Hell’s Half Acre

Shortly after going to bed last night, I thought about my Grandpa Jack, who was Mom’s real father. The thought led to long forgotten memory of the two of us going for a walk along the logging road in the woods above our home.

He and I were talking about how he had lost three bars in the township of Klamath, California due to flooding and one tsunami between 1955 and 1964. After the third loss, the packed up himself and his wife and moved to Salem, Oregon.

In Salem, he took over the Hof Brau Bar and that impressed me. Most folks, including me, I believed would have called it a day and gone looking for something else to do to make a living.

As we walked, I told him this and how I’d like to open a bar one day – maybe with him – when I was old enough. Surprisingly, he didn’t poo-poo the idea, and in fact, said he like the idea.

Being 13 and very naive, I also told him I wanted it to be a ‘cowboy bar,’ and that I even had a name selected; “Hell’s Half Acre.” Grandpa Jack wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of a themed bar or the name and he eventually changed the subject.

Later, after he had headed south to visit my cousin’s in Fortuna, Mom asked what we had talked about on our walk. Once I told her, she was livid, saying, “There is no way you are opening a bar. You’re too young to be thinking about that sort of stuff. You’re jus’ a kid!”

Admittedly wounded, I wandered off to my room to sulk for a while. However, she was right and I promptly forgot about my idea and it was never brought up again.

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About Tom Darby

French-born, American-raised, U.S. citizen, husband, father, friend, veteran, and writer.
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