a treat. Elines and Zup were my grandpa PeeWee’s brothers and he worked with them in Vet’s Tavern so I have many fond memories of growing up in Bojon town. Bill is Elines’ son and my second cousin. Zup lived upstairs at the tavern and I remember the Nehi Grape sodas and occasional sip of beer that we used to get at the bar. Went to St.Mary’s school and was married in 1967 in St, Mary’s Church. My husbands great uncle lived next door to Eilers Bar. It was a good time and remembering so many things from the simpler times back them. Keep up the writing you do a great job!!

    Reply

    • Hi Susan! Thanks for the kind words. Believe it or not, I’ve got a story about nicknames that I’ve been working on, and I had PeeWee down, but I couldn’t remember who it was. Now I have the right name to put to it! It’s so cool to hear from people that knew the people that I’m writing about. I barely remember Minka’s, but I definitely remember Vet’s! I guess that says a lot about me. Thanks again for the nice words. I’ll be writing more soon.

      Reply

  3. Michael I always come by hoping you have written more! HeeHee! You are such an encouragement. Our middle daughter loves her dad’s Irish heritage and wants to travel there?.It doesn’t hurt that Nick had a handsome room mate from Ireland in his first year of college (LOL). Oh gosh, the nicknames. You have to do a post about it! Once, I remember answering our telephone and they asked to speak with “Spike”. My dad had two nicknames and that one was the one the guys at the CF&I called him! Except I did not know that and told the guy he had a wrong number! I was in trouble! LOL! My dad had the kindest heart and he loved each and every remember of his phamily. He always told wonderful stories about the phamily and never used an unkind word about anyone ever! I wish I knew why they called him Haizie! All his sisters called him that but Grandma Kocman called him “Ed a”! Just her language style. I remember once my dad said he loved his name “Edward” but no one ever called him that and he said when he passed away he hoped the priest would call him by his given name! Did you know Tiddles? He was the neighbor at the grandparents house at 1110 Bohmen. He lived there with his sister Elsie and their last name was Mramor. Tiddles lived into his nineties. My sis and I had hoped to go visit him, he was in the Veterans Home in Penrose but he passed away before we could. Oh man, I have stories in my head from him. Gosh he lived thru the war (WWII) His brother Felix took his life when he returned from the war. Tiddles said his brother couldn’t handle it, they were in the death march at Bataan. My sister told me Tiddles real name was Anton and they also called him T and Tony! If my nephews the Ricklefs boys ever reveal my nickname as a child, I will fly to Kentucky and beat them all with a stick! HeeHee! My sister gave me a secret nickname. I use it for passwords over here and no one but her and I know it! I doubt a hacker could ever crack that code! LOL!I get too gabby here but you bring the memories out for me. Love you cousin!

    Reply

    • I’m working on a story about all of the nicknames. I remember my Grandma calling your dad “Ed a”. I also remember some of his old CF&I guys coming into the station and calling him Spike. Man, there are some nicknames in that neighborhood. I’d love to hear the stories behind them. Hopefully I can get busy and finish that story this week.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Mikey Deverich on January 12, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Mike, I read the 3 pages about “where can I get a Drink” and googled Bojon Town Mike Barnett and found of the rest just as entertaining. As a member of the family that has owned Eilers Bar since 8-3-33 I couldn’t agree more. There is no Eilers neighborhood just Bojon Town. You identification of the location was spot on, I will always wonder if anyone ever swam in Hunts pool. Bojon Town is both a real place and Avalon at the same time. When needed it will reconstructed.

    Reply

    • Mike, you know a lot of what I’m talking about, because you were a major part in a lot of the festivities! I can’t imagine how different it would have been growing up without you around.

      Reply

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