Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Quintessential Wisconsin April 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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Cabin Bar and Grill, Coloma

The Cabin Bar & Grill in Coloma, Wisconsin.

Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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21 Responses to “Quintessential Wisconsin”

  1. Dan Traun Says:

    Al may be lonely 🙂

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Did you go in? Have a meal?? Enjoy the cabin feel??

  3. Yup. That definitely looks like a Wisconsin establishment!

  4. I agree Al must be lonely and needs a name after & on the sign! Charming Place. Happy Weekend – Cheers:)

  5. Sweet Posy Deams Says:

    Was just thinking about a little day jaunt up to Wisconsin this weekend, but not quite so far north. Was thinking of Cedarburg, ever been there? We’ve driven right past it on the way to Sheboygan, but never gone into town. I’ve heard it’s quite picturesque.

  6. hotlyspiced Says:

    What a gorgeous building. I can imagine that in the winter it would be lovely to step inside and get away from the cold xx

  7. Deb Says:

    Greetings from the land down under the frozen tundra, also known as; CONNECTICUT, land of repaired frozen water pipes, newly shorn hydrangea bushes, and irregular roads:

    I’m enjoying your series of finding restaurants and places along your way, Audrey. We have myriad places like The Cabin around here too, local mom and pop eateries; restaurants and bars.Lots of clam shacks and lobster stands too. I have always enjoyed finding these fine roadside establishments, and have hunted out the more unusual ones. Like your corner of the globe, our local eateries seem to slow down and some also close during winter. My love of going to these places began when my long-ago boyfriend (who was my best friend growing up) moved out of Connecticut to go to Grad School in Ohio, and then moved to other states in his early employment. We did not stay together, but oh, while we were, it was a lot of fun visiting each other back and forth.

    We made a kind of hobby over searching for the weirdest, lowly, beat-up establishments where ever we happened to be; Connecticut, Ohio, then the east side of Chicago, then Wilkes-Barre, PA, then somewhere in the Poconos. Oh, the joys of all those back road “Sneaky Pete’s!” we found! Here, it’s necessary to define this term for you–as that is what my mom and dad called a certain favorite watering hole of my Uncle Pete’s.

    Legend has it that Uncle Pete was trying to avoid being seen at a bar by his girlfriend, now his wife of over 40 years. It was his down-time before he cleaned up, had supper at my grandmother’s house, and then spent the evening with Jeannie. After a day of building homes he’d park his truck out back behind Rainbow Garden, which was the bar’s real name. It was just far enough from the center of the town where we all lived, but apparently not far enough to escape being seen if not by Jeannie, then everyone else who happened to drive by on their way home from work. He owned a distinctive big black pick-up with a ladder rack on top and it was a dead give-away. It was either that, or the “Peter J. Thomas Built Homes” sign on the tailgate. But, even if you didn’t see the truck, there was always someone in town who knew he was there. Uncle Pete never had a drinking problem at all, just that he had an ice cold beer on the way home sometimes. Just one. He’s almost 80 and still builds houses too.

    So as I matured and was able to drink beer and buy my own airplane ticket depending on where the boyfriend was, or hop in my car during summer vacation from college, or later, while I was a gainfully employed poster-child for the insurance industry in downtown Hartford, Connecticut—I would gear up for a weekend visit with the boyfriend. No matter if he was visiting here or I was there; we’d hit the road hunting down the dive-bars and our own version of those Sneaky-Pete’s.

    I know some boyfriend/girlfriend dates revolve around going out to eat, and maybe a movie, or to walk along beaches, or taking in city-scape with shopping and event hopping, but we weren’t like that. We were both musicians and loved to find a place to go see a band and dance. Usually, there would be some “good eats,” at these places, too. I mean, this girl wanted some good-local food along with her excitement!

    What fun we had in Berwyn, Illinois being chased by a couple who wanted to wife-swap! What a thrill we had going into an all women/lesbian bar(*) after getting drenched at a Milwaukee Irish Fest one summer! How exciting a time it was for us to wander into a Hell’s Angels kind of place when we had to dodge a flying beer bottle one night while at humid humid humid Miami University, in Oxford, OH. Before we realized it, I was drinking Tequila and agreeing to a motorcycle ride by someone named T-Rex because I was wearing a UCONN t-shirt and they didn’t like northerners. But, it was cool with T-Rex if I changed from my shorts into jeans in the ladies room first. No trouble…and while I was there I also found a window through which I silently slipped into the waiting arms of my hyperventilating boyfriend pulling my arms out of their sockets running for his car

    I believe we were in near cardiac arrest over that one.

    Oh well; the saying goes, “…that which does not kill us only serves to make us scream stronger while flooring an old Buick along some Smokey and the Bandit type back road out of town.” After we stopped screaming (total freak out situation, defcon 5 time, rapid chanting of Greek Orthodox and Catholic prayers), we nearly peed our pants laughing.

    Those days have passed into hilarious memories, now–but besides the excitement which seemed to follow the boyfriend and I around, we did manage to have some great times searching out these places. These days, my husband and I (the boyfriend just could not commit after all those years of following him around) end up having cheap date night sometimes, heading to the coast about 10 miles away.After the winter that blanketed the northern half of the United States, I’m ready to bust out of this joint tonight because it was nearly (gasp!) 50 degrees today and I think-maybe, just maybe-the peepers will start tonight? Unless they are still wearing long johns and silently saying,”Too soon! Too soon!”

    But, It is almost time to start cruising around town on the back of my husband’s motorcycle asap, after that winter.Yes, he’s got a bike. Not like he’s a gnarly-leather-biker-kind of guy, he’s a normal dad kind of guy who likes his nice comfy old bike. I’ve found that it is also a fitting way to see the sights while resurrecting my old dive-bar hunting hobby mindful of course—to always keep an eye out for a bathroom with a low window and you-know-who. Well, you never know; he’s out there somewhere.

    with love from the land of no more snow,
    T-Rex’s old soul mate–deb

    (* absolutely nothing at all wrong about going into that bar, just that it was not apparent to us until I was asked to dance by another woman, and I said yes she was apparently with someone else and astute boyfriend clued me in while we were hot-footing it out of THAT bar too.)

    • What an interesting life you have led. I absolutely loved reading about your adventures. You are a storyteller in every definition of that word. I think your Uncle Pete would be proud. Is proud, I bet.

      You totally get it about appreciating those Sneaky Pete’s places.

      Thank you, thank you for this entertaining read.

  8. Deb Says:

    PS to Al: I saw that you have an opening. Sorry, I’m taken!


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