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BY MIKE AVITT
The newspapers don’t often carry news about taverns but there were bits and pieces. When I combine that info with beer permit applications, which were published in the City Council proceedings, I get a partial story.
This week’s photo is not in good focus but I can see Red Lamb’s Tavern at 111 N. Taylor and a “Country Club” beer sign out front. J. H. Smith and C. D. Lamb bought this bar in 1939 from Ray Peterson. Lamb and Smith were granted a Class B beer permit in 1939. This building was Snow White Bakery before it became a tavern. Bill Buell had a barber shop in the south room.
Red Lamb moved his tavern to 115 N. Taylor about 1961. South Side Tavern was always in the same location.
Walter Dorn bought Jack’s Place, a cafe and confectionery, in 1921 and the location was 103 W. Monroe. Sometime after Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Dorn began selling beer at his cafe. Percy “Push” Skinner bought the cafe in 1939 and the business went under the names of Mount Ayr Beer Tavern and Skinner Tavern. In the 1940s, the business began to be called Skinner & Sheil Tavern as Percy’s son-in-law, Linn Sheil, came into the business. The first time I found the term South Side Tavern was in 1952.
For a time, many cafes sold beer. “Mutt” Holland sold beer in his cafe at 122 S. Taylor. Orr Seaton briefly served beer at his Ritz Cafe, 108 E. Madison, and Mick Snedeker sold beer at the Ritz after he bought it in 1942.
I saw many beer permits issued in the 1940s that I can’t explain. In September 1946, Clinton, “Whitey,” Rice was given a refund on his beer permit but I don’t know where he used it. Elmer Motsinger was granted a beer and cigarette permit in February 1945 and, again, I don’t know what business this was for. Mr. Motsinger bought a pool hall in 1948 but I know of no business before that.
The August 3, 1950 Record-News reports a beer permit was issued to Vern Stringham. In the same edition I saw the last ad for Vern’s Cooper’s Feed business in the old blacksmith shop where the fire station is now. The time-frame was perfect for Vern to be the originator of the tavern now known as Lefty’s. But I just don’t know.
I found evidence of one tavern before Prohibition was repealed. A man named Homer Johnston bought the Linn Tavern in August of 1931 at 112 E. Madison (Hayes building). It was legal to sell non-alcoholic beer (near beer) during Prohibition. One year later, Mr. Johnston was arrested for bootlegging in Lincoln Township. So that’s how that ended.
Obra Davis obtained a beer permit in 1935 and I assume it was for the Watterson Store which he and his wife operated but I failed to see an application for a renewal.
I have previously written about the Liberty Spring Lake Athletic Club in Liberty Township, a resort and drinking establishment located three miles north and four miles east of Mount Ayr. This club operated from 1934 to 1936 and I have additional information which I’ll share soon.