Get to be old enough, and they start closing all of your old haunts.
Sneaky Pete’s, one of the clubs we frequented in Wausau, Wisconsin, in the mid-’70s, has long been this restaurant, Wausau Mine Company.
It’s so named because it looks like a cave inside, as it did when it was Sneaky Pete’s. But I’ll never get used to being seated at a table on what used to be on the dance floor.
The New Home Tavern in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where Phyllis served us hot beef sandwiches at lunch in the late ’70s, was torn down long ago to make way for a bank.
New Home was an ancient place where you took three or four steps down from street level to get into the bar. Look out the window, and you’d see only the feet of people walking along Graham Avenue. Under a low-slung ceiling, the walls and back bar were full of off-sale beers — including Walter’s Beer, the local brew — and liquors.
And now the Stick is gone.
Milt Dalebroux opened the Candlestick Lounge in downtown Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1962. After Milty retired (he just moved to the other side of the bar), his daughter Debby ran the place.
Back in the early ’80s, we’d play basketball at the Y after work, then walk across the bank parking lot and into the back door of the Stick for happy hour. Some nights, we had dinner there — beer, popcorn, veggies and dip, and beer.
The Stick was a sports bar before there were sports bars. A couple of TVs did the job. One night — this has to be 1985 — we went there after the Packers had played at home. The place was jam-packed, and one of the Packers’ players, Paul Coffman, was holding court behind the bar. I was wearing a Missouri football jersey that night, and Coffman had played at Kansas State, so of course he good-naturedly razzed me.
When Janet and I were married in 1987, the reception started at the Holiday Inn, but ended at the Stick. When we arrived, Debby broke out a bottle of champagne for us — a gracious gesture considering we were only occasional visitors and far from regulars.
But times change, kids arrive and old routines fade. In recent years, we gathered at the Stick only when old friends were back in town.
The Stick closed for good last weekend.
Now it’s just a pleasant memory from another time, like this:
“If You’ve Got the Time, We’ve Got the Beer,” Miller High Life commercial theme, 1971.