The Tipsy Pine

I was talking to my sister on the phone Easter Monday, and for some reason, the Tipsy Pine came up in conversation.  Good God, what a dive!

We laughed and laughed at each other’s stories about that place.  The bar was on the east end of Denison.  I doubt it’s still there, and as a matter-of-fact, I know it has to be gone because at one time I lived a block away.  During that period in my life, if there was a bar within walking distance, I was in it.  Cockroaches eating it to the ground, a leaky roof caused from shotgun blasts, or maybe the broken windows in restrooms, led to the bar’s final demise.

Pat told me about throwing a beer in the face of someone there.  “Probably had too many beers,” she told me.  That was a given.  No one went into that particular bar unless they had far too many beers to begin with.  Nonetheless, in defense of my eldest sister, the recipient must have deserved it.  We agreed on that.

My story, based solely on my sometimes-faulty memory, is a bit more extensive.  I was under age, as were most people in there on a late winter or early spring Saturday night.  There was a local band playing that night.  They sucked, but what the hell, it was live music and the place was crowded and loud.  The bar had two doors, one on the south side facing Highway 30, and a back entrance to the north.  We parked in the parking lot in the back, facing the street so that we could roll right out if necessary.  It became necessary.

While the music was getting louder and the crowd was getting denser and drunker, someone broke a beer bottle against the bar.  A fight was about to erupt.  The bartender took a shotgun from behind the bar and fired a warning shot into the ceiling.  Well, you know what’s going to happen after that.  The police were called.  Things didn’t get much quieter until the police actually arrived.

People were running to the two exits to get out of the bar.  Being from Vail, John Devold (who was old enough to be in the bar but rode with me), Mike Ruch – also a minor, and I ran to the women’s restroom.  You don’t go running into the arms of police when they show up.  We must have used Plan B more than we ever thought of using Plan A.  We broke the window because it was stuck, and one of us went outside (it wasn’t me).  We began to help dozens of minor women out the window.  The last one was a hefty girl who almost got stuck in the window, and here I am, inside the women’s restroom, underage, and with a large woman stuck halfway through the window.  I locked the door.  We could hear the cops in the bar and at the two entrances.  Pushing and pulling, we finally got the woman through the window.  The two of us remaining, kept the bathroom door locked as we got through the window with no time to spare.

Outside the bar, by the window, the heavy woman was bleeding.  She cut her finger on the broken glass lying in the grass.  It was a superficial wound, but you wouldn’t have known it from her whining.  That’s when she tells us that she needed a ride home.

We crossed the street and waited for things to calm down.  We snuck up the other side of the street behind houses and came out of the darkness a block north.  The four of us strolled down the street as though we had been out for a pleasant walk on such a beautiful starry night.  I’m sure we fooled the police.

We piled into the Green Latrine and I slowly coasted it out of the parking lot.  It was a 3-speed manual transmission, but the 1st, 3rd, and reverse gears didn’t work.  Second gear was the only gear that worked in that wonderful car.  I did have overdrive, so I could get up to 50 or 60 mph in second gear without hearing the engine work hard.

I was driving and Mike was in the front passenger seat.  John and the woman were in the back, John directly behind me and the woman sitting behind Mike.  She lived on a farm with her parents between Denison and Vail, so we took the gravel back roads home.

Her parent’s farmstead was at the bottom of two very steep hills.  It was also on the vehicle’s right side, the side in which she was sitting.  When we were coming over the crest of the first hill, I told her that because the car had only second gear, I might not make it up the other hill if I have to stop, “so I’ll slow down so that you get out while we’re barely moving.”  BOOM!  The door opened and she jumped out.  “Not now!”  I yelled.  Too late.  John could see her rolling in the ditch.

John or Mike – maybe both – yelled for me to stop.  “I will at the top of the hill,” I assured them.  However, if I had stopped at the bottom or anywhere on the way up the next hill, we were going to have to spend the night between those two hills.

We did make it to the top of the next hill and I shut off the car.  Someone yelled down to her: “Are you all right?”  “Yes,” she answered.  We found out later that she made a perfect stunt woman roll into the ditch and wasn’t even stiff the following day.  I guess her finger was okay, as well.

We continued on the way back to Vail, and at some point, in the next few minutes, the story of The Green Latrine was born.

If you haven’t read my first blog in this 3-year series, this is a good time to read it, or refresh your memory if you have read it.

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