Modern(e) Family

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I have written at length in several posts about Thebeerchaser’s six-day solo Montana road trip in the fall of 2019 – solo, that is, until I picked up my wife, Janet when she flew into Billings for the remaining nine-days of our trip.

The trip began with two days in Yaak, Montana where I spent a great amount of time at the Dirty Shame Saloon, getting to know the unforgettable character and now friend, John Runkle while I stayed at John’s Yaak River Lodge.

Devouring John Runkle’s blueberry pancakes in the Yaak River Lodge dining room

Overnight stays in Kalispell, Hamilton, Anaconda and Livingston followed – all wonderful, towns that beckon a return after COVID becomes a vivid memory from 2020 – not one etched into our everyday thoughts and prayers.

Now during that time, I hit 29 bars and breweries in pursuit of my Beerchasing retirement hobby started in 2011.  Due to the number of establishments, aside from the Shame, I have featured multiple watering holes in each post until now — the Club Moderne in the historic mining town of Anaconda.

That’s because not only is the architecture and décor totally different than any other bar in Montana, the Dakotas, Wyoming and Idaho, but the momentous story that continues to cement the Moderne’s legacy in the robust history of Anaconda is unique.

Now I am not and never will be a hunter, but I loved one almost universal characteristic of the Montana dive bars I visited.  Taxidermy is a recurring and dominant theme and as evidenced by the fact that there are 205 taxidermists registered in Montana and Helena even has the Montana School of Taxidermy and Tanning.

The 2019 annual convention of the Montana Taxidermists’ Association in Billings was the most well-attended ever according to the Billings Gazette.  The product of taxidermists is ingrained in the culture – kind of like soccer in Europe and losing in the Pac 12 Athletic Conference since Larry Scott became the Commissioner….

A notable example is the stuffed alligator hanging over what is reported to be the longest bar in Montana at the Blue Moon Saloon in Columbus Falls – the saloon also has a polar bear and grizzly in a gigantic glass display case among others on display. 

Although there are too many to mention in this post, don’t forget the albino mule deer fawn tucked in between multiple other formerly wild creatures on the west wall of the legendary New Atlas Saloon in the heart of Columbus – a bar that originated in 1906.

It’s described by Joan Melcher, author of two outstanding books on historic Montana watering holes:

“Hulking throughout the room are bald eagles, an albino mule deer fawn, a coyote howling to the moon, young bobcats fighting an Audak (African mountain sheep), a Canadian lynx, raccoon or two, a fox, a snow owl. moose heads, elk heads – buffalo, antelope, mountain sheep – all kinds of head….

….After a few drinks, you feel countless pairs of eyes bearing down.  You have another beer to relax under their scrutiny, look around again, and you’re among friends, the animals’ glares having softened to amused acceptance.”  (Page 95 – Montana Watering Holes by Joan Melcher)

One of multiple footrest spittoons at the New Atlas

The historic character is usually enhanced by dark wooden bars and backbars and in the New Atlas, spittoons, in the footrest running the full length of the bar.

But the Club had a one-of-a-kind exterior – at least in Montana – and possibly one of just two similar themes in the Western US (see below).

In Big Sky Country, such design was tantamount to finding a liberal arts major at an aggie school like Oregon State University or a guy, in what some regard as the Micro-brew capital of the Western Hemisphere, ordering a Budweiser at after-work gatherings in the PacWest Center in downtown Portland.  (Oh yeah, I guess I meet both of those conditions, but you understand my point – the Club Moderne is just very unusual and surprising given the context.)

Now even though I was a liberal arts major, I had to look up the definition of “moderne”  – it’s defined by the Free Dictionary, in part, as:

“Of or relating to the art deco style marked by bright colors and geometric shapes….An architectural and decorative style popular from the 1930s to the 1940s and characterized by streamlined and curved surfaces, strong horizontal lines, and minimal surface ornament.”

And the Club Moderne was added to the National  Trust for Historic Preservation in 1986 and described on its website:

“The bar was – and still is – a sight to behold, with its rounded front facade and Carrara glass panels that perfectly embody the Art Deco style of architecture popular in the U.S. earlier last century.  Club Moderne was built under the direction of owner John “Skinny” Francisco. The building was designed by Bozeman, Montana-based architect Fred Willson and built by local carpenters and craftspeople.”

And the City of Anaconda – dating back to 1893 and a with current population of about 10,000, has an interesting history:

“…..founded by Marcus Daly, one of the Copper Kings, who financed the construction of the Anaconda smelter on nearby Warm Springs Creek to process copper ore from the Butte mines……

The Anaconda company expanded smelting capacity over time; by 1919 the Washoe Reduction Works could boast that its 585-foot (178 m) smokestack was the tallest masonry structure in the world and that the smelter-refining complex constituted the world’s largest non-ferrous processing plant. In 1980, Atlantic Richfield Co. closed the smelter, bringing an end to almost a century of mineral processing.”  (Wikipedia)

One of my friends lived there during the 1950’s and said that the town bustled with activity.  There was a bar on almost every block of Commercial Street.  But disaster struck in 2016 and a devastating fire ravaged the Club Moderne the night of October 3rd. To understand the sentiment of Anaconda residents, consider an article in The Missoulian when the Moderne reopened in the spring of 2017 after community efforts to make it happen.

One resident described the loss of the Club Moderne as “the most devastating thing to happen to Anaconda.”….Victor Zenahlik, a captain with the Anaconda Fire Department, said he felt “heartbroken and sickened” when he got the call to respond to the Club Moderne.  (The Missoulian – May 13, 2017)

But the Moderne, at least from what I saw, never lost the family-type character and historic flavor which defined it.  According to an article in the Montana Standard on 10/4/16:

“‘This is a place where you brought your lady. This is a place where you could be comfortable. This is a place where they had it similar to Cheers where everyone knew your name,’ he said. ‘Everyone was welcomed when they came to the Club Moderne. It was a comfortable place and it spanned all the generations — from 21-year-olds to 80-year-olds.” ”

The Owl – not an inviting environment

And it was the exact opposite of The Owl Bar – another Anaconda bar I visited which was one of the few places on my trip where I had the distinct vibe that those who weren’t regulars should probably find another place to drink.

Admittedly, this sentiment is based on only one try, although my visits to about 400 watering holes since 2011, gives me a pretty good feel for mood.   The Owl originally, and for many years, didn’t have stools at the bar which is some indication that it was more of a place to throw down shots than to mingle.

In contrast, the Moderne had and has a family environment which is what led to its recovery after the fire.   In the words of Stephanie Hekkel, the Moderne owner’s words, describing what she liked best – “….hanging out with some of Anaconda’s old-timers, who ranged from miners to smelter workers, lawyers, teachers and policemen…..They had their stools. Everyone knew where you sat…..Some regulars came five days a week.”  The Montana Standard 10/4/16

Is this what you call a “beer chaser…?”

I sat down at the bar and the friendly bartender, Destiny, went through the tap list while a woman named Wanda sitting on an adjacent bar stool, advised me that I should try the Bloody Mary – it was a great choice and not just because it was served in a tall Bud Lite glass….

It turned out that Wanda had some Oregon roots as she went to college at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon – about twenty miles from my house.

And joining in the conversation were two affable young guys – Kyle and Logan – who it turned out were staying at the same hotel as I was and were in Anaconda for a month on a contract for the Montana Highway Department to install underground culverts.  The Club had quickly become their “bar of choice.”

The front of the establishment where the bar and booths are located is a bright and inviting room where various ornate trinkets and mementos adorn a lighted display case over the full length of the backbar. (The Moderne does not have a website and research did not yield any underlying story, but they were interesting.)

Author Melcher describe the front room in her 2009 visit:

“We order drinks and settle in, taking in the unerring details of art deco design.  The perfect geometry of the back bar, the copper and aluminum checkerboard ceiling, the stainless steel accents, the angles and lines in inlaid wood, the chromium and leather furniture – all details – all preserved.”

The larger back room – once restricted for ladies – because in Montana, as in many American jurisdictions, females could not drink in the same room as males – they had a separate entrance on the side or back of the establishment.   It’s now reserved for community events with a number of chairs, a shuffleboard game and an electronic dart board.

As a wonderful coincidence, Camille (Cam) Fallow, one of our nearby Oregon friends, when I related my Montana road trip experience and visit to the Club effused:

“Oh, You have found part of Anaconda’s history!  Many years ago, Club Moderne’s bartenders wore starched white vests and ties and the back room area was very formal.

Much of the design of the building was unique.  Folks far and wide knew about Anaconda’s Club Moderne, owned and operated by my step-father,
Skinny Francisco!  So happy that you stopped by there!”

The picture below from the Club’s Facebook page affirms Cam’s statement in this picture on its 80th birthday in 2017, when everyone dressed up as in the “old days.”
So, if you travel to Montana, be sure to put this bar on your itinerary.  And speaking of Cam’s step-dad, Skinny Francisco, if you prefer a more urban setting on the West Coast where you can check out the art-deco architecture, you might want to try the country’s other Club Moderne in the heart of San Francisco.

Stookey’s Club Moderne is located between Nob Hill and Union Square on the corner of Bush and Taylor Streets, where owner Tim Stookey also provides the art-deco vibe according to an article in Liquor.com.

“Tim Stookey, Stookey’s namesake co-owner, has spent nearly 20 years behind a bar. After much reconnaissance, he landed on the space near the city’s Nob Hill neighborhood.

The building itself has, appropriately, been a bar since 1944 and in all likelihood, ‘they were slinging booze here since Prohibition,’ says Stookey. The former Faverman’s Pharmacy #4—there were once five locations in San Francisco—became Faverman’s Liquors and remained a bar until its current incarnation.”

Cheers and Stay Safe!

Image by Pam Williams

On Veterans and Lawyers….

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Based on the tyranny of the urgent as well as the unique challenges presented in 2020, we may tend to overlook our traditional commemoration of individuals and groups on Veterans’ Day.

We are in the midst of a global pandemic, experienced raging wildfires throughout the West, encountered protests and riots over the issue of social and racial injustice, witnessed businesses floundering or ceasing operation and endured divisive political campaigns culminating in one of the closest and most contentious elections in many years.   Oh yes – and now we face the ever-present dilemma of how, with many gyms still closed, to get back in shape and lose the poundage gained snacking during the lockdowns.

We cannot, however, forget those who had a profound impact on preserving our freedom –  our Veterans.  In this Beerchaser post, I’ll attempt to reinforce the importance of taking time during Veterans’ Day on November 11th to hail their dedication, sacrifice and patriotism.

A poster from 2013

In a recent post, based on my forty years of working with them, I named lawyers –  as a group -as my Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.   Now I know some of you may think that the recent post-election turnout of lawyers exceeded the turnout of voters, but they are critical to preserving the Rule of Law – a foundation of our system of justice.

And below, I will single out a few of them – some who have previously garnered the “honor” of Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, but should also be recognized for their distinguished service in the Armed Forces.  In closing, I name a few others who should also be saluted on this day.

The headline and narrative below first appeared as an opinion piece in my local newspaper in 1998.  It was inspired by an event at the law firm where I worked for twenty-five years – the last thirteen as the Chief Operating Officer.

A number of times in the past, I have asserted why Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt is an outstanding firm – not only for its superb lawyers and support personnel, but also its culture, commitment to civic engagement and community service. The event below is just one example of how Schwabe distinguishes itself and I want to share it again.

(The following was originally published in the West Linn Tidings in November, 1968.)

“Vets Stories Awe Law Firm, Honor Holiday”

Joe Willis

Joe Willis is a senior partner in the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm based in Portland, Oregon.  Joe was an E-5 (petty officer second class) in the Navy quite a few years in the past.

A few months ago, he sent an e-mail to everyone in the firm.  Joe asked military veterans to e-mail him back, indicating the branch of service and some details about when and where they served.  Those of us who responded promptly forgot about his unusual electronic request.

But Joe didn’t forget.  He felt that Veterans’ Day is now largely taken for granted.  Joe wanted his law firm to think about what it signifies.  On November 14th, he sent another e-mail with the invitation below inviting everyone to a social function honoring the men and women in the firm who are veterans.

Most people in the firm attended – many out of curiosity.  Willis made a few opening remarks (after all, he’s trial lawyer…) and then asked three of the firms named partners to relate stories about their military service.  We heard:

John Schwabe – After he graduated from college, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and then completed officer training. He endured beach landings and the battles of Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Saipan. For his service, he was awarded a Silver Star, five Bronze Stars and a Presidential Citation for Valor.

John told about coming ashore in the Battle of Tarawa as a Marine Corps officer.  Of the twenty-two men in his amphibious vehicle, only four survived – one of them received the Medal of Honor posthumously.  

John Schwabe was known for his humility and modesty and Joe had at one time asked him why he volunteered to go back on the last two of his four campaigns and John told him simply, “Because it had to be done.”

Wendell Wyatt – This former Oregon Congressman told about flying reconnaissance missions as a Marine Corps aviator in the South Pacific from 1942-46.

Marine aviator, Congressman and lawyer

Wayne Williamson – He related an exciting and somewhat humorous tale about when he was a Naval officer during World War II.  While his ship was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Germans surrendered to the Allies.   Without much warning, a German U-Boat surfaced near them evidently to surrender.

German SS – “Surface and Surrender??

Armed to the hilt including a pistol, grenades and a submachine gun he didn’t know how to operate, he and his party boarded the sub.  They descended the ladder to take command of the vessel, which was a problem because no one in the submarine could speak English and none in the boarding party knew any German.

As everyone in the firm listened attentively, Wayne told how as he looked at all the German sailors surrounding them, he “got the giggles” at the absurdity of the situation.

