They tore it down and put up a parking lot, but Beaver Lodge was anything but a paradise.
It was a three-bedroom cement-block house dropped into a gritty, seen-better-days business district. It sat just a block off Highway 53 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. A seedy motel was next door. A liquor store was behind the house, as was an electrician’s scrap yard. The TV station was a block north, its 1,000-foot tower at the end of our street.
Thirty years ago, I lived at Beaver Lodge. On Saturday, we were at a gathering just a couple of blocks away. And though it was there when we drove past a couple of years ago, Beaver Lodge is gone now. Torn down. Paved over. It brought back a rush of memories.
I was 21, a senior in college, when I lived at Beaver Lodge from the summer of 1978 to the spring of 1979. I was moving beyond my hometown friends for the first time, working more than attending classes, not dating anyone, not sure what my future held.
That year in Beaver Lodge, I must have had a dozen housemates. Mikey, Bobby, Norm, John, Mark, Johnny and the other Jeff were the core group, roughly half students and half older guys out of college (but still living the life). Any number of lovely young women were occasional overnight visitors and/or housemates.
Beaver Lodge didn’t have a lot of rules, but you did have to be cool. Especially when one of those lovely young women would walk out wearing little more than a T-shirt and underwear. None of this: “And you are?” Rather: “How you doing? Want some breakfast?”
It often was a wild ride at Beaver Lodge, but we never got to needing …
“Lawyers, Guns and Money,” Warren Zevon, from “Excitable Boy,” 1978. We all were younger in 1978.
(Hard to believe Zevon has been gone five years now, too.)
Oh, yes, quite a rush of memories. I think we’ll be returning for more Tales from Beaver Lodge.
By the way, Beaver Lodge was on Harlem Street. I kid you not.