– memories of a man getting older –

Bar Memories

November 13th, 2011 · 5 Comments

Yulan Hotel Bar

Memories can have a subtle, soft joy that is paradoxically accompanied with a touch of salty bitterness.

I’m looking at a newly acquired postcard that shows the inside of the bar at the Yulan Hotel. The image recovers decorating details I had forgotten.

The bar is long, made of wood, and carries the shine and amber color of aged shellac. The bar stools have round seat cushions, about 5 inches thick, covered in red vinyl with white pipping. The stools have four chromium legs that, rather than going straight from cushion to floor, flair out in an “s” curve near the bottom to create a wider, more stable platform. There is an upper chromium ring connecting the four legs on the inside for strength and a lower chromium ring connecting the four legs on the outside creating a foot rest. They are lined up in front of the bar like customers waiting to be served. They stand in military formation, in silence.

I had forgotten about the mounted deer head just inside the entrance way, hanging from the wall of beautiful golden colored wainscoting. Next to the deer head are the classic wood block type posters. I remember the one that would shout out about roller skating. Past the deer head are two doors to the bathrooms. Between them stands an unfamiliar object. It’s too tall to be a jukebox and besides, I know the jukebox resided at the opposite end of the room. I can’t recall what this is or make out what it is from the postcard.

There are plain wooden tables draped with white tablecloths. The tables are partnered with chairs that match the style of the bar stools. Looking closely though, one sees that the tables carry a variety of chairs, including different wooden styles. Uniform decor was not a concern.

On the wall hang some signs. I know these! They spoke to the food available from the kitchen: wonderfully thick, hand-formed burgers, homemade meatball subs, and sausage sandwiches. Anne Boza sure knew how to cook! Burgers and sandwiches would come out of the kitchen until closing. Boots (Anne’s son) and I would often charge into the bar late in the evening to devour one of Anne’s servings.

The ceiling was low and this created a confined if not intimate feeling to the area. It was the old pin cushioned noise absorbing tiles that also absorbed all the smoke from the cigarettes that were so popular at the time. If the place wasn’t glamorous it made up for it by being comfortable, unpretentious and friendly.

The last time I was at Washington Lake this bar was the only building that remained of the group of buildings that made up the Yulan Hotel. At one time there was the main house (the building the Boza’s used as their home), the main hotel for guests; two buildings where the help stayed; and a small cottage on the lake’s edge. The bar had been turned into a private residence and looked run down and unloved. Being brick it withstood this neglect and the passing of time. The other structures had been constructed of wood and could not endure neglect. I think I heard that the main hotel burned down, or was purposely set afire for practice by the local fire department. Either way it was a cremation.

I wonder how the current dwellers manage, moving about amongst all the ghosts, surrounded by decades of past laughter and joys. I wonder if they ever see a shadow, feel a presence, hear soft laughter or smell hamburgers cooking. Do they wake to the new day and pause over a cup of coffee, attention focused, wondering what this odd, bittersweet feeling that lightly touches their being could possibly be?

I find it difficult (or is it uncomfortable?), to believe the joys of others now past are simply gone, no longer of consequence. Can places that are so special to so many simply fall into disrepair and slip unnoticed into annihilation? Isn’t it possible that as surely as a place is hallowed by bravery and bloodshed it can be hallowed by joy and laughter?

Tags: Washington Lake

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dickie // May 30, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Past the deer head are two doors to the bathrooms. Between them stands an unfamiliar object. It’s too tall to be a jukebox

    The cigarette machine….of course.

  • 2 Dickie // May 30, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    I used to “borrow” a row boat from the rental location in front of the Washington Lake Casino and row over for one of their great meatball or sausage sandwich, late at night. One of my many food stops. Another was the wonderful square hamburger at the Washington Lake casino, cooked my Marie Rottermann,(the owners wife). She would wrap it in wax paper with a few pickle slices some how wrapped in but not touching the burger.

  • 3 ANNE MARIE // Aug 15, 2012 at 2:31 am

    Spent many summers up here at Washington Lake. Need to see it again. I also need to find a place to stay, I don’t know what’s left. Email me if you have any help for me.

  • 4 ANNE MARIE // Aug 15, 2012 at 2:35 am

    My brother, Tim Littlefield, worked here a few summers. I would say in the 1970’s. When Elsie owned it.

  • 5 Beth Gray // Feb 8, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    My family spent many summers in Yulan. My Aunt and Uncle Herb and Edna Tierney ran a bar I think it was called the Park Rd and my Aunt Ethel ran the big Hotel on Washington Lake but again I can’t remember what it was called. This was during the 60s and 70s and we all enjoyed the bands at the Casino. Those were amazing long lazy summers full of amazing memories.

Leave a Comment