The hour passed 5 0’clock, as the lawyers continued their stories.  No one left.  Everyone, but especially the young people, listened with rapt attention.  Joe Willis distributed a large sheet of paper with a chart he made giving each veteran’s, branch of service, rank or rating and duty stations.

US Army Intelligence and Security Command logo

Attorney, Jack Faust, who served in Army counter-intelligence, walked in wearing his kaki tunic (several sizes too small, which was probably why he didn’t wear the pants).

On display in the conference room was a pith helmet one of the soldiers had worn on active duty, along with some photos of people who were in the room, but “hard to recognize” from the photos taken years before.  People cheered as the veterans finished their stories.

That morning as I drove in, I bemoaned the fact that the firm was not closed to commemorate the holiday unlike government offices, schools and banks.  When I went home that night, I thought it had been the most memorable Veterans’ Day I could remember.  Each person who attended had been enriched by the experience.

Thanks Joe.  Well done.  Mission accomplished!

Well, that’s the Schwabe story, but there are some additional individuals who I want to salute on this Veterans’ Day – mostly lawyers, but also some friends and relatives:

Former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter

(To see the full story of each BOQ including the full text of the medal commendations for Blakely, Bomarito and Lawrence, click on the link over their names below)

Jack Faust

Jack Faust – US Army –  He served in Army intelligence and counterintelligence during the Korean War.  From 1953-55 as a Special Agent in the US Army Counterintelligence Corps – detachment Far East Command, he was stationed in Korea, Japan and China.  Jack is a retired Portland attorney and the former moderator of the Town Hall public affairs television program.

Jud Blakely – USMC After graduating from Oregon State University in 1965, where he served as Student Body President, Jud was commissioned as a USMC 2nd Lt.

He spent a total of 13 months in combat ops in Viet Nam as an infantry platoon leader with India Co., 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines.

He received two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star. His purple hearts were for a punji-stake puncture in his knee and shrapnel wounds in his forehead from a midnight mortar attack during the monsoons on the southern edge of the DMZ.

Jud writes and consults from his home in Alabama.

Doug Bomarito – USN – a good friend of Jud Blakely, Doug graduated from the US Naval Academy.  As a Navy Ensign, he initially was on a destroyer, but in 1969 volunteered for Patrol Boats River (PBR), which patrolled in the hostile rivers and canals.

Lt. jg. Bomarito

He served as a patrol officer for a number of PBRs attached to a River Division near the Cambodian border by the Gulf of Thailand.  It was, to say the least, hazardous duty.

February 23, 1970, on his 75th combat mission, the boat on which he was directing tactics and another for which he had responsibility, were ambushed by the North Vietnamese.

During a severe fire-fight, Doug and two of the crew were wounded and eventually medevacked to hospitals, but not before Doug completed his mission.  He received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his heroism.

He is now a Portland lawyer.  Bomarito was a key player in developing, designing and funding the Viet Nam Veterans of Oregon Living Memorial. (see below)

The “grown-up versions of Blakely and Bomarito

Jim Westwood

Jim Westwood – USN This now semi-retired Oregon appellate lawyer in the ’60’s was the Captain of the legendary Portland State College Bowl Team which made headlines for its victories on national television.

After graduation from PSU and before law school at  Columbia University, he was commissioned in the Navy and served as a Naval Intelligence Officer for several years.  Because of his superior language skills, he spent a year learning Thai – an extremely difficult language to master.

Steve Lawrence – US Army Steve is a retired lawyer and until recently, the two-term Mayor of the Dalles, Oregon went to Boise Jr. College after graduating from The Dalles High School, but enlisted in 1967.  He was selected for Officer Candidate School, was commissioned and then commanded an infantry platoon in Viet Nam.

While a Second Lieutenant, Steve recalled several “serious helicopter events” including two crashes nearby during fire-fights, and an Army pilot who made three passes firing on Steve’s troops and wounding half of his squad before the chopper was called off by radio.

His Silver Star was awarded for action in combat in July 1968 and Bronze Star for “his display of personal bravery and devotion to duty” in February 1969.  His Bronze Star has an Oak Leaf Cluster because he received a second one for meritorious service while still in Viet Nam.

The Late Colonel Terry “Spike” McKinsey – USMC Ret. – I first met this Gladstone, Oregon native who was to become a legendary jet pilot when we were shipmates on a Navy destroyer (USS John R. Craig DD 885) on our 3/c midshipman summer training cruise when I was in NROTC at Oregon State and he was at the Naval Academy.

Terry took his commission in the Marine Corps and after his eighteen-year career in the active military where he earned the nickname “Spike” because of his tendency to come in for “hard landings,” he flew for the Oregon Air National Guard.  As a result of his charismatic leadership skills, he became the Base Commander from 1985 to 1989.  He then flew as Assistant Chief Pilot for Horizon Airlines.

Spike passed away in 2019 and this excerpt from his obituary written by a USNA classmate sums up his character:

“During his 72 years, Spike’s undeniable strength, unconditional kindness, and unquestionable integrity made a lasting impact on his friends, colleagues, and family….. Spike lived a life true to his values. He stood for what is right and didn’t hesitate to step in when he saw injustice in action.”

Proudly on display at The Dirty Shame

John Runkle  US Army –  He joined the Army in 1980 and was ordered to Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia.  John became a Paratrooper with the 509th Airborne Combat Team, was shipped to Europe and graduated from the French Commando School. 

He also earned Spanish Jump Wings.  The big guy made a total of 53 jumps.

He served as a member of an Army Service component command of United States Africa Command, which although based in Italy, primarily operated in Africa.  His last billet was as an instructor at Fort Benning.

John is now the owner of the Dirty Shame Saloon and the Yaak River Lodge in Yaak, Montana.  I met him on my 2019 Montana road trip and “The Shame” was the most interesting and my favorite of any of the 400 watering holes I’ve reviewed since starting I started Beerchasing in 2011.

Thebeerchaser giving John two bottles of Benedictine Beer in 2019

Don (NROTC) Garry (USMA West Point) Rick (NROTC)

Captain Rick Williams USN Ret. – Although all three of the Williams boys served in the military, our youngest brother had a long and distinguished Navy career.

After graduation and commissioning from the NROTC program at Oregon State, he became a Navy hard-hat diver and then commanded a deep submergence vehicle (USS Sea Cliff DSV 4) including a dive to 20,000 feet in the Middle American Trench off Guatemala.

On his “journey” he went to Nuclear Power School after an interview with the late Admiral Hyman Rickover.  He retired as the Skipper of the USS Spadefish SSN 668 – a Sturgeon Class attack submarine.

And while mentioning submarines, I don’t want to forget our brother-in-law, Dave Booher, a retired teacher and school administrator.

Dave served as a sonarman on two Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines for five nuclear deterrent patrols and was aboard the diesel boat USS Dogfish – it was older than the Beerchaser, having been launched in 1944!.

Dale Harlan

Dale Harlan – US ArmySoon after the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, he volunteered for the U.S. Army and was sent overseas. Dale was awarded two battle stars and the Air Medal for service in the Central Pacific. Subsequently, he volunteered for the Parachute Infantry and was assigned to Company E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles).

Dale received two battle stars in Europe, two Presidential Unit Citations, and a Purple Heart. He was severely wounded in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium in January 1945.

He passed away in 2017 and had a distinguished career as a lawyer and elected official besides a life-long commitment to charitable and civic activities.  Dale Harlan is the epitome of those in the Greatest Generation and was a wonderful friend.

But my final recognition on this Veteran’s Day goes to two members of the military who gave the last full measure of devotion to their country:

Captain Donald Wilburn

Don Wilburn – US Army Air Corps – Captain Donald E. Wilburn was my dad’s best friend and SAE fraternity brother at George Washington University.  Don was a pilot in the Army Air Corps and died during World War II. I’m honored to be named after him (Donald Wilburn Williams)

Gary Kestler – US Marine Corps – Gary Kestler was my best friend at Oregon City High School and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1967.  He was killed by enemy rifle fire while on patrol in Quang Tri Province in Viet Nam on May 28, 1968.  In high school, Gary was a student leader, a multi-sport athlete and a friend to all.

So what are a just a few things we can do this Veterans’ Day to pay homage to those who served:

  • Show the flag at your personal residence.
  • Call a veteran(s) and thank him or her for their service.
  • Raise a mug and make a personal toast to those currently serving.
  • Send a check to the Viet Nam Veteran’s of Oregon Memorial Fund (VNVOMF) to honor all of our Viet Nam Veterans.  Send to:
Doug Bomarito, Attorney at Law
Past Chairman and President
7157 S.W. Beveland Street
Tigard, OR 97223
(503) 223-8285

Cheers to our Veterans!

Reflections on Elections and Rhetoric

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While the virus is an insidious and continuing health threat and the wildfires which raged across Oregon and the West Coast brought staggering losses, another disheartening 2020 phenomenon is the ubiquitous and unfortunately unrelenting rhetoric surrounding the election campaigns.

The lack of civility and rational dialogue has redefined the meaning of “polarized” and we can only hope that after November 3rd, the citizenry of the US will pull together and a plan to conquer the virus is developed.

Meanwhile, it inspired me to re-read a relevant little book with some gems that seem strangely appropriate.   Excuses and Lies – Pithy Proclamations for the Workplace, Liked Ones, Loved Ones, Self Deceptions, Behaving Badly and Famously Infamous is a handy primer for many rationalizations or departures from the truth which are funny, but not pernicious – unlike those spewed forth in the current political environment.

This includes two of my favorites which I have used previously in this blog (and possibly in my own life..) both of which are in the “Self Deceptions” section of this little tome:

“It’s not drinking alone, as long as you have the TV on.”   (page 66)   

“Red wine prevents heart attacks, but you have to drink a lot of it.”  (page 66)

And it is difficult to argue with the major premises of the book including:

“Indeed, if the truth were consistently told, the result would be social anarchy – the end of friendship, correspondence, entertaining, cohabitation and dating.”  (Page 27)

The moral of this story?  If you love someone, lie – and if you really love them lie with scripted wit and creativity.”  (Page 47)

I’m not willing to accept a very cynical premise conveyed on page 62: “People who lie to themselves are more confident and self-assured than those who grapple with the truth of their own inadequacies.”

Benji – living on a farm in the country…

But what parent can argue with two deceptions in the “Loved Ones” section on page 48 including “We’re almost there,” or

“He went to doggy heaven,” the latter being a more spiritual version of, “We gave him a new home on a farm where he can really run free.”

Travolta in his personal Boeing 707 Jet

And it’s not just rationalizations with young children.  The book makes it all relative in the environmental context when defending one’s own lack of discipline for extra trips to the store, use of plastic water bottles (a ridiculous and outrageous habit) or griping about not being able to use a traditional straw in your soda:

“My carbon footprint is so much less than John Travolta’s.”

In revisiting this book, published by Knock Knock Press in Venice, California, it forced me to take down two other similar and adjacent works on my home office bookshelf – both of which I have showered with praise in previous blog posts – the brilliant On Bullshit by Princeton Emeritus Professor, Dr. Harry Frankfurt and The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm by James  Napoli.

Napoli’s book is witty and brilliant – a dictionary with a broad range of definitions, but particularly relevant in the political realm.  They range from “activist” – “a person who cares about the fate of the world until reaching approximately twenty-eight years of age,” to “zealous” – “Fervently committed to being so fervently committed that nobody wants to talk to you anymore.”

And he is non-partisan, taking shots at both the left and the right:

Biased: “What pissed-off liberals call people they suspect might have a point.”

Conservative: “Someone who hates liberals because they have, at least once, seen themselves naked.”

JC

I recommend it because it’s 367 enjoyable pages of dry wit which will make you laugh even during a pandemic and with rich historical and geographical references.  Two last examples:

Julius Caesar:  “Dictator of ancient Rome.  His nearly fifteen years of conquest which resulted in the formation of the entire Roman Empire; now reduced to salad.”

Canada:  “Free health care.  Low crime. Birthplace of William Shattner.  Two out of three ain’t bad.”

Now, in two past blog posts, I have gushed, at length, about the profound wisdom of Princeton University Emeritus Professor, Dr. Harry Frankfurt in his essay On Bullshit.  https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/03/12/bs-revisited-if-only-i-had-known-in-2012/

One should go through this treatise to garner a better understanding of pre-election communication, but also to put that dialogue in perspective:

“The realms of advertising and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they can serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept.” (emphasis supplied)

So in order to get through the next three days until the election, you need some inspiring reading, I suggest browsing through these and having a good, strong alcoholic libation while viewing the unceasing political ads.   

The Rev. Swift

And remember these two assertions – the first, by Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745) from my own collection of brilliant citations of famous authors and philosophers, I’ve collected over the years. Swift wrote satire and essays and political pamphlets – both for the Tories and the Whigs and was also noted as a poet and cleric.  (Wikipedia)

“If a lie be believed only for an hour, it hath done its work.”

Or from Excuses and Lies if you are caught drinking when it was discouraged or prohibited – from page 91:

“My juice must have accidentally fermented in the cupholder.”

1972 – Have Times Changed that Much?

I’ve mentioned previously that during the lockdown, my wife has justifiably mandated I go through the hundreds of old newspapers, magazine articles, e-mails and documents in our garage from my years in local government and legal management.

Garage Files…..Future High School Civics??

Having reread the aforementioned Lies and Excuses I lamely suggested, “But our granddaughters can use them in their future high school civic classes,” which she summarily rejected and asked, “Have you ever heard of the Internet?”   That said, it has been fun and interesting to wade through this eclectic collection of papers and documents.

And this unsigned letter, a copy of which I made when I worked in the Clackamas County Elections Department dated October 25th 1974, may be evidence that the political environment hasn’t changed that much from years gone by:

During the late 60’s and 70’s with the Viet Nam War, the continuing US Civil Rights Movement and the Nixon Administration, the country was polarized and politics was a nasty business.   In subsequent years, there was a least a modicum of bipartisanship with many beneficial policy issues initiated, destructive and discriminatory past practices remedied and we lived in a more united country.

