The Tavern, Old and New, Monk Watson

The Tavern, Old and New

 

From the Colon Express newspaper, June 26, 1968, by Monk Watson: “The swinging doors are long gone, as is the sawdust on the floor. Yes, only a very few of us will remember the old Jay Marr’s Saloon. However, we’ll not ever forget the real nice place that has taken its place over the years. Today we, the people of Colon have a new front to look at and be proud of. Every town in Michigan I guess, has a tavern and takeout place, but none has a better looking one than Curly’s. “Curly’s” is the name that we’ll remember, but really it is the son, Kenny, who has taken over and made the new improvements.

In the old, old days t was a terrible thing to be found in a saloon. That is, to make it a daily habit. As a little boy I remember people saying, “So and So is down at Jay Marr’s saloon getting loaded.” Some would even walk on the other side of the street so as not to get close to those swinging doors and the smell of sawdust and beer. Those people are long, long gone and the people of today just don’t feel that ways. Maybe it’s because we don’t have that sort of saloon anymore … that is, in Colon.

My first brush with old Jay Marr’s saloon was when I was about eight or nine years old. I had a tin flute and my friend Allison Havens had a tin drum. We could play two tunes, “Home Sweet Home” and “Jesus Lover Of My Soul”. We’d play those tunes over and over again as we’d parade down the street to town, and then Jeff took up a collection. I believe we must have had two dollars in his hat. We took the money home and I remember my dear mother asking, “Where in the world did you get all of the money?”

I told her Jeff Hill had taken us into Jay Marr’s saloon and had passed his hat. That’s all it took to have her walk across the road to the Havens’ house and get Mrs. Havens and the two of them took off for the saloon. My mother pushed the doors open with both hands swinging, said, “Don’t you ever bring my boy into this hell hole again!”

She was never very well so it did take a lot of doing just for her to walk that far and I’m sure the strain on her voice didn’t help any. I was very sorry, especially after my father gave me a going over. I know that Mr. Hill got a big kick out of it as he was always my friend, and he always asked me how my music was coming along.  He was very fond of music and made it possible for the LKG (Lamb Knit Goods) to have one of the best brass bands in the country. His favorite tune was “In The Good Old Summer Time” and he’d ask the band to play it over and over again, and he’d ask Arthur Kane and his daughter Marion to sing it and Arthur would also dance to it. Jeff would swing his gold headed cane and lead the band. Then, during the concert he’d have the boys drop into the two or three saloons and have a little lift. I’m sure the music was a little sweeter.

The two hotels are both gone and so is Jay Marr’s saloon. I started to write about in the first place, before being carried away with my dreams of Long Ago.

When my father moved to Colon, after forty-five years of railroad life. He was a lonesome man and bored with the slow and easy life in Colon. So, because he loved to play cards, he found much happiness in going into
Curly’s and playing cards with his friends. I need to stand in back of him and listen to the laughs that they had whenever a good hand came up. Good clean fun, just as it is today. I never heard any cussing or any rough talk in this place in my life. Curly wouldn’t allow it. Now that Ken has taken over he also sees to it that it is a place of fun and no rough stuff. The place got too small to take care of the many nice people who liked to come in, so they took over the building next door where the old Dream-Land Theatre was located.”