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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Tales from the old-timer

Florence’s Tavern

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

daughter of the Old-Timer



**********

In the late 60’s there was a country bar located on Highway B between Peshtigo and Marinette. It was owned by a woman named Florence, and run by her and her companion Doc. I believe they lived in an upstairs apartment at the bar.

In the early years it was just a road-house type bar, but later they created a small dining room on the same level, and served fish fries and simple food as well. It had a juke box and a shuffle bowl game, since there was no room in the bar area for a pool table.

Back in those days there were many fewer venues for entertainment, so Florence set up a shuffle bowl league for couples on Saturday nights. The teams would show up, shuffle bowl a few games and keep track of who was winning the matches. Most of the league members were close-by neighbors who already knew one another well. It was an excuse for an outing and the team members would socialize and enjoy a little friendly competition. It was perfect, even for those not athletic or healthy enough for more demanding activities.

No nonsense or inappropriate language or rowdy behavior was tolerated in such establishments, so on rare occasions the kids got to go to Florence’s (although NOT on shufflebowl night) and I was mesmerized by the garish colors of the jukebox. I’d beg for a dime and watch the mechanized arm select the single, and move it to the turntable. My favorites were I fell into a Burning Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash and a song called Fooled Around and Fell in Love, which must also be a classic as I still hear it occasionally.

We all looked forward to shufflebowl night, because once I was old enough to babysit my siblings, we knew that we’d awaken in the morning and find Geyser’s Potato Chips on the kitchen table, with their shiny yellow bags featuring a bear holding a bunch of colored balloons. A great breakfast for us, and potato chips were not something we got at home.

In reading obituaries both in the Peshtigo Times and in my adopted state of Oklahoma, the place of the country bar seems to be occupied now by casinos. It’s an outing, accessible to everyone, and allows for some socialization. Doesn’t have the heart and soul of the neighborhood country bar, though.


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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