I have a real interest in history and my intention is not to poke fun at the author of this correspondence who obviously was under some delusional impressions.  (In fact, I admire the fact that he laboriously wrote a long letter notwithstanding his condition: “I am right-handed but have to write with my left hand.  Hope you can read it OK – broke my elbow.”)

The missive demonstrates at least some of the intense emotions of that period. Now, the country is again divided, communication is often acrimonious and we are faced with enormous challenges ranging from the pandemic, wildfires, climate change and unstable global affairs.  

Cheers

My prayer is that after the election we as a nation can unite to address these calamities with concrete actions rather than rancorous rhetoric and that friends with disparate political philosophies can again, raise a mug of their favorite beer.

Then have friendly and respectful discussions (safely and in person).  It seems that we now consciously avoid that kind of dialogue because it will jeopardize the future relationship.

And one final comment from a usually non-political Beerchaser blogger.  I have enjoyed sharing the examples of lies, bullshit and rationalizations above from three “great” literary works. 

It should be strongly noted, however, that there is a vast difference between the everyday exaggerations, fibs, and cock-and-bull stories that most of us utter and the outright lies and falsehoods spouted by both public officials and elected officeholders with deliberate intent to deceive thereby violating their oaths of office. These are  pathetic and disgraceful!

Although I’m now not a member of the same political party, I yearn for the days of bi-partisan politics and some of the great elected officials in Oregon.  My friend, Matt Love, who owns the Nestucca Spit Press – a publishing house on the Oregon Coast recently sent me this decal which will be another garage treasure which is a keeper!

A leader for the ages….

If you have not done so Vote on Tuesday!

The Coast is Clear……..Reflections

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the post is not clipped or shortened.)

 

Well Beerchaser followers, I’ve told you since March that I’ve not been to any new watering hole because of the lockdown and pandemic.  

To be safe, we have just stayed away and confined our consumption of my favorite beverage to Happy Hours on our back deck with the exception of one visit to the Benedictine Brewery in Mount Angel, Oregon. (see below)

We added to that one exception on October 15th however, when we went to the Oregon Coast for a few days.  On a beautiful fall Friday, my spouse convinced me to break away from the Siren Call of “Breaking News” on cable television and drive down the Oregon Coast from our base in Lincoln City on the Central Oregon Coast.  

A beautiful sunset the night before helped me to fully grasp the natural treasure that we have in our own backyard.  

We drove about 50 miles south along Oregon’s amazing scenic coastline momentarily escaping thoughts of COVID and focusing on breaking waves, seals and gulls populating dramatic rocky cliffs and the surrounding lush forest which complements the ocean views. 

And all the while, we remembered the legacy of Governor Tom McCall, whose actions in 1967 preserved public access to the beaches in the Oregon Beach Bill.

On our 2017 road trip

Yachats Brewing was not a new establishment for us – we had stopped here during a road trip in 2017 which I highlighted in a November blog post – it was a wonderful place to have lunch.  Still being cautious about COVID, we ate on the patio which is right on Highway 101.

We split a tasty pint named “Bestest Mensch” which is a hoppy and delicious collaboration with the innovative Wolf Tree Brewery a few miles up the road. Our server was friendly and helpful.

I had a delicious brisket sandwich while Janet’s chicken-salad sandwich was also a winner.  Yachats did a great job observing preventive and cautionary COVID measures so we were buoyed, so to speak, by the fact that this coastal brewery appeared to be thriving during these challenging times.

It was a wonderful day and we realized how fortunate we are to be able to have a day like this and will continue our prayers and support for those who are struggling with the pandemic.

A Quick Watering Hole Update

Bars, breweries and restaurants are some of the hardest hit businesses during the pandemic and I was saddened to see that Bailey’s Tap Room and it’s upstairs annex, the Upper Lip – reviewed in the early days of Thebeerchaser – closed permanently.  

Bailey’s featured twenty-four rotating taps of great microbrews and was a repeat recipient of Draft Magazine’s 100 Best Beer Bars in America.

I won’t go into all of the closures in Portland but to give you an idea of the breadth of this economic downtown for the hospitality industry, other shut-downs include Back Pedal Brewing  on NW Flanders, Grixen Brewery – a SE Portland brewery established in 2013 which was:

 “….one of the area’s most striking brewpubs with open-beam high ceilings and old-growth timber repurposed into table tops and other accents.  Modern-industrial custom metalworks graced the space, with rolling bar-table frames and a 600-pound lighting trust above the length of the bar.” (Oregonian, 8/19/20) 

We visited Grixen early this year as my neighbor was one of the three owners, but I didn’t have the chance to write a Beerchaser review.)

Another innovative brewery – Base Camp – which is owned by Justin Fay, a graduate of the Oregon State University Fermentation Science Program and opened in 2012 by some Klamath Falls friends, shut down its Buckman Neighborhood brewery:

“The taproom with its spacious outdoor areas, fire-pit and food-cart pod, was a popular spot for years, attracting neighborhood regulars and drawing from Portland’s beer tourism as the scene exploded around it, all while spreading the outdoor life mantra.” (Oregonian 8/19/20)

Even some of the stalwarts of the Oregon Craft Industry are having to revamp their operations to cut operating costs because of reduced patronage.  For example, Rogue Brewing shut its public house in the Pearl District in September after 20 years (Willamette Week) although its two other Portland locations will remain open.

The BeerMongers

With the closures above, I was heartened to see that another early destination when I started Beerchasing – The BeerMongers – celebrated its tenth anniversary last year. 

I went to this eastside bottle shop and taproom with former Portland Mayor Sam Adams, in 2014 right after he assumed the Executive Director position of the City Club of Portland.cxcvx

The BeerMongers  is “known for its artfully curated selection of beers, being named the Best Beer Bar in Oregon by Craftbeer.com in 2018.”  (Oregonian 8/30/19)  The owner of Porto Bello, the pizzeria – a vegan trattoria in the same building as the bar in between BeerMongers and a tattoo parlor next door – came over to our table and said:

“Sam Adams, we really miss you.  I want to buy you guys a pizza!” 

Sam Adams and Porto Bello owner

She came back ten minutes later with a delicious complimentary pizza which meshed perfectly with the pints we drank. 

Unfortunately, it appears that Porto Bello wasn’t still around to celebrate with its neighbor in 2019.

The Monks’ Legacy Continues

Some of you know that I was involved as a volunteer in the planning of the Benedictine Brewery and St. Michael’s Taproom, which opened in the fall of 2018 on land owned by the Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary in the rural area east of Salem. 

The community effort in erecting the structure in late 2017 is a wonderful story (check out the videos in the post below) and it’s one of only three breweries in the US owned and operated by Benedictine Monks.   https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/11/21/the-benedictine-brewery-beam-me-up/

A skilled brewer – Father Martin Grassel

And former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Fr. Martin Grassel, the Manager and Head Brewer reported that the first year of operations was a great success.  He brewed 118 barrels with sales that greatly exceed expectations that year.

When the pandemic hit in March and with the lockdown, only take-out sales were allowed for ten weeks in 2020, but since reopening,  the Brewery continues to thrive with August being the highest month of sales since opening in 2018.

My wife and I can confirm that the Taproom was very cognizant of COVID measures and has an expansive patio area which allows social distancing.   The Taproom will soon have a permanent heated pavilion tent above it during winter months.  

And the best part of was taking the short hike up to the Abbey Hilltop and strolling around the  campus with outstanding views.  The beautiful chapel has also reopened.

While the ambiance and the scenery is a real draw, the key is Fr. Martin’s growing skill as a brewer.

With over ten beers now on tap, this former software engineer has drawn rave reviews for the quality and taste of his brews with the St. Michael’s Helles being the most popular although the flagship Black Habit is also a favorite.

And take a look at the charcuterie plate that you can enjoy while drinking one of Fr. Martin’s beers.

Survival of the Fittest?

Speaking of the pandemic, there’s nothing remotely funny about this global tragedy, but maybe it helps a little to try to look on the light side when one can – for example, this post from one of my favorite dive bars.

Darwin’s Theory is in downtown Anchorage and owned by a fellow Oregon State University alumnus.  This “story” was in it’s latest newsletter.

Darwin wrote: “We were in the 11th day of self quarantine.  As I saw my wife quietly standing in front of the living room window staring off into space with tears running down her face, it was breaking my heart.  I was trying to think of some way to cheer her up.  In fact, I almost considered letting her inside, but rules are rules!”

Maybe he named his bar Darwin’s Theory because of his adherence to the concept “Survival of the Fittest”.

“Dough nut” Follow This Example!

In a previous Beerchaser post where I cover the legal profession and how I enjoyed working with lawyers for over thirty-five years, I mentioned some bizarre cases.  Some of the most recently appreciated essential workers have been emergency responders although this 2001 incident reported by MyPlainview.com addresses an incident some years ago. 

The incident precipitating the lawsuit was bizarre:

“An ambulance driver was fired after being accused of stopping for doughnuts while taking a patient to the hospital….The incident occurred while (he) was taking a boy to the hospital with a leg injury.  The injury was not life threatening.  The boy’s mother filed a complaint.”

“Eat one whenever you want”…Not!”

But perhaps more bizarre was the fact that the driver then filed suit against the City of Houston for intentional infliction of emotional distress and racial discrimination. 

While initially a judge rejected the City’s effort to have the case dismissed and ordered the plaintiff to amend his lawsuit, all of the claims were ultimately dismissed in July 2002. (I’ve been saving that one up for a long time….)

Cheers and Stay Safe!

 

Montana Bars – The Continuing Saga – Kalispell

Since I started recounting my adventures on our 2019 Montana (and more…..) road trip – 3,700 miles in fifteen days – in the last two blog posts, I’m on a roll of sorts.  So I’ll tell you about a few more of the 29 I hit in the six days I drove solo before I picked up my wife in Billings, for the remaining nine days of our trip.

The Blue Moon’s bar – plenty of room for bellying up…

In my last post –  “Two Montana Classics,” I told you about the Bulldog Saloon in Whitefish and the Blue Moon Saloon in Columbus Falls.

The Antler Saloon

And before that in “Pondering the Pandemic – No. 1”, it was the Saw Mill Saloon in Darby, the Wise River Club in Wise River, the Antler Saloon in Wisdom and the Dewey Bar – also in Wisdom.

All of these had great people – bartenders and regulars, great historic ambiance and the “watering hole character” which the forward to author, Joan Melcher’s first book Watering Holes – A User’s Guide to Montana Bars:sums up:

“…..the role of the western saloon remains what it has always been.  As an institution of importance it has always had its detractors — indeed it has always been been venomously attacked by the pious and the righteous. 

The attacks have never really mattered to the  keepers of the institutions nor to the patrons.  The western saloon is simply too important a social, economic and political instrument of western society to be turned aside from its predestined course.” 

(K. Ross Toole – Hammond Professor of History, University of Montana) 

Although the bars discussed below are not historic, they still fit that mold.  And Moose’s Saloon is another shining example of Montana culture – this time as part of the bustling city of Kalispell.

Moose’s Saloon

I rolled in late on a Sunday afternoon after driving from Yaak with stops in Whitefish and Columbus Falls – only about 125 miles and through beautiful Big Sky scenery.

I checked into the historic Kalispell Grand Hotel right in the center of town.  It dates back to 1912 – the bars aren’t the only vestibules of frontier history – and it still has an outstanding old-fashioned elevator and a pipe organ in the lobby.

The lobby of the Grand Kalispell

Then a dinner – only a few blocks away – in a former blacksmith shop – now called The Forge which houses the Desoto Grill and a superb barbecued rib dinner.

Then I moved onto Moose’s Saloon on Main Street and the west end of town.  Since it was a Sunday evening, I expected somewhat of a staid environment – not what Joan Melcher described on most other nights:

“The first time I described Moose’s Saloon, I said walking into it was ‘like opening the door to an eighth grade study hall….Both times I drop by during the summer of 2008, the place is wild.”

Moose’s is not real impressive on the outside – kind of a tacky wooden false front – and the building doesn’t seem to be historic – evidently it was called the Corral Bar before it was transformed to Moose’s in 1957 by a guy who played tackle for the Montana Grizzly Football Team.

Moose and his wife built a thriving establishment and never looked back. (He died in 1999 and it’s now owned by his daughter according to my friendly bartender, Frank.)

Friendly Frank

Frank is from Pittsburgh and has worked there eight years although he called himself “the new boy” compared to the tenures of his co-wokers.

But Frank gives a great rundown of the 24 beers on tap.  I was inclined to get an MGD on tap, but thought “Dirt, (That’s me as you can see from the header at the top of the screen.) this is Montana,” so I had a pint of Moose Drool from Big Sky Brewing.

Although the room adjacent to the space housing the large rectangular bar, filled with big wooden booths and picnic tables, was hopping, the bar had only a few people seated.  That changed quickly and by the time I finished my mug, it was pretty much filled.  Moose’s has a lot of ongoing events and specials which draw customers as you can see by this sign. 

I had a great conversation with a guy and his wife who drove their RV out from the east coast for a conference in Great Falls. Since meeting new people is one of the joys of Beerchasing, I soon found out that the guy’s name was Huck, the conference was the Beer Now Conference and his avocation is of all things – a blog called “Huck’s Beer Buzz.”

What’s that you ask – as did Thebeerchaser!  It’s summed up in the home page of his blog and as you might suspect, Dirt and Huck had a fairly robust conversation about our favorite topic – bars and beers!

