Childhood memories with my Dad
Being a kid in a bar
Let me start by saying, I was a pretty lucky kid. For being a city boy, my Dad tried as much as possible to take me hunting, fishing, and camping. Many of my friends never had that privilege. But growing up in Wisconsin isn't always trees, deer, and cheese. I have many fond memories of being in a bar. Now before you think anything seedy, I'm talking about a corner bar that was a hangout for my Dad and his buddies, think the show Cheers. I would like to tell you about all the great memories I have being in a bar with my Father.
The first part, I just loved going places with my Dad. I didn't know then, but he worked very hard to support us and that didn't leave as much time as he wanted to spend with us. So when he told me, "Go grab your jacket" I always got excited. Taking the motorcycle was always an added bonus. For the most part we would always meet his buddies at the same place. One guy had a son my age, we didn't go to the same school though. So at age 5, I had my own bar buddy.
It was great, I would walk in with my Dad, and my buddy would be there already with a soda waiting for me. The grown-ups would have a couple of beers and we'd share a pitcher of soda and have a great time. One of the best things, was playing pool. Sure I could barely see above the table and I was holding the pool cue like a spear about to kill a fish, but I had fun. We would take turns destroying the felt and knocking balls nowhere near the pockets. Just about all the games ended with us either pocketing the balls by hand, or throwing the cue ball into other balls. We would rough house, play darts (again with little to no accuracy) and just have a good time. It was great having a special friend just at this one place.
But he wasn't always there, so I would have to amuse myself sometimes. Some bars have video games, but this one didn't, it had electronic slot machines. If any of you have kids now, try this. I remember more than one time my Dad put in ten dollars in a fruit slot and he got at least a hundred back. Kids are lucky. I had no idea what I was doing, I was hitting all the buttons like it was a fighter game. All of sudden, the buttons didn't do anything anymore. I had stopped the machine at the perfect time to get the all fruit bonus. And I've seen another kid do the exact same thing. I don't know the scientific reason behind it, but kids are great gamblers.
What is a trip to the bar without the snacks? Sure you had your everyday salty chips and pretzel rods, but my favorite was, and still is, beef jerky. You could buy the packaged stuff like Slim Jims that were ok, but I liked the homemade stuff. The kind that was huge, the bar we went to called them pig ears. A giant chunk of beef jerky that would take my small jaws an hour to rip apart and devour. I still love those, I'll take the made from a guy in the bar stuff over that prepackaged stuff any day. But not everything I tried I liked. And I'm pretty sure that my Dad and buddies already knew that. Pretty sure he bought me pickled eggs and pickled herring just to see my face when I put that nasty crap in my mouth. And you know what, I can't wait to do it to my kids if I ever have any. The coolest thing to eat at the bar
was peanuts. You know why? You got to throw the shells on the floor. I guess the salt helps make the floor shiny or something, but I didn't care about that. Telling a kid you can eat this food and throw it anywhere on the ground is one of the coolest things ever. Of course I would have to push the limits and try to throw shells underneath hard to get places, but I remember thinking how neat it was to have special eating rules at the bar too.
The last great part of growing up in a bar, is seeing the next generation. It's actually a very cool cycle to witness. I am watching my own buddies bring their kids to the bar, watching them play pool and have as much fun as I did when I was that age. Literally my first job was working for this bar. I would put flyers around peoples doors for promotions in the winter. The owner is just a cool guy and there is a lot of history in that place. To this day, he doesn't like to have the door open in the summer because he remembers how much dust from the horses going by would get into the bar. I love hearing stories like that. Now, I am finally old enough to buy a round of drinks. That might sound silly to some, "why would you want to buy?"
To me, it's a respect thing. I am very close with my Dad. I'm not a kid anymore that needs to be bought a pitcher of soda. I am one of the guys and takes turns buying a round like everybody else. I have learned more about being a man talking with my Dad in a bar. I have a deeper understanding of what it takes to have a family. I love the loyalty and friendship of it all. I just wanted to share with everyone (and especially you Dad!) how many great memories I have from that part of my childhood.