2 Ditties from Wendy (Phillips) Deal  Early 1970's

My mom decided to come out to southern cal to visit me.  I had written to her about working at the Oar and about all the good times I was having.  Mom and I didn't get along very well, so it really mattered to me to show her a good time.  A couple days before mom arrived I went into Buffalo Chips.  I'd been sick that week, and almost the minute I got into Chips, the heat and the beer smell hit me and I felt faint.  I made it to the bathroom and passed out, cutting open my forehead on the sink.  I was taken out of Chips on a stretcher (SO embarrassing) and got stitched up at the hospital.  So when I picked up my mom at the airport I had a black and blue forehead and a butterfly bandage over the stitches, and had to tell her I had passed out at a bar.  

Once I knew I'd be taking mom to the Oar, I told Jenx NOT to say "fuck" around my mom.  Mom really disliked that word, and Jenx really liked using it.  Mom and I walked in to the Oar on a weekday night, and there was Jenx in a booth in the back.  I introduced them and Jenx stood up, took my mom's hand, kissed it and said how glad he was to meet her and hoped she'd have a good visit and hoped he'd see a lot of her.  Then he asked her if she'd care to sit down and could he buy her a drink.  A few minutes later a couple of friends walked over to meet my mom and when they got to the table, Jenx abruptly stood up, and loudly said "HEH, DON'T SAY FUCK AROUND WENDEE'S MOM.  HER MOM REALLY HATES THE WORD FUCK".  My mom kind of sputtered, and then laughed like crazy. 

My relationship with my mom changed that night.  We still had many rough years ahead of us, but it was that night at the Oar that I saw my mom as a three dimensional person.  That night I saw her as being someone in addition to being a mom.  At the Oar House, I learned that my mom was fun and she was a good sport and all my friends at the Oar liked her.  I was prepared to leave the Oar after an hour or so, but mom was having such a good time that we stayed until closing.  One of the guys asked mom to dance, and from then on she was up dancing most of the evening. A slow song played and I remember mom challenging the guys to dance slow with her, telling them that she had danced their way and now it was their turn to dance her way.  Mom knew that I usually went out to breakfast after the Oar closed, so she insisted we join the group going to Denny's for breakfast.  I remember mom and me walking into my apartment, laughing, at 3:30am.

and then, and then....

Sometimes I worked at Buffalo Chips.  For awhile, Rusty Hamer would sit next to my station at the bar.  Rusty Hamer was the cute little curly haired kid in the tv program, Make Room For Daddy, starring Danny Thomas, which was on the air from 1953 - 1965.  Rusty was born in 1947, so at the time he was in the bar, he was about 25 years old.  Rusty was a nice guy who seemed lonely and sad.  Each time I would go to the station to yell an order to the bartender, Rusty would talk to me about the screen play he was writing.  He would tell me a little of it each time I was at the station, and then he'd ask me what I thought.  I had no clue about screen plays and I could barely hear his description of the screen play with all the Buffalo Chips noise.  I offered to take home the script to read it, but he didn't go for that.  I think what he really wanted was someone to talk to.  Rusty killed himself in 1990.  When I heard the news I wasn't surprised. 

I have several scars from my years at the Oar House.  One night I was working the beer wagon and was very drunk.  With mixed drinks costing only 35 cents, it didn't take much out of my tips to get drunk.  I leaned forward to give a customer a beer, and I leaned too far forward, and fell part way out of the wagon.  I have a faint 1-1/2" scar on the under side of my wrist as a reminder of that night.  I had a sign taped to a beer pitcher that said something like "I need tips to help my roommate pay for her abortion".  It wasn't true, but I did get really good tips that night. 

For awhile I dated John Shields, one of the bartenders.  There was a very nasty girl who liked to flirt with John when he and I worked the same shift.  She'd hang out at his station and she'd make sure I saw her coming on to him.  At least once a night during the shift, she'd order a dark beer from me, in a very condescending way.  I'd just smile and go to the bartender I was working with, frequently Bob, and I'd order a glass of spillage for her.  I'd give her the spillage, take her money and the TIP, and I'd look forward to her next order.

OK Wendee, here's a typical night for me at the Oar  1975

One evening I was training a new manager named Timmy Keene…his first night on the job.  I had him do the beer box count and he left the outside beer box door open.  A truck camper was backed up to the door and the driver decided to help himself.  As he was leaving  Timmy saw his hasty exit into the street and ran after him opening the driver door.  The driver slammed on the brakes throwing Timmy into the street and spilling 3 kegs down 2nd avenue.  The Oar was closing and there were many people in the back parking lot.  I was just about across the street from the office with the breakage replacements when the guy driving, floors it,  aiming for me almost on the Chips curb.