“Huck hails from Blacksburg Virginia in the Roanoke Valley. With the help of “Huckette,” his lovely wife, Huck writes about craft beer and various related topics.

Huck travels for work in his ‘real’ job which allows him to travel and sample beer at various locales. Huck  tries to document the places so that others can find the good places and be forewarned about the bad!”

Huck and The Huckette

We traded cards and then went on our separate ways.

Moose is known for it’s great pizza and I was almost sorry that I had eaten (although I still had some ribs in the mini-fridge in my hotel room that I would gobble down the next day – or maybe when I got back that night since Janet wasn’t with me…..)

The pizzas were flying and everybody at the bar was consuming loads of unshelled peanuts – a gob of them for only $1.50 – many of which landed on the sawdust floor. (They’re in the plastic bag in the photo below.)

While Joan’s recommendation was enough for me, if in doubt, check out the comments on social media, almost all of which mention the great quality of the pizza:

“If you like an old fashioned country atmosphere, then this place is for you! Sawdust on the floor, beer flowing, and country music accompany the best pizza in town! Don’t miss out on this if you are visiting the Kalispell area. (Trip Advisor, November 24, 2019)

And they also usually mention the atmosphere like this one:
“Just what the title says! This is probably the most unique place in Northwest Montana! EXCELLENT pizza!”  (Trip Advisor , January 1 , 2020)

The VFW Bar 

I had seen that in Montana a number of the VFW Posts open their bars to the public and curiosity got the better of me as I was leaving Kalispell late the next morning, so I stopped in at one – again only a few blocks from the hotel and on 1st Street.   It was the Glacier Park Chapter.

It would be just a nice place to grab a beer, play some pool or have a card game and interact with some wonderful people, most of whom were veterans who had served their country.  I sat at the end of a long bar and talked to a grizzled regular former Army guy who talked about the good old days in Kalispell:

“There were thirteen bars within several blocks on Main Street.  We had a Friday night ritual – we’d start with a shot of Galliano (43.2% ABV!) and then start having a beer at each bar to see how many we could get before one guy would pass out.”

The bartender, a veteran, was friendly and when I told him about my blog he introduced me to Jonathan who was an officer in the Chapter and had recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan where he was an electronic aviation technician.   He and the bartender let me tour the Chapter museum which was in a spacious locked room adjacent to the bar.  It was interesting and humbling to see the magnitude of the military service of the members.

Del’s Bar in Somers Montana

After the great visit at the VFW, I drove about ten miles and stopped at Somers – on the north shore of Flathead Lake.   There was one more bar – not anything historic, but the reviews made it look like it was an interesting community bar — and it was.

Del’s Bar from the outside, would not pique your imagination or make one inclined to explore further, but I’m Thebeerchaser.

At 11:00 AM on a Monday morning, however, it was just the young female bartender, Kylee and a nice guy named Tom who was a painting contractor who was a Montana State grad in the place.

Now Del’s is spacious inside besides having a nice sized bar and it appeared to be a community-oriented watering hole which is a cherished spots for the regulars, who come for Bingo Night every Wednesday.  But the reactions from some others is somewhat tepid – at least that’s the cursory impression one would get looking at some of the Yelp reviews: https://www.yelp.com/biz/dels-somers

That said, the pizza gets great reviews and I wish I had been there to partake of some of their daily dinner specials such as the Buffalo Stew, which if you look at their Facebook Page is supplemented on other nights with chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy, elk chili, spaghetti with sausage and mini corndogs – enough variety to keep you happy throughout the week, but lead to an early coronary if you are a regular.

Del’s also has a nice patio and a spacious outdoor area which in the months in Montana one can be outside, gets heavy use as you can see from this picture taken on one of their summer Bingo Nights – voted Best in Flathead in 2019:

Bingo Night – check out the reviews on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10157464601228316&set=

And to give you a better idea of the regular vs. tourist opinion to which I earlier alluded, check out the link on the picture above where a tourist commented:

“The woman bartender calling the numbers, used the “F” word all the time on the microphone. Very inappropriate. We won’t be back. Surprised the manager is not saying something to control her language.”

This comment garnered fifteen responses suggesting that they hoped the lady was serious about her threat not to return.  Every comment was along the sentiments below – most with profanity interlaced, including one guy who sarcastically agreed with the lady in a comment that had twelve uses of the F-word in one long paragraph:

“Don’t like it?? You don’t have to come, there’s plenty of other bingo’s to attend! Have at ‘er bud!!!  The bingo caller makes bingo at Dels worth going to. People come hours in advance to get a seat. Welcome to the bar and the best bingo in town.”

I finished my bottle of MGD – the first time during the trip I had a morning beer, but it was Monday……, bade farewell to Kylee and Tom and traveled south along beautiful Flathead Lake where I stopped and had my lunch (the rest of the ribs from the night before) at a picnic table.

Nice picnic spot

Then a drive through Missoula for about 160 miles and three hours to my next night stop in Hamilton – a wonderful Montana community on the west border of the state with great bars and breweries.   Stay tuned for more Beerchasing adventures…..

Cheers

Image by Pam Williams

Two Montana Classics – The Bulldog and the Blue Moon

Yaak River Falls in NW Montana

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the post is not clipped or shortened.)

Unless you have been hiding under a rock since early March, you know that the ability to explore new bars and breweries is either extremely limited or in many locations, non-existent.  Thus, Thebeerchaser, in a fit of maudlin retrospective, has harkened back to past trips to Montana (2004, 2016 and last summer) and the wonderful scenery and historic watering holes of the Big Sky State.

In a recent blog post, I remembered the great adventure we had last June when Janet and I embarked on a fifteen-day road trip through Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming before we returned to Oregon.  We visited 49 great establishments in addition to our adventures in several memorable National Parks and Monuments we encountered on the 3,700 mile journey.

Mt Rushmore – still with the original four…..

In the above post, I mentioned five bars – all in Montana which were my favorites and I want to continue the story on others since I didn’t write these up right after the trip.

Bernie – bartender at the
Antler Saloon in Wisdom

https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/08/24/pondering-the-panemic-no-2/j   All five have robust histories and great character as evident in the picture above.

Now one might wonder, “Why focus on Montana?”  I’ve visited almost 400 bars and breweries in the last nine years since commencing my Beerchasing exploits – 125 in Portland, Oregon and the others throughout Oregon, various regions of the US and even a couple in Europe – talk about memorable!!

Sheriff Plummer – a man of controversy

Well, perhaps I can answer that with a description from my most recent book:

Hanging the Sheriff – A Biography of Henry Plummer – a fascinating book about an iconic Montana ghost-town that I visited while on a sabbatical from my former law firm in  2004 road trip.

I spent about seven hours touring Bannack – including Hangman’s Gulch where Sheriff Plummer came to his untimely demise, and the cemetery in this photo I took.  Men – both innocent and guilty were summarily tried, immediately hanged by the vigilantes, and left to “swing” so they could be a graphic example to others before they were laid to rest.

The book describes one notable saloon in “downtown” Bannack:

“…..the important role played by the saloons:  They occupied a ‘large space in the social and public life of the camps to which nearly everyone was driven….’ Most were ‘hospitable, conducted by well-behaved attendants or proprietors, only a few of them contented to be known as bad.’

Of the ‘bad’ saloons, the one guaranteeing the most action was the Elkhorn, so named because of the pair of huge antlers the owner, Cyrus Skinner had purchased and tacked over the front door.   Inside was a long, polished, dark wood bar, a few card tables and attached to one wall, two rows of bunks with grass-stuffed mattresses, usually occupied by customers.”

The Montana Bar – present day in Miles City

Indeed, besides the mattresses, the narrative above could describe a majority of the bars I visited on my trips to Montana as evidenced by this picture of the Montana Bar in Miles City which has been serving beer since 1908.

And while I love Oregon, Montana will continue to lure me back.  I contemplated showing you a few stanzas of the Montana state song to convey that allure, but they are really boring.  So I decided to illustrate with the song written by my new friend, Geoff, and to which I and several others were serenaded at the Yaak River Tavern after I bought him a beer on my trip last summer.  (Besides, every song about the Big Sky State should also have the word “banana” in it.)

(I asked the bartender to credit his tab and let him collect the next day as he didn’t need another beer that evening……)

 The Bulldog and the Blue Moon – Two Great Watering Holes 

In the interest of brevity, I’ll only touch on two additional bars and save others for future posts.   The Bulldog Saloon in Whitefish and the Blue Moon Saloon in Columbus Falls, right outside Kalispell.

I didn’t stay in Whitefish – just passed through on Highway 93 on a Sunday afternoon in between nights at Yaak River Lodge and the historic Grand Hotel in Kalispell, both of which I strongly recommend.

Author, Joan Melcher’s second book – Montana Watering Holes  describes the Bulldog Saloon as:

“Sometimes there’s nothing better than a surprise.  And the Bulldog is that…..A step in the door and you know you’re in a world unto itself.  The walls and ceilings are black, providing a sharp relief to the hundreds of decoupage photos mounted on primal colors of wood and varnished to a glow…..School pennants hang from black ceiling tiles”

(I immediately noticed the Oregon State banner in one section of the ceiling – also occupied by the LA Dodgers and the SF Giants, the Hamilton Mont. High School Broncs and the Marquette University Golden Eagles…)

And I had a feeling of ambivalence as I drank a bottled Miller’s and talked in the dark environs of the saloon to the great young bartender – a college student on summer break from Montana State .

He filled me in on the bar’s history and told me about recent visits from sports stars, Stephen Curry, who owns a place on nearby Flathead Lake and his brother, Seth – also Jerry Rice and NBA star, Kevin Durant, who stopped in while vacationing.

Why the contradictory perceptions? Well in Portland, aside from Claudia’s Sports Pub and Grill – I reviewed in 2012 and was opened in 1959, none of the sports bars are historic. The Bulldog, is on the ground floor of a 1903 building, which housed doctors’ offices on the second floor, but a pool hall – the Pastime thrived on the first floor.

“In addition to pool, the Pastime was the place to go for card games such as poker, pinochle and pan. During the prohibition era, the Pastime survived selling everything from guns, fishing tackle, batteries, and work gloves, to tobacco and cigars. There was even a soda fountain for teenagers located in the basement during a short period following World War II.”

Named after Whitefish HS mascot

It eventually became The Bulldog Saloon in 1983, when the owners, Buck and Linda May, opened it and named the bar after the Whitefish High School mascot.

Most sports bars, I’ve visited in almost ten years of Beerchasing are not family-type bars, but that’s not true of the Bulldog.   That said, there’s a slight dissonance, because both the men’s and women’s heads, have semi and fully nude photos from magazines decorating the walls along with additional sports memorabilia.

A small section of mens’ restroom photos

For example, on the photo at the right, you can see the Penthouse Pet of the Month’s photo right above an autographed photo of former New York Met pitching star, Ron Taylor (1967-71) thanking the Bulldog for its hospitality.

And aside from that, it’s pretty typical – scads of big screen TVs, video poker, local team photos, signed jerseys and memorabilia from college and pro sports stars.

But my favorite part and a lasting image of the Bulldog Saloon was ensconced in my memory as I was leaving the men’s head — the life-size, smiling visage of a younger, Boston Celtic great, Kevin McHale holding 60% of a basketball in his left hand and a full can of Miller Lite – only 96 calories and 4.2 ABV – in his right.  He was rumored to favor the beer because it tasted great rather than being less filling….

The Blue Moon Saloon

After reading Joan Melcher’s effusive reviews in both her books about the history and the memorable owners, Dick and Charlotte Sapa, I absolutely had to stop at the Blue Moon – less than 25 minutes outside of Kalispell in an expansive building.  Maybe that’s because the bar is over sixty feet long – one of the longest in the north western states.

Over 60 feet long

There’s also a big dance floor and multiple glass-covered exhibits which house the largest display of taxidermy I saw on my trip.  And as you will see from the picture shown below, they weren’t just native Montana species such as grizzly bear, moose, elk and antelope and the biggest big horn sheep brought down in Montana.   That’s a polar bear which they bagged in northern Ontario, Canada.

When I walked in, sat down at the middle of the (very long) bar – which had a stuffed alligator hanging from the backbar – and ordered a beer,  I asked the bartender if the Sapas still were the owners.

She nodded and pointed to her right and said, “That’s them sitting down at the end of the bar.”  I took advantage, moved to the end of the bar and began an extended conversation with this amazing couple who were not hesitant to regale me with stories.

The Sapas opened the bar in 1947 and have owned it since.   They were very friendly and among the questions I asked was whether the story about the cowboy patron who showed up shortly after the bar opened  was true.  They knew which one I meant!

As Joan Melcher relates:

“A young man was bragging about the horse he just acquired.  He told Charlotte, he wanted to bring the horse over to show it off…..Sure enough, the guy goes and gets the horse and rides it into the bar.

He orders a ditch (a small glass filled with some ice and 2 oz. of whiskey and 2 oz. of water) for himself and a gin and tonic for horse. (Charlotte explains that they are supposed to like gin.)”   

Dick and Charlotte

But as Charlotte explained to me while laughing, the story doesn’t end there:

“The cowboy rode right in front of the middle of the bar and his horse took a big dump!   We spread saw dust on it until we could fully clean it up after the bar closed.”  

What made the story even funnier was that while Charlotte was relating it, the song on the jukebox happened to be “Wildfire” by Michael Martin Murphy, about another pony, but this one in Nebraska.  I still thought it was a funny coincidence….

Charlotte told me about their family and Dick talked about the rodeo they have at the adjacent arena which draws big crowds and professional riders every weekend during the summer. 

Their son, Bill, who was drafted by the New York Yankees came in with his son – they were still tired after branding cattle on their 200 acre farm the day before.

