The Dive Bomber: Tears in My Beer at Haney's Place

Jun 18, 2009 at 3:12 pm
The Dive Bomber: Now on Thursdays!

One night last year, my husband and I stopped by Rick's Place, our favorite bar, to find a new sign with a new name. We peered in the window long enough to notice a new jukebox and far too many people. Overcome with grief, we left without setting foot in the renamed Haney's Place.

I learned of Rick's from several Metro East friends who told me Rick had the best jukebox in the world. Rick had loaded it with the usual bar suspects, but also the Clash, Wilco, Doug Sahm and a bevy of obscure music-geek nirvana. During my first visit, I spent an evening playing Guess the Pre-1970 Garage Rock Song with a drunk old man.

Rick's didn't have beertaps. They broke years ago. Then the beer coolers broke. Cans and bottles were packed in ice in picnic coolers.

My husband joined me for my first visit to Haney's, lest I become overwhelmed. And because it was $1.50 longneck night.

click to enlarge The Dive Bomber: Tears in My Beer at Haney's Place
Robin Wheeler
How quickly a run-down hippie bar with anti-Bush comics stapled to the wall can be transformed into a biker bar with walls covered in Wyatt Earp memorabillia. During our visit, there were more people at Haney's than I saw in all my visits to Rick's combined.

I guess that's an improvement. If you like people.

While I missed listening to Uncle Tupelo, I can't complain about a bar with that much outlaw country being played. Bonus points for George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and a woman crying into her beer two tables from us.

click to enlarge Wanted: Whatcha Macallit - Robin Wheeler
Robin Wheeler
Wanted: Whatcha Macallit
The new management hasn't replaced the taps or coolers. I hope they never do.

I wanted to hate Haney's Place on principle, but I couldn't. Friendly bartenders, beer on ice, good music, a community that comforted the tearful lady and a guy named Watcha MaCallit sitting under his own "wanted" poster -- there's a lot to love.

Rest in peace, Rick's. Long live Haney's. Welcome to the century of bar history at 126 East State Street.

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.