When I took a seat at the bar, JoBell -- the bar wench who busted me taking photos of the building last time and rightfully told me I was weird -- took a good long look at my face, laughed and announced, "Hey! It's Robin from the RFT!"
Instantly, I had a beer in one hand, and that guy named Grandma shaking my other. Grandma called his fiancée, Grandpa, to come meet me. Tow Truck, Billy Bob, Meg and her boyfriend, John, who met at the bar a year ago, were there, too.
Such were the tales I heard all night while the beers magically appeared before me. I can't even begin to remember all of them, but I'll always remember the story of Mr. Schaeffer.
He started coming to the bar when he was in his 80s, lonesome after his wife's death. The Screamer's crew took him to his last Cardinals game for his 85th birthday, played poker with him, made sure he got home safely at night, and when he went into a nursing home, they visited him regularly until he passed at the age of 89.
Some bars are just bars -- places to anonymously get lit. Others are sanctuaries filled with more love and compassion than I ever imagined.
On its final night, I intend to honor Screamer's by getting on that penny-covered bar and shaking my ass, just as long as someone plays "Fat Bottom Girls" on the jukebox and Tow Truck gives me a boost. It's the least I can do for this great little community that made an interloper like me feel like a queen.
Robin Wheeler writes the blog Poppy Mom. She also has a strange attraction to drinking establishments with jars of pickled -- or possibly fossilized -- eggs. She reports on these dives for Gut Check every Thursday.
After the jump, more photos of Screamer's from Robin.