After we talked awhile, he offered to take me up to the fabled upper rooms – “an honor not many outsiders get” .  You walk behind the bar to almost a hidden door and then a stairway to the second floor – several rooms are completely filled with additional trophies from their big game hunts in Montana and all over the world

Bill Sapas – son of Charlotte and Dick

The Sapas are wonderful people – typical of the owners and regulars I met during the solo part of my trip, and later Janet and I encountered throughout the remainder.  I could have stayed there and talked for several more hours but the dinner special at Moose’s Saloon in Kalispell beckoned.

Nevertheless, if you take a road trip to Montana, stop at the Blue Moon Saloon.  It’s a rather non-descript building on the outside, but oozes character once you walk in and is a great example of why I have such an affinity for the bars in this beautiful state.

 

 

 

2020 Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter Update

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Well Beerchasers, I’m still waiting to get back to reviewing bars and breweries, but since that is on hold, I’m trying to provide some other insights.  My next post will be on a number of Montana watering holes that I visited last summer.  Due to the number visited (49) on a 15-day road trip, I’ve only written up several so far.   So stay tuned for some good history on Montana bars.

Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter – Update

The Dude on his Mount Everest summit climb in 2012

Two of the past Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, Craig-the Dude- Hanneman and Steve Lawrence should be recognized again for recent achievements and accolades.

Steve Lawrence

While that may be hard to understand given their past exploits, it’s true.

Jan and Jack at their home in Sisters, Oregon

So far, there are three BOQ’s in 2020, including a married couple – Jack and Jan McGowan who were co-recipients in February, for their outstanding and long-term commitment to SOLV (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism) from the ’90’s until their retirement in 2008.

Former Oregon State Beaver football wingback and receiver Billy Main, a member of the legendary 1967 Giant Killers Team, was named in May.

It took Thebeerchaser two posts to fully cover his football and Navy ROTC stories while in college and then his successful hospitality industry career.

And the most recent BOQ label was for a groupLawyers.  That’s right – I relate my observations after working with them for forty years in three different organizations – the last twenty-five at a great law firm of 140 lawyers – Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt – where I retired in 2011.

I respect the members of this profession and enjoyed the interaction with this talented and competitive group. In future posts, I’ll continue this narrative as I have a great number of stories that I find very entertaining and think you might also.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/08/31/beerchasers-of-the-quarter-lawyers-part-1/

Update on Previous BOQ “Honorees”

Craig “The Dude” Hanneman

Transitioned from fullback to defensive tackle

My SAE fraternity brother at Oregon State who graduated in 1971, was a Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in 2012.   This former high school fullback who transitioned to defensive tackle at OSU, was voted captain and MVP of the Beaver team his senior year and named a Second-Team All-American and First-Team Pac-8 Team

He then played for four seasons in the NFL including two years for the Pittsburgh Steelers and two for the Patriots, when a catastrophic leg injury ended his NFL career.

After a successful career in the timber industry and local politics, Craig is now retired but when he was about 50, he either ignored or confirmed the assertion of singer, David Lee Roth:

“I guarantee you will find no reasonable man on top of big mountains.” 

Fellow Everest climbers, Mike and Heidi with Craig

He started mountain climbing in the late ’90’s, and in 2012, became the first former NFL or NBA player to successfully summit Mt. EverestKerry Eggers, who has been named Oregon Sportswriter of the Year six times, wrote two wonderful articles on Crag’s story in the Portland Tribune in 2019.  https://pamplinmedia.com/pt/12-sports/446236-359995-mountaineer-craig-hanneman-takes-on-als

The next year (2013) Dude and four of his friends Ran with the Bulls in Pamplona (Below left to right Hanneman, Scott Freeburn, Mark Dippel, Jim Sherbert and Bob Jossis.)

Pamplona in 2013

But his sense of adventure was not stifled and even with significant injuries sustained when he fell into a crevasse and was buried in the snow for forty-five minutes before rescue on Mt. Jefferson in 2013, climbing continued.  In 2019 at age 70, he became one of only about 500 people in the world and probably the oldest of those, to have completed The Seven Summits – the highest mountain on each continent.

Oregon Sports Hall of Fame – To the surprise of no one who has followed athletics in Oregon, he was named to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in August this year.  He will be formally inducted into the Multi-Sports category i.e. Football and Mountain Climbing.  This supplements his prior admission to the Oregon State University Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.

Besides Price’s Tavern in Corvallis during college days, Craig and our SAE brothers have been on many Beerchasing expeditions together in recent years including several at the Gemini Pub in Lake Oswego.

The Dude and I did a toast recently to retired Professor Dr. Edward G. McGrath, who died in March 2019 at the age of 101 in California.

In 1970, Dr. McGrath had an upper-division political science seminar in which Craig and teammate, Mark Dippel, a starting guard on the OSU Football Team and I, joined about seven other students.

Cheers to Ed!

The Dude, “Dip” and I sat in the first of two short rows and to the good professor’s astonishment, those two would chew tobacco while he lectured.

Professor McGrath, who was my advisor, always glared at me (rather than the two big lineman) because I walked into class with the “chewers” and they were about twice as big as he was.

At least he appreciated the fact that they used a pot-pie tin for the residue……..We laughed that he reached that ripe old age before passing – I was always convinced that he was going to have a heart attack during those classes.

Congratulations to Craig Hanneman.  He is without question one of the most outstanding human beings Thebeerchaser has had the privilege of meeting even with his somewhat morbid fascination with the word “ubiquitous” and Dean Martin tunes which I had to endure in college.  He is a man of great character, family values and humility.

Steve Lawrence – Lawyer, Mayor and Author

This 2014 Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter has also had several careers.  After college, he distinguished himself for his service as an Army officer in Viet Nam where he commanded an infantry platoon. 

The Bronze Star with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster and the Silver Star

He was subsequently awarded two Bronze Stars and a Silver Star in 1968 and 1969 for heroism during enemy action. (To  see the wording on the citations, click on the link above.)

After graduating from law school and passing the Oregon State Bar exam in 1978, he had a long career as a successful lawyer in private practice before retiring to his home town – The Dalles on the Columbia River.

Lt. Lawrence at ease

Steve graduated from high school in the ’60’s and married his high school sweetheart, Donna but not until 2008!   It’s an interesting story set forth in Thebeerchaser post you can see through the link above.

His next “career” was one of notable public service and little compensation.  Steve served as Mayor of The Dalles for two terms from 2012 to 2018.  The picture below is when Jud Blakely – another former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter and also a Bronze Star winner for action in Viet Nam (along with receiving two Purple Hearts) and I joined him to visit some watering holes in The Dalles while Steve was successfully running a mayoral re-election campaign in 2015.

Blakely on the right, points to the incumbent….

Steve’s insight and actions promoting economic development in The Dalles were notable.  He also served for twenty-five years on the Board of United Cerebral Palsy of Oregon and SW Washington including three terms as President.

But this man of many talents demonstrated those again.  He added “novelist” to the list in 2013 with the publication of his first book –  First Light – A Novel of Close Combat in Viet Nam  – that was forty-four years after he returned from Vietnam.

“Based on my own experience and notes kept in a journal, it literally took 44 years for me to know what I wanted to write. Over the years, I would write about singular events, put the writing into its own folder and stack it with others in my file cabinet. When I retired at age 62, determined to write, I gathered all those folders and finished the book.”

Steve was not done writing, however, and early this summer, he published a sequel entitled Amotan Field, which is now available at Amazon.

As Steve stated, in part:

After First Light, I wanted to write a novel about a skeleton that was unearthed in The Dalles, Oregon by a sewer construction crew. Considering many possible stories, it occurred to me this was an opportunity to answer the question asked; what happened after First Light…..

The story is intended to be a story of redemption. Redemption for a returning soldier dealing with the aftermath of combat. Redemption for a WWII soldier who was denied a medal because the truth of his bravery was buried by a terrible accident. He was killed by friendly fire. He was a member of the Celilo/Wyam tribe.

The backstory of Amotan Field is the history of the Indian community, which had lived and thrived along the Columbia River for thousands of years, shoved aside in the 1850’s by pioneers, missionaries and the military, promises made and broken and complicit racism which has continued.”

Will be ready to raise a mug….

So check out both of the Mayor’s books and if you get up to The Dalles, invite him to have a beer.  He knows some good establishments in his city and had a role in getting many of them up and running. (He might even buy your pint for coming to his city!)

The Next Honoree…

Followers of this blog will enjoy the story of my next Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter. 

Fr. Martin

In 2017, I told the story of Fr. Martin Grassel.  He’s a monk at the Mount Angel Abbey who also happens to be the Head Brewer at the wonderful Benedictine Brewery – one of three in the US owned and operated by Benedictine Monks.

And I will soon share the fascinating journey of another man of the cloth.

I have only known Fr. Chuck Wood for about eighteen months since I have had the pleasure of serving on the Abbey Foundation of Oregon Board with him

Fr. Chuck Wood

After studying at Mount Angel Seminary, Fr. Chuck went on to get his Master’s at the University of Notre Dame.  He is now the Pastor at St. Wencelaus Parish in Scapoose, Oregon and has a wonderful sense of humor and warm personality.  His story will captivate you.  Stay tuned.

 

Cheers!

 

 

Beerchasers of the Quarter – Lawyers – Part 1

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WHY LAWYERS?

Each quarter Thebeerchaser names an individual or group that may or may not have anything to do with beer or bars, but in my humble opinion, has made a contribution to society and have an interesting story to tell.

The 1967 Giant Killers – worthy of merit!

Very few of the “honorees” have been groups, but the few named are deserving.  For example, the 1967 Oregon State Giant Killer Football Team and the Crew of the USS Constitution for their 1798-99 war cruise.

Old Ironsides

Both showed teamwork resulting in outstanding accomplishments. (Click on the links above to see these posts.)

So why would I name lawyers?   While most people really like their own lawyer, the group as a whole, seldom receives accolades and is often subject to stero-typical and often pejorative labels.

As is true in any profession, I know that a number of the attorneys in the US are egotistical jerks, flaunt the ethics of the profession and would not be good drinking companions.  That said, my 40+ years working with lawyers in three different organizations were rewarding and an opportunity to interact  with ethical, smart, dedicated advocates who have amazing work ethics and elevated senses of humor (as I think you will see in this and following posts).

Did I encounter some that tipped the asshole scale heavily?  DA!  But they will not be named in my narratives and were a notable exception.

As background, I spent the majority  (25 years – from 1985 to 2010) in the same law firm Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt – the last twelve as the Chief Operating Officer.

Herding Cats Wine – a retirement gift from the firm in 2011

I couldn’t have picked a firm with a better culture  and outstanding colleagues ranging from support staff to secretaries,  to paralegals to managers to attorneys – both associates and partners.  It was a transparent and a team-oriented environment – not the case in some firms of similar size.  I often described my job as communicating orally and in writing with skilled professionals who made their living attacking and analyzing what other people say and write.

When I retired from Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt (SWW) in mid-2010, it had about 140 lawyers and about 150 additional personnel  in five Northwest offices including its anchor office in Portland, Oregon .  SWW, for many years, was in the top 50 large employers in the State in the annual survey of good places to work as rated by employees and tabulated by The Oregonian.

But before I present some evidence backing up my positive comments about both attorneys and the SWW  firm culture, let me try to describe my version of the lawyer personality while reminding those who look askance upon the profession as a whole, of Charles Dickens’ observation:

“If there were not bad people, there would be no good lawyers.”

Where competition is at the zenith

Competitive –This trait is not only for litigators where it is a dominant gene, but most lawyers based on the functions of their jobs and how they are evaluated.

Perhaps my favorite example is the Wall Street lawyer some years ago who flew from JFK in New York City to LA International and billed time during the flight so he could set a record for his firm for billing over 24 hours in a single day!

In law firms where statistics play a major – and unfortunately, sometimes the only – criteria for compensation and promotion, it’s natural that there is internal competition for future raises and year-end bonuses – a standard practice in most law firms.

Professional Courtesy??  Eat-what-you-Kill does not promote teamwork…!

However, some firms have an “eat what you kill” system based totally on the income each timekeeper collects which heightens the intra-firm rivalry.  Let’s look at a quote from the protagonist in John Grisham’s novel, The Street Lawyer

“All right. I admit it – those decreases each year hurt my feelings.  Money’s the big scorecard in this kind of life; there’s no winning percentage, no runs batted in.  It’s always struck me as meaningful how we refer to the percentage of firm income we’re awarded as ‘points.’

Your partners tell you each year what they think you’re worth.  By now, I can live without everything the marginal dollar buys except for the self-esteem.”

At SWW, the compensation system was “open” i.e. lawyers knew what their colleagues made and received in bonuses.  And each month-end everyone saw the various statistics – hours worked and billed plus amount collected.   Compensation at SWW, was both objective – stats based – but also subjective – factors including marketing, firm leadership and activities, and mentoring.  This mitigated the internal competition.   And when I say “internal competition” – that not only references within the firm, but inside the lawyer’s own head.

Love of the Language – Regardless of the practice specialty, a lawyer must have an elevated grasp of the nuances of the language and pay attention to detail.  While some  contemporary legal communication is less formal, it was always interesting when terms such as “heretofore,” “therein,” “pursuant,” “to wit” and “thenceforth” were common in pleadings, briefs and even routine correspondence.

Now while some would suggest this formal written and oral discourse was stilted, it provided a certain eloquence and grace for those involved.  Take, for example, this paragraph from a lawsuit filed after the Octoberfest Celebration Mount Angel Oregon – known, not only for great German sausage and singing which makes even karaoke sound pretty good, but voluminous consumption of Thebeerchaser’s favorite beverage.

The Octoberfest

Annual celebration highlighting beer, sausage and “interaction.”

