As far as I can tell from what I’ve found online, there are now two bars in Eyota, Minnesota and three in the neighboring town of Dover.
Back in 1978, there was only one establishment that served alcoholic beverages to the good people of both towns. As I recall, it was called the Dover-Eyota Municipal Liquor Store (apparently, it’s now called Green Door) and for three days in the middle of July that summer, I worked my first bartending job there.
That weekend (and the event that brought me there) was also a first for these two fine farming communities. 1978 was the first year of what would continue as an annual festival to this day. “Eyota Days” will be celebrating their fortieth anniversary this summer.
Ho! You Betcha!
Kinda sorta makes me feel more than a little proud to know that I was in on the inaugural opening of this most solemn celebration. This commemoration of all that these quiet and comely communities hold dear. As you can see on their website, the organizers of the event this coming summer have all kinds of wholesome good times planned but forty years ago things were a bit… simpler.
Everybody just got really REALLY drunk.
Smashed, knackered, sloshed, you know… dead drunk.
Like the good Lutheran farmers they were, they didn’t hoot or holler. They didn’t make a big production of the thing. They just plain and simple stood there in the bar and in the street, and drank and drank and drank… until they could no longer stand.
So they just laid down. Right where they’d been standing. Wherever that might be. If they had been standing in the bar, they laid down on the floor of the bar. If they’d been standing in the street, they laid down in the street.
I know. I’d been pouring their drinks all day and all night… for three days. And when it was over, I went outside and walked around all their dead drunk bodies. Lying in the street like so many pieces of fallen fruit.
And then I got into Teddy Tinkler’s car.
Ted was having a little trouble maneuvering around all the bodies so I had to come to him. I got into the back seat of his brand new Chrysler Cordova with the T-Top, Landau Roof and “Corinthian Leather”… (Remember those TV commercials with Ricardo Montalbán?) Ted got himself one of those cars.
I flopped into the back seat. Dead tired but ready to party.
“Here ya go honey.” Debbie was holding out a tiny spoonful of white powder, unaware that I had never tried cocaine. I sniffed it up into my left nostril without hesitation and did the same with the right one when Debbie’s little silver spoon came round again.
Ted (bless his heart) had come to pick me up after my first bartending ordeal and we were all on our way to Phil’s house. This was going to be an interesting one for Ted, but not for me. It was Phil’s birthday but I knew it was also going to be about the politics of Tinkler’s restaurant. My nineteen-year-old self may not have been cognizant as to why, but I hated politics back then as much as I do now.
Yes… a little over one year from that summer (in the fall of 1979) I would indeed be involved in, and thus more aware of politics. I would be involved in politics more than I’d ever been in my life, before or since. (Well… except for that one other time…) Anyway, those stories are of course, still to come. That summer of 1978, I just saw these kinds of people around me (when engaged in what they thought of as politics) as either players or posers. Even though I was also too naive to know that too. I just either liked them or I didn’t.
Phil was a poser as far as I was concerned. Ted was a player but I didn’t know that at the time. I just thought he was cool. Of course this simply shows either how good of a player he was, or how naive I was (probably both) and my opinion was not going to change that evening after my first gig as a “bartender” lobbing rum and coke’s, screwdrivers and tom collins’s at all them farmers in Eyota.
And my first time doing coke.
I was too busy being totally blasted by that double hit Debbie had fed me from her tiny silver spoon in the back seat of Ted’s Cordova, to even look at people. It was probably really good coke. So I stood there in the corner of Phil’s living room, totally unaware of all the posers and players at the party. I was afraid to sit down thinking I’d never be able to get up again if I did. I HATED this feeling and would never do coke again. (except for that one other time) My entire body was numb and shaking and I had this pernicious awful taste in the back of my mouth.
What I also didn’t know that evening, was that the following week at Tinkler’s would be my last. But that of course will have to be…
To be continued…