For our third stop Tuesday, November 19, all we had to do was cross the street. We were still at “Rocket Corners.” If we had the time and
thirst, we could still visit a few more bars on this intersection (Calhoun’s Beach Club, Mabel Murphy, Barley & Hops) without leaving the corners of Irving and Main.
We had been to Twisted Roots before when it was St. Thomas bar right next to Calhoun’s. Now under a new owner, it had changed its name and sign. The exterior (cept for the name) looked the same, but much of the interior had changed. There was a new back bar custom-made for the tavern and its new owner Brenda S. The wood was darker and the shelving changed. There were three TVs all showing college basketball games. One item on the back bar wall remained the same: the large statue of the Clydesdale horses in a Budweiser ad.
The floor plan of Twisted Roots is similar to dozens of Oshkosh Taverns built in the late 1880s and 1890s: a long narrow room with a bar running along one wall and a smaller back room. In this back room is a pool table and a couple of small tables. Rest rooms were added later to these places and as a result are usually small and cramped. The men’s room here juts out into the barroom and measures about 8 feet by 3 feet. Hard to turn around in a place like that. Some folks might have to back in.
Except for a “regular” at the end of the bar, we were the only patrons at that time. But according to the tavern’s Facebook page, this is a popular place with lots of parties including a costumed Halloween party that was held, of course, on Halloween. Evan the bartender poured us a small pitcher of Blue Moon and handed out five glasses. None for Gary, our designated driver. By the way, Gary does drink beer, but not when at a wheel. There are six beers on tap, but the small pitcher special appealed the most to us.
“Why,” I asked Evan, “did the owner name the place Twisted Roots?” His answer was vague. “I think it has to do with family,” he
said. “You know, family tree, roots…” Suddenly I heard my mother’s voice in my head. “Don’t go there!” she would admonish my sister and me when we asked about my dad’s family. Of course, this made Ann and me all the more curious. Whatever. We decided, “not to go there” and more talk about the name Twisted Roots died.
Just a few years ago we would have found bars like this offering Jell-O or pudding shots. That fad seems to have died out. In its place now are mystery shots. Sitting on the back bar were five liquor bottles in brown paper bags that concealed their labels. The Mystery Shots were one dollar each. Too cheap to resist. To decide which one we would try, we rolled a die. The number on the die matched a number on a bottle. Marvin rolled a one. His Mystery Shot, he said, had a grape flavor. Each of us got something different. Elaine said hers reminded her of root beer. Each
of us had a different bottle. Keep in mind that Gary is our designated driver, so he neither rolled the die nor had a Mystery Shot. We all got kinda silly over the Mystery Shots. Mine, I recall, was just weird and reminded me of my grandma, Lala. She would buy bottle of liqueur just because the bottle was pretty or she liked the color of the booze. Her husband never drank anything alcoholic. As a result Lala would foist some strange colored stuff on us when we came to visit. My dad called it “Rot Gut.”
We decided not talk election returns—not wanting to spoil our evening. Instead we got on “how did you meet?” I started to tell my version of how I met Marv in an American Literature seminar at UW Madison. As usual Marv said I remembered it incorrectly and told his version. He thinks we met on a tour of the prison at Waupun. Whatever. I know
memory is “faulty.” Elaine and Gary met at Ohio University. Next question was how long did you date before tying the knot. A little less than a year was everyone’s answer. Marv and I have been married the longest; then come Elaine and Gary. Don and Judy are the “newly weds” who will celebrate their 50th this summer. Whew! Marv and I were each 24 when we tied the knot in Madison.
Maybe it was the Mystery Shots or maybe remembrances of things past, but Evan teased us saying we’d have to calm down or we’d have to leave. He was joking, I am sure. Nevertheless it was time for us to walk to Jabroni’s parking lot where the white van had been parked all this time. Designated driver Gary drove us home where we said warm good byes to Don and Judy who were Florida bound in a couple of weeks. We’d be saying farewell to Gary and Elaine in another month. That left Marv and me to enjoy a Wisconsin winter and Titan basketball. And next winter we can add the Bucks farm team to our winter outings!