In this lawsuit in the early ‘90’s, a Portland resident filed a $53,220 lawsuit against the Mount Angel Octoberfest claiming the portable toilet he entered was pushed over by unruly patrons.  His lawyer claimed:

“Intimately mixed with the contents thereof….

“Plaintiff was violently thrown about inside said portable toilet, became intimately mixed with the contents thereof and sustained a fracture of his right wrist as well as other contusions and abrasions.”

Unfortunately, I could not determine the result of this lawsuit and assume – just like the contents of the overturned chamber – it settled. 

Thus, a jury never had to contemplate either culpability or damages as a group exercise – one which might have proven to be an odorous task figuratively speaking.

Bad Frog Beer

In a recent post, I related how, in a lapse of judgment lamented by my wife, I attempted to supplement my young daughter’s wonderful and robust frog collection with an empty bottle with the label of Bad Frog Beer I got on a business trip to Chicago.

A wonderful frog collection before Bad Frog Beer idea….

The logo was so popular, the demand for Bad Frog merchandise was massive and Bad Frog Brewing expanded to twenty-five states in 1995.   Because the controversial logo, however, the beer was banned in eight of those states. Legal challenges resulted because of the frog’s none-too-subtle extension of its middle digit.

Liquor commissions in multiple states banned the beer.  Eventually the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the New York State Liquor Authority‘s ban on selling Bad Frog Beer in an interesting and extremely entertaining  First Amendment case, to wit: –  Bad Frog Brewery, Inc. v. New York State Liquor Authority 134 F.3d 87 (1998).

You can read the entire opinion, but my favorite footnote shows another example of the succinct and compelling argument for the ban by citing the Liquor Authority lawyer’s indignant but gentile objection:

“……(The logo) is patently offensive and presumably a suggestion to have intercourse with oneself.”

Note:  Lawyers have traditionally been addressed in correspondence or pleadings as “Esquire” –a label attached to their surname after earning their license to practice, including female lawyers.   This term goes back to the fifteenth century in England referring to the landed gentry or males of higher social rank.

While it may seem cool for a freemason even these days, I’m glad that this practice has largely diminished and is now more of a formality or courtesy except in some states.

This article in Abovethelaw.com entitled ”Get Over Yourself and Stop Calling Yourself Equire,” suggests that the label seems pompous, especially when used to refer to oneself.  And since a lot of plumbers now have higher hourly rates than lawyers, perhaps they should add an honorific to their last names.

Creatively Aggressive – There are numerous examples of this dominant gene in attorneys, but two of my favorites both involved Oregon lawyers.  While not condoning the rationale of the lawyers below, it does serve to illustrate the creativity and eagerness to advocate their position.

Beyond Rational??

Envision, if you will, cruising along Highway 26 through Oregon’s Coast Range following a line of cars behind a motor home on a mountain pass.   A late-model BMW with a single occupant passes the line of cars.

After the summit on level terrain, you pass the BMW which has been pulled over by an Oregon State Trooper.

The driver was a lawyer from a large Portland firm (not Schwabe…) who, in his court appearance, argued against the speeding ticket for going 76 mph in a 55 mph zone.

He stated that he had no idea he was traveling  that fast  – the blame should be placed on the manufacturer for his sedan’s superb handling characteristics.   He supported his contention with a PowerPoint presentation and testimony from a mechanic.

I don’t know if he also tried to use some of BMW’s slogans as further vindication, but maybe he should have considered these actual BMW mottos:

“BMW – Beyond Rational!”

“Motion is our Muse”

Heads-up Display vs Speeding Ticket?   Passion Wins!”

“BMW – More Smiles per Hour”

Well, perhaps the judge was not persuaded because he fined the lawyer $182  admonishing him that he was not only speeding, but ignored the risk of hitting wildlife that frequently cross the road.  It could have been worse.  At least he did not pass a cop chasing a speeder……

Immunity?

Somewhat more brazen was this 2006 incident, described in an Oregonian story, involving a prominent Portland attorney, active in civic activities and then chair of his political party in Oregon.  He also happened to serve as a Senior Assistant Attorney General for the State of Oregon.

Said AAG was westbound in the afternoon on Interstate 84 driving behind a Sheriff Deputy’s marked vehicle.  The deputy was driving 75 mph and noticed a vehicle following him.  Upon increasing his speed to 88 mph with the vehicle still following closely, the deputy cited the driver for speeding.

Culpable??

The errant driver asserted that because he was following the deputy, he wasn’t looking at his speedometer assuming the officer was obeying the speed limit and stated in a letter to the Court:

“I therefore had no basis to know my speed, having simply assumed I was within the limits on the basis of the actions of the officer who subsequently cited me for doing precisely what he was doing.”

Note:  Lawyer Jack Faust, a SWW lawyer who before his retirement (see below) was one of the most respected appellate lawyers in the State, jokingly (I think…) commented to me that the lawyer could have improved his negotiating position if he had made a citizen’s arrest on the deputy for speeding.

I mention later in this post, a lawyerly trait of wanting to have the last word and this is a good example.  Just in case, the judge didn’t buy his initial defense, the lawyer further cited:

“…. a state statute that he said gives him immunity (emphasis added) from prosecution outside of Marion County (in which the State Capital is located) for anything done arising out of his work as a Justice Department Employee.”

In this instance, he was returning from Pendleton in Eastern Oregon to Portland for a meeting on a case he was handling.   Well, not only did the judge not accept this rationale, but neither did the lawyer’s boss.   Attorney General Hardy Myers, through another Deputy AG, suggested that the AAG was not authorized to represent to the Court that his interpretation is that of the AG’s office and further:

“In fact, DOJ disagrees with both of your interpretations of ORS 464.530….The Attorney General does not believe that any part of the state law cited immunizes the department’s employees from prosecution for traffic offenses.”

The offender did get a break in that the citing officer lowered the speed of the violation to 75 mph – a $97 fine instead of the $145 for traveling 88 mph – not because he was an AAG but “since he was cooperative and apologetic.”   The lawyer paid the fine and decided not to further contest the ticket.   With this type of immunity, even a vaccine might not have saved him.

Integrity and Ethics – One can cite numerous instances in the last several years and use an historical perspective dating back to Watergate of high profile attorneys shamelessly, not only flaunting the Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers, but serving prison sentences for violating the criminal codes.

Through my experience with hundreds of lawyers, first working at the Oregon State Bar and then at a private law firm, I witnessed men and women who had immense respect for the Canons governing their behavior and when in doubt, sought  advice to ensure they complied.  And I might add, that the rules regarding conflict of interest in the legal profession are more stringent than those in professions such as Accounting and Real Estate.

During the pandemic, I have used the time freed up from Beerchasing to enhance my knowledge through reading and online resources such as podcasts.   One of the best which reinforces my premise about integrity of the profession is “The Oath” – an exceptional podcast by Washington DC. attorney Chuck Rosenberg.

Rosenberg – A standard worth emulating

His career is the epitome of dedicated public service and integrity as are the subjects of his fascinating interviews in each podcast, many of whom are attorneys who spent a major part of their careers in government service.

These include Maya Wiley, Joyce Vance, Barbara McQuade, Jeremy Bash, and Rob Spencer.  While these are not household names, Chuck interviewing skills are superb and the stories compelling – especially at a time when the Rule of Law is the subject of intense debate.  I strongly recommend that you check out this online series.

Chuck Rosenberg  graduated from Tufts University, received his Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University and then his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1990 – one of the nation’s top law schools.  He then worked in numerous Department of Justice positions, Counsel to the Director of the FBI, Counsel to the Attorney General  and Chief of Staff to the Deputy Attorney General.

After service as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, he later served as Chief of Staff to the Director of the FBI (2013-15).  He was the lead trial lawyer in federal prosecutions involving espionage, kidnapping, murder, crimes against children and complex financial fraud cases. (Wikipedia)  As stated by former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch:

“Throughout his distinguished career in law enforcement and public service, Chuck has earned the trust and the praise of his colleagues at every level.  He has proven himself as an exceptional leader, a skilled problem-solver, and a consummate public servant of unshakable integrity.

And he has demonstrated, time and again, his deep and unwavering commitment not only to the women and men who secure our nation, but to the fundamental values that animate their service.”

While serving as the Acting Drug Enforcement Administrator, he resigned as a matter of principle based on his objection to communication from the White House and was praised by media including the Wall Street Journal for his integrity in taking this action.

Since that time, he has served as a legal analyst in cable news and counsel at a private law firm in Washington DC.

Need to Have the Last Word –  Over my forty years working with lawyers, I learned that one way to garner their respect was to respond emphatically and with confidence in any (or every) kind of debate whether it was in conversation or electronically.

I learned, however, that even if I prevailed in substance, I should expect, and to some extent, encourage the lawyer to have the last word.  It was a good method to save further time deliberating and allow a win–win result.

My favorite example occurred with one of SWW’s very good lawyers from our Vancouver Office who was on his sabbatical in Italy with his wife.  This counselor  was very active in professional and civic activities and served on the Washington State Board of Governors.

He and his wife were walking up to the entrance of an exclusive restaurant – we’ll say it was in Rome – and out comes a group of several people led by a distinguished looking gentleman in an impeccably-tailored  suit.  Obviously, I wasn’t a witness, but I was told that the conversation went essentially like this as he and his wife passed the group and he addressed the guy in the lead:

Lawyer Hi. I know I’ve seen you before.  Are you from the Pacific Northwest?

Stranger No.

LawyerWow!  I know I’ve seen you before.   Are you involved with the Vancouver, Washington Chamber of Commerce?

Stranger No.

Lawyer:  This is just puzzling to me because I’m positive I’ve seen you before.   Did you have any  dealings with the Washington State Bar Association?

I’m Tony Bennett!

Stranger:  No……. I’m Tony Bennett 

LawyerOh my God.  You’re right!! (emphasis added)

Did NOT leave his heart in Vancouver, Washington

 

 

 

 

A Firm Foundation Built on a Great Culture

I’ll show you numerous examples in future Beerchaser posts, but I believe that Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt has an outstanding, and possibly unique, culture in which a robust organizational sense of humor was a hallmark.  This is not to suggest, however, that SWW lawyers were cavalier and didn’t regard their work very seriously.

SWW lawyers work on matters in every legal practice area except criminal law and domestic relations.   The transactions in real estate, business and corporate law, tax and real estate involve substantial amounts and high stakes issues.   The outcome of litigation ranging from medical malpractice to product liability, admiralty to patent issues has a profound impact on personal lives and the future of businesses ranging from small enterprises to huge corporations.

But the enhanced camaraderie and light-hearted jousting just made it a better place to work.  And it was not just one group of professionals.  The jovial atmosphere, although subtle, was evident through all job classifications and demographics in a diverse organization.

New lawyers have amazing academic credentials and life experiences, but they learn not to take themselves too seriously and those that succeed see that besides putting in often unreasonable working hours, availing themselves of continuing legal education and promoting the SWW client service ethic, they’ll have a more enjoyable tenure at the firm if they adapt to this culture.

In closing, I demonstrate how Senior Partners, set an example.   Below are some of the hundreds of anecdotes residing in my files that deserve to be shared and I will relate in future blog posts.

A Faustian Tale

As mentioned above, Jack Faust had a sterling reputation as an Oregon appellate lawyer after remarkable law school years in which he served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Oregon Law School Law Review and received the Order of the Coif – the highest honor for law students.

Jack also had a second career where he made his mark in broadcasting.  For many years while still having a busy law practice, he was the moderator of a public affairs program – Town Hall.   It received many honors including those from UPI and the National Association of Television Program Executives for Outstanding Public Affairs Program in the Nation.

Moderating the award-winning Town Hall Program

Faust is a former military counter-intelligence officer and he and his wife have traveled the world.  His civic and professional activities are too numerous to mention, but led to him receiving Portland’s First Citizen Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the Anti-Defamation League among others.

I named Jack as Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in 2014 (click on the link and you can see his full story) but he and his family have also been some of the most loyal Beerchasers since 2011.  Now you might expect someone with such a resume to have an elevated ego, but Jack retained his humility from law school as you can in the picture below:

Your Honor, May I approach the beer??”

He is also a great example of SWW’s wit.  In 1999, the firm changed it’s dress code for lawyers.  I might add that when I joined the firm in 1985, when one went into the office even on Saturday mornings, a number of the older lawyers would have on sports coats and ties.

When it became acceptable – even encouraged – by a new firm policy for lawyers to shed their coats and ties – first on Fridays and subsequently, every day unless they had a client meeting or a court appearance, it was a big adjustment.  So everybody got a kick out of Faust’s email to the firm:

“At the risk of the usual barrage of abuse – please spell my name right in your responses – I report the following:  This morning dressed in ‘business casual’ per SWW Reg. 1-901A(1)(c)(ii), I had just parked my car in the Pac West Center garage and deposited my keys in the box by the parking attendant’s station.  

A fancy car rolled up with a well-dressed woman at the wheel.  She asked me, ‘Do I park it myself or will you park it for me?’  I was about to tell her that I am a lawyer, not a parking attendant, but I was afraid my mother would find out.  It would kill her!

I often took advantage of Faust’s stage presence and the firm’s appreciation of creativity in my presentations at the Firm Retreats.   When giving an update on financial matters and the state of the firm, I would always sprinkle in some humor – in this case with videos – one of which is an outtake – in which you will see Faust and another one of my favorite partners, Carson Bowler, mock the SWW dress code.

 

 

Captain of Vandelay Industries

Followers of this blog might conclude that Bowler has an uncanny  resemblance to one of the former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, Art Vandelay.

PS:  Dave Kopilak, referenced in the video is a brilliant former SWW lawyer who was the primary drafter of the successful Oregon ballot measure to legalize marijuana and now has his own firm – Emerge Law Group.  He took pride in his approach to casual wear.

Dave Kopilak looking pretty good….

Stay tuned for future posts where I will expand on my premise about the elevated wit of lawyers and some great stories.

In Memoriam

Those in the Portland legal community were saddened by the passing of Susan Hammer in late August.  She was one of Oregons’ most respected lawyers and mediators.

I first met Susan when we served on the Board of Governors for the Portland City Club and her civic and charitable activities were of such magnitude that we used to kid her to which she would respond, “I guess I’m just a girl with poor refusal skills!”  And not only was she on such boards as Planned Parenthood, Willamette University, Oregon Public Broadcasting and Literary Arts, she was in leadership roles and knew how to raise money.

Before forming her own mediation firm, she was a partner at the Stoel Rives Firm and received numerous honors for her legal skill and dedication to the profession.  Notwithstanding her civic activities and professional work, family and friends were always a paramount priority.   We will truly miss this remarkable woman.

Pondering the Pandemic – No. 2

The historic New Atlas Bar in Columbus, Montana – notice the albino mule deer

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the post is not clipped or shortened.)

As I’ve mentioned in my last few posts – probably self-evident – visits to new watering holes whether bars or breweries are temporarily on hold for Thebeerchaser.  That said, I have a lot of old memories and thoughts about my favorite topic which can still provide grist to loyal followers – at least for awhile.

That was true reminiscing about our road trip through Montana last year in the recent post (see link below)  and that narrative was about just five of the 49 new establishments we visited on that 3,700 mile trip — like the historic New Atlas Bar in Columbus, Montana.

Joan Melcher, who wrote two books on Montana bars described the New Atlas  – one of her favorites below – and the second paragraph is a little curious.  The New Atlas, indeed, was one of the most curious of the forty-nine bars we hit on the trip:

“Hulking throughout the room are bald eagles, an albino mule deer fawn, a coyote howling to the moon, young bobcats fighting an Audak (African mountain sheep), a Canadian lynx, raccoon or two, a fox, a snow owl. moose heads, elk heads – buffalo, antelope, mountain sheep – all kinds of heads…

Amused acceptance?!  What’s the other option??

…..There’s a queer sensation that goes with drinking sur-rounded by dead, stuffed animals.  The first reaction is one of nonchalance – ah some nice stuffed animals. 

After a few drinks, you feel countless pairs of eyes bearing down.  You have another beer to relax under their scrutiny, look around again, and you’re among friends, the animals’ glares having softened to amused acceptance.”

The last post with the five other Montana bar descriptions (Trapper’s Saloon in Eureka, the Saw Mill Saloon in Darby – a town with a legendary Town Marshal, the Wise River Club in Wise River, the Antler Saloon in Wisdom and the Dewey Tavern also in Wise River – all Montana classics is at the link below:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/08/19/pondering-during-the-pandemic-1/

A Return to the Central Oregon Coast

Right now, however, I’m coming back to Oregon – some of my favorite spots – dive bars on the Oregon Coast. These institutions are in jeopardy especially since the pandemic and be protected as should any endangered species such as the Washington golden mantel ground squirrel…..

The Sportsman in Pacific City

One of the great resources in the earlier days of this blog (2011-14) was a similar blog I came upon in doing research for my posts.  Matt Love, a prolific and talented author and now owner of a small Astoria publishing house he founded in 2003 – The Nestucca Spit Press

His blog, “Let it Pour”, originated as a popular column in Hipfish Monthly, an alternative magazine in Astoria. He no longer maintains the site and unfortunately a number of the watering holes are no longer in business..

Matt in his younger days sans beard…

Matt is a keen observer of both the ambiance of dive bars and the interactions that take place among the patrons – and is an expert in describing those in entertaining style.  Take this one from LetItPour.net that made me check out the Old Oregon as one of my first Coast dives.

“(It’s) a damn fine gritty place to drink beer – a lot of beer….The regulars call it The Old O and after spending time there over the years, I feel it is not too outrageous to suggest the nickname stands not only for The Old Oregon Tavern in Lincoln City — which it does — but really some of the patrons’ last long ago orgasm.  Maybe in the Johnson Administration.”

The interior of the Old O reflects the taste of the owners and its rich history as a tavern.  According to one patron who smoked cigarettes (Matt wrote this before the 2009 law banning smoking) and drank beer while attached to a portable oxygen tank, the joint dates to World War II, but maybe earlier.”

So with some curiosity, but no expectations, I hunkered into the Old O – right on Highway 101 in the heart of Lincoln City with my brother-in-law, Dave Booher and our friend, Steve Larson for a few beers and to observe. 

As per my usual Beerchaser process, I was sitting at the bar drinking draft PBR’s, asking the bartender questions and taking photos around the quaint place.  As per Matt’s observation about the family character of Coast dives, we noted  there was going to be a wake for a recently deceased regular – “Rod.”  We did not take the sign literally and assumed that when it stated, “Have a drink on Rod,” that his casket was not going to be in the Old O for the celebration.

A wake – but no casket….

Then, in walks a very stocky middle-aged guy in a motorcycle jacket and hat and purposefully strides towards a seat at the back of the bar where he could observe everything going on.   The bartender said softly, “That’s Irish Mike – our local ambassador.”   I took a few more pictures and rejoined my companions at the bar.

At that point Irish Mike pointed and motioned me to come to his chair.  With some trepidation, but also curiosity, I headed back to him and as I approached, he reached into his wallet and pulled out two one-dollar bills.  He stared at me and said:

“It’s your turn to plug the juke box. Don’t screw it up!”

Irish Mike and Thebeerchaser

Fortunately, he liked my selections of Van Morrison and the Eagles.  We had a great chat and I found out that he is a retired exec from San Francisco and rides his Harley up to Oregon a few times a year and the Old O is always one of his stops.

That stop after three years of Beerchasing, affirmed that there were many more yarns in the future. My stories, however, pale to Matt’s Love’s.  So take a look at his newspaper-tabloid publication Oregon Tavern Age – a bargain at $10 or three copies for $20 at his Nestucca Spit Press website where you will also find other wonderful books on Oregon he has written.

Before we get to OTA, the picture above gives me reason to momentarily digress.   I asked Matt what spurred his fascination with beavers – pervasive and tactically placed throughout the almost eighty different bar tails… (sorry – I couldn’t resist) tales throughout the 58-page OTA publication.

I thought it might be because he, like I, was an OSU grad but he got his degrees at Portland State and Lewis and Clark.  His captivation with the flat-tailed, semi-aquatic rodent was a product of observing them in the woods during his walks on the Oregon coast and his collection of beaver wood – an obsession, of sorts, for the last ten years – and an amazing sight adjacent to his RV.

Beaverwood – ten years worth…

The topic of Beavers then provides a convenient segue to my next topic – Oregon State Football and whether the Beavs under Coach Jonathan Smith will exceed expectations this fall.

However, not only will the Beaver quarterbacks, lineman and defensive backs, etc. be occupied otherwise on Saturday afternoons, but so will the midfielders on the soccer team and the setter and outside hitter on the volleyball team.

The Pac 12, as did some of the other NCAA conferences made the wise decision to protect athletes and fans by either suspending or delaying fall and winter sports.

So instead of being on the gridiron, the Beaver football players will have a chance to spend time in the library until at least next spring and help bolster the academic standing of OSU – possibly to a scholastic peak that the football team can be proud of. Thus, any current discussion of football would be strictly academic……

Oregon Tavern Age

Don’t bother Googling Oregon Tavern Preservation Society. That’s Matt’s imagination…

Matt describes how the phrase was coined based on an experience thirty-four years ago when he and some friends were sitting in Seaside’s The Beach Club, drinking 50-cent drafts:

“A man blasted through the door and obliterated the tavern’s somnolent mood.  His hair was feathered….and perfect.  He appeared anywhere from 40 to 70 years old.  Many years later, I coined the phrase ‘Oregon Tavern Age’ or ‘OTA’ to describe the condition….*1

The man’s name was Larry or Wayne, both solid OTA names.  He sat down with us at the bar.  He was loud.  I struck up a conversation with him and learned he had $10,000 in cash stuffed into his pants pocket…..*2

He had cashed a check the previous afternoon – a settlement from an injury suffered in an automobile accident and was ready to party down – hard.  He bought the house a round, screamed an encouraging profanity, and then bolted out the door.”

*1 I am appalled now that I’m 72, Matt doesn’t consider me part of OTA.  Through my lawyer, I will consider notifying federal and state agencies (such as the Oregon Liquor Control Commission) and WCTU (?) on possible sanctions for age discrimination.

*2  Wayne or Larry probably only had about 70% of that amount of cash on him as his lawyer would have taken the other 30% as his or her contingency fee.

This was clearly not the last or even a tiny slice of the stories and observations Love makes in this treatise that was so interesting and enjoyable to me that I used a yellow highlighter so I could come back and savor parts of it again later.

Matt published OTA in 2019, but these stories go back years to:

“…the halcyon days of Oregon tavern life:  no liquor, no craft beers, no meth, no video poker or  slots, smoke-filled and the classic cheap Pacific Northwest lagers brewing in the Pacific Northwest by union men reigned supreme.”

Now based on the 375 watering holes I have visited, I have a lot of stories, but Matt is a master of observation not only of the human interaction, but the trappings and character of these dives.  He converts the notes he took “jotting down observations with a pencil on a golf score card” and his conversations with the regulars into a captivating collection of stories and anecdotes with great graphic illustrations – courtesy of his ex-wife.

It will make you want to drive down to Pacific City and have a draft Budweiser at the Sportsman Pub and Grub where for years, Matt served as the bar’s Writer in Residence (Thebeerchaser reviewed this great dive in October 2014.)

“I like Old!”

For example, his observation upon getting a recommendation to check out the Crow’s Nest Lounge in Gold Beach – although being warned it’s regulars were an older crowd:

“’Good,’ I thought. I like old.”   That’s where the real OTA action unfolds like so much frozen molasses locked inside a glacier.  I hate fast bars with loud, dumb kids throwing down jello shots while fiddiling on their fancy phones.  They need a little Black Velvet to calm then down…..We all do.”

And I can just visualize Matt, sitting at a dark red booth with cracked vinyl, enveloped in second-hand smoke and nursing a cheap Hamm’s – this as he observed a guy drinking white wine:

“The white wine hailed from a black box.  The man sat next to another OTA man drinking Budweiser from a tall can.  In the wings, a female bartender fiddled on her phone.  The Stanley Cup Final highlights played quietly on a flatscreen.

At a nearby table, an OTA woman drank coffee and ate clam chowder and dunked a peanut butter bar, in both, while reading a firearms magazine.  She hacked an ex-smoker’s hack between dunks and turning the pages.”

Now there have been about eight dives on the coast that have either closed permanently or indefinitely suspended operations   It’s not possible for someone to open a new dive bar – it’s somewhat of a contradiction of terms. And Matt is the cerebral vault in which many of the stories are maintained and only unlocked on special occasions.  For example:

“One day, many years ago, a woman sat in Pitch’s Tavern in Port Orford.   She saw a horse drinking beer from a saucer on the counter.  On another visit, she saw a live boxer crab holding an unlit cigarette in one claw and a glass of beer in the other.”

The author is sometimes maudlin and philosophical in his musings and I will leave you with his rhetorical question and the recommendation that you order the Oregon Tavern Age and join Thebeerchaser in reveling at the stories of a gifted writer:

“Could all the bartenders in OTA country be replaced by Alexa-like robot devices?  Can you imagine Alexa responding to a question like: “Alexa, can I have the bear tacos and Hamm’s special?’ 

There will never be an algorithm for that.  There will never be an algorithm for OTA country. Everything is utterly random, except for the consistency of the regulars and their stories and the utter unpredictability of the bartenders.  If I want an algorithm, I’ll go to a brewpub.”

Savor the story of the Deep Fried Miller High Life at the Mad Dog Country Tavern just out of Newport (that and The Triangle Tavern under the Megler Bridge in Astoria are two of his favorites )

Or check out the one on the blue parrot playing video poker (and winning) at the historic Bay Haven Inn in the heart of Newport, by ordering Matt’s OTA.  And take a look at some of the other great offerings at the Nestucca Spit Press while you’re at it.

And Finally…

Courtesy of Molly Larson Cook

With two daughters who are both nurses, I’ve stated before, my plea for everyone to wear masks.   And here’s a great place to get one plus a bonus from Patty Voldbaeck – a former excellent legal secretary at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt firm. 

Patty’s masks are made of 100%cotton fabric with ultralight fusible interfacing (if requested) and a pocket insert protector of your personal preference.  She also has a piece of N-95 fabric available with instructions for care.

Designer Masks

The bonus is that one of Patty’s Famous Molasses Cookies comes with each mask order or if you would like more (based on my experience, you will….) they are available at $12 a dozen. 
 
GP   Grandma Patty’s Famous Creations
Masks, Molasses Cookies & Scrubbys
Notary-Oregon
503-476-2216

Pondering During the Pandemic – 1

Vortex 1 – Protesting in 1970…No tear gas, projectiles and violence – just sunburn!

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the post is not clipped or shortened.)

Thebeerchaser’s exploration of new establishments during the pandemic has been limited (or basically non-existent) so on recent posts I’ve covered some miscellaneous topics such as reminiscing about Vortex 1  – the only state-sponsored rock concert in US history held near Estacada, Oregon in 1970.  It’s a fascinating story: https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/07/16/beerchasing-miscellany-lockdown-version-ii/

In a number of posts, I’m also “revisiting,” in a manner of speaking, some of my favorite bars and breweries visited during the nine years I’ve pursued my idiosyncratic retirement hobby with the tally now at 375 establishments reviewed since August, 2011.  This time I will focus on the Big Sky State.

Oh Montana!!

No gun rack, but Starbucks and Sirius satellite radio

In June 2019, my wife and I had a marvelous combined road trip of fourteen days from Oregon to the Dakotas and back.

I say “combined” because the first six days, I drove our 2015 Prius (without any gun rack) through Montana  – solo before picking my wife up at the Billings, Montana Airport for the remainder of that trip.

If it weren’t for the weather from October to March, Montana, with its outstanding scenery, would be an ideal place to live.

Lake Koocanusa near Eureka, Montana

We love road trips and miss them greatly. In the last six months, about the only road trip I’ve taken is into the next county to a store that was one of the few places that had Chlorox Wipes available.  That 49 mile round-trip had none of the benefits I experienced in Montana other than picking up an all-beef Seven-Eleven Big Bite Hot Dog for only $1 on National Hot Dog Day on the way (unbeknownst to my wife…..).

Only $1 on National Hot Dog Day

My first two nights were in Yaak, in the far NW corner of Montana where I spent much of that time in the Dirty Shame Saloon with owner, John Runkle.  The Shame was the most interesting and my favorite watering hole of the 375 in the nine years of Beerchasing and John, one of the most interesting personalities.

(Click on the links in the para above or below to see one of the four posts I did on this legendary saloon and put it on your bucket list — I mean Right Now!!   https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/10/16/thebeerchasers-final-thoughts-on-the-dirty-shame-saloon/

John Runkle in front of the bar that reflects his personality

Thebeerchaser and John Runkle with the gift of Benedictine Beer from the monks at Mt. Angel, Oregon

Subsequent nights in Kalispell, Hamilton, Anaconda and Livingston increased my bar tally by 29 establishments.   After I picked up Janet, we hit the road, visiting six National Parks and Monuments in addition to museums and, of course, bars and breweries in North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Idaho before returning home.

The total of 3,700 miles on the combined trip saw us visit a total of forty-nine new establishments for my Beerchasing reviews.

Visiting Badlands Natl. Park in South Dakota

One can go for for miles and miles without seeing anybody or even having to turn your steering wheel!  Montana is known is the Big Sky State although it could easily be captioned as the long, straight road state as well. For road trippers, it’s superb.

If you want to see, the composite list of bars for that trip, check out the end of the following post: https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/07/05/big-sky-beerchasing-the-preface/

On those six days solo in Montana, I hit some of the most memorable bars and met the most colorful characters since I began Beerchasing and a sample is shown below.   One common theme is taxidermy and Miller High Life. (I had the Time and the bars had the beer……..)

This picture of the Trappers’ Saloon on Highway 93 near Eureka, Montana is a great example and also very typical.  Their slogan is “Where the West is Still Wild!” and they try to prove that in the horseshoe pit by the side of the bar each day.

The Trapper – an exquisite example Where the West is Still Wild…

And the 205 taxidermists in Montana are ubiquitous.   All parts of the animal are used as can be seen from the lower left of this photo: 

And it’s not just in the bars where you will see mounted wildlife – birds, snakes, fish, beaver, deer and elk, bison and even an alligator and a polar bear (Blue Moon Saloon outside Kalispell) decorating the walls as evidenced by this picture of the lobby in the historic Murray Hotel on Main Street in Livingston.

Speaking of Taxidermy….

In going through old files from the law firm that I have kept for almost ten years since retirement, I came across this one from one of the Schwabe lawyers coincidentally related to this topic…..

For those uncomfortable with the end result of taxidermy, at least this actual case involved the more cuddly substitute. One of Schwabe’s female appellate lawyers sent this e-mail to the firm in April 2001:

“I need a small to medium sized stuffed squirrel for an oral argument at the Court of Appeals next Wednesday.  No taxidermy please.  I promise to return said squirrel safely after the argument.”     

Cute and protected…..

Well, she told me a few days ago in response to an e-mail that the case involved the golden mantle ground squirrel – a protected species in Oregon, but not Washington where it is a native species, but curiously not protected.

Unfortunately for our client – an Oregon rancher – one of the pesky critters had hopped a log raft and took a leisurely cruise across the Columbia River and “invaded” his Oregon property.  The State wanted to shut his operation down. Schwabe was trying to get the case reversed after an unfavorable verdict in the lower court:

“The State had cutesy pictures of the little critters in its brief so I needed the stuffed squirrels for “live action” pictures.”

Did she get a stuffed squirrel for her court appearance?

Just kidding – Counsel would have dressed her’s up in male outfits because it was an all-male panel in the Court of Appeals.

“I ended up with ten stuffed squirrels from various firm members, I lined them up on counsel table.  One of them fell off the table during my argument…I heard from a law clerk several years later that the three judges never stopped talking about it…and, I lost.” 

But I Digress – Back to Montana

After two nights in Yaak, I spent a night in Kalispell and then Hamilton – a nice berg on the western border of Montana.  Then I took a “rural” and roundabout route to my next stay in Anaconda, but only after stopping at four great bars in the boonies.

The Sawmill Saloon in Darby

Having graduated from an aggie school –  Oregon State University (in Corvallis, Oregon not Montana – see below) with a great forestry program – and given the history of the Oregon Timber Industry, I was very interested in another bar – the Saw Mill Saloon.

Darby is right on Highway 93 and has a population of only 720 (it gained 10 between the 2000 and 2010 census) and this watering hole was understandably not hopping on a weekday morning.  Located in the historic State Bank of Darby building, the bartender showed me the two big vaults, one of which is now used to store kegs and cases of beer.

Darby was once a bustling timber, mining and transportation hub, but since the ’70’s has relied mostly on tourism.  Town Marshall, Larry Rose (who is also a taxidermist… ) has been marshal for 36 years as chronicled in a fascinating 2014 article in the Billings Gazette:

“…..(Rose) once punched the town judge during a city council meeting before handcuffing him. (That made the late Paul Harvey’s news broadcast) In a town that celebrates Old West individualism, Rose has more law enforcement surveillance cameras monitoring his citizens than any other city in Montana.

Obey the speed limit and watch for Larry’s surveillance cameras

…..Rose’s station house looks like a memorial to the town’s Old West heyday. It features an iron-barred jail cell in the corner, a gun rack full of lever-action Winchester rifles and mountain lion skins on the wall. The 71-year-old Rose flicks a button on his computer. A checkerboard of 16 little screens pops up.

They’re the surveillance cameras Rose has strategically positioned around town, on light poles and balconies, and even in flower planter barrels. The software spots vehicle license plates and automatically records the numbers.”

I wish Rose had been at the Saw Mill Saloon that morning since he was born only 22 miles up Highway 93 in Corvallis, Montana – only 675 miles from the OSU campus.  We we could have regaled each other with Corvallis stories while raising a mug.  Based on a call to Darby yesterday, they confirmed that Rose – now 76 – still holds the office.

Don’t you go speedin through my town, Mr. Letterman!

For example there was the time in 1998 when he came into contact with the former host of the Late Night Show“Town Marshal Lassoes Letterman”)

“David Letterman can’t escape traffic tickets even in a state noted for its high-speed highways.  While Montana has no posted daytime speed limit on its highways, Letterman found out the same can’t be said of city speed limits.

He was stopped Saturday for driving 38 mph in a 25 mph zone and was pleasant as he paid a $50 fine, said Larry Rose, town marshal of Darby, population 800.”

If you look on Google, Rose’s tenure has been filled with internal political turmoil, he’s been in the middle of a town polarized on the issues and even involved in a 2005 incident, when Rose killed a man who tried to take away his firearm during a domestic disturbance. (He was exonerated after an inquest although the family of the victim was unsatisfied with the decision – so his Corvallis stories would probably be more interesting than mine…….)

Not used for cash and bonds any more – just kegs and cases!

And you would not believe the number of old chain saws and lumber mill saw blades hanging from the ceiling, which gives the Sawmill Saloon a great Montana ambiance.

Take a look at one perspective from a very recent (June, 2020) Yelp reviewer – also named Don, who I gleaned from his website, like Thebeerchaser, also a native New Yorker. This interesting fella wrote:

Stihl in good operating condition…

“one of the main reasons i love it is that liberals really hate sawmills, mining, coal, gas and everything that keeps our country moving forward. so i love the decor. hopefully this is not just some shallow statement from people who really oppose sawmills and blue collar workers who keep our country great.”

As an aside, Don on his website also stated that his wife is his “latest crush,” the last great book he read was “Books not written by liberals or wacko leftists”  and his latest discovery is that “liberalism is a mental disorder.”

The bartender was a jovial, rather rotund guy, and I guess I missed a nice bartender – also named, Dawn, who a guy named Jonathan on Restaurant.com just this March, wrote:

Great bartender, really cute, going to be a great mother,”

Of course, this raises many questions and unfortunately, Jonathan didn’t elaborate on his criteria for “great” parental skills…..

The Antler Saloon in Wisdom

In a little less than an hour I got to Wisdom, Montana, where I met Bernie, the “head bartender and pizza maker” – their specialty which draws rave reviews – at the Antler Saloon.  As you can see below, the taxidermy was not disappointing nor was my  Miller High Life and I contemplated the beer’s 117 year history.

Bernie at the Antler

Fritz – soft spoken but friendly

I sat at the bar next to a warm-blooded character, although not the best conversationalist.  As I left, however, my new, but tight-lipped buddy, Fritz, waved a paw and I look forward to going back for heightened Wisdom.  I’m confident that my canine friend will be sitting on the same bar stool.

Bernie did not tell me if Fritz was the enforcer for those who violated the admonition in the  men’s (and possibly slightly modified in the women’s) restroom:

“Spit chew in the garbage not the urinal.”

Joan Melcher, in her outstanding book, Montana Watering Holes does point out that the Antler Saloon was previously named the Wisdom Inn which, in itself, had a fabled history.

 

The Wise River Club

Only 38 miles from Wisdom, through some stunningly exquisite scenery, I stopped in Wise River and had a Miller High Life and a great chat with Tom Davis at the Wise River Club.

Tom is the 75-year old owner and head bartender (also singer and guitarist for weekend live music based on his experience leading opening acts for Sonny and Cher, the Mamas and Papas and Paul Revere and the Raiders in the ‘60’s).

Tom Davis – bartender, storyteller, singer and guitarist

The cordial Scotchman also related the story about the guy who was murdered in the men’s room at the Club a number of years ago in this watering hole and hotel on the north edge of the Beaverhead National Forest.  (Marshall Larry Rose was not involved….)

One other distinguishing characteristic of this historic bar – it had the only working pay-phone of any of the 49 watering holes on the trip.  I guess you could call 911 in the event of a murder if you had a quarter or maybe it was just a dime…..

And the picture below may raise some questions which are answered, at least in theory, by author, Joan Melcher.  You are looking at elk antlers:

“Nineteen sets – attached to the ceiling and extending from the front of the bar to the end and around a corner.  They were all from one elk that was kept across the street, he says, in some sort of game farm.  The elk lived for twenty three years.” (Page 31)

Better than a draft – after all, it is the Champagne of Bottled Beers!

Perhaps it was the two bottles of Miller High Life – after all, it is the “Champagne of Bottled Beers” or perhaps it was the great bartenders and the history of the establishments, but after I left Wise River and then Wisdom, I just felt a bit more intelligent…..

The Dewey Bar in Wise River

Now, the Dewey Bar is only seven miles east of the Wise River Social Club on Highway 43 along the Big Hole River and you won’t find it in Joan Melcher’s book of classic Montana bars.  Nor will you find a website for it and their Facebook page went mostly inactive since 2015.  It’s just that it was a reunion stop for me.

Road trip sixteen years ago….

In 2004, I was on a two-month firm sabbatical and for part of that time, Janet let me take a ten-day road trip through Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

I had no set itinerary (except to stop in Stanley, Idaho to visit the Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon) and carried my mountain bike on the back of my Forester.  I had not even thought of Beerchasing at that time because I was still a number of years from retirement.

But on about the sixth day out, I ended up at the Dewey Bar, in the late afternoon.  It was the one night I was car camping in a nearby National Forest Campground and I saw the Budweiser signs on the exterior near the front entrance in a one-room building with wood plank siding and it was Happy Hour!

I sat down at the bar next to a somewhat grizzled guy drinking a Bourbon and Coke and found out he was a retired lawyer from Seattle who had settled nearby.   About that time, there was some shouting at the other end of the bar – then occupied by about fifteen patrons – and two guys looked like they were going to square off.

Retired from Seattle

The lawyer suddenly shouted, “If you guys sit down and shut up, I’ll buy everybody in the house a round!”  They did – he did – and everyone toasted him.  The bartender took our picture above and that was the last time I laid eyes on him. But I always vowed to go back.

Lori, Shawn and Steve

(Fortunately I was not there in 2010 when the bar was fined $794 by the Montana Department of Environment Quality for failing to monitor the coliform bacteria in the bar’s water supply.)

But the bar looked exactly the same and I talked to the friendly bartender, Lori and had a beer with two great guys named Shawn and Steve who were on their day off from the Montana State Highway Division – also on their second round of  Bloody Mary’s (and listening to CNN – one of the few times a bar didn’t have Fox News on in Montana).

Jake Tapper rather than Sean Hannity – a refreshing change…….

They told the story about the day the bar opened fifteen years ago and some guy with a rifle shot off 64 rounds in the back area by the kitchen. A dog got wounded and went berserk and a Forest Service guy tackled the offender and told him he better switch from Budweiser to Gatorade.  As a result of the damage done by the rifle fire, they had to totally remodel the kitchen and the back area.

Well, after that I rolled into a rough old mining town – Anaconda – with one of the rougher bars I’ve been to in my Beerchasing journey.

But the story on The Owl in Anaconda will have to wait for another post.

Cheers!

The Owl Bar in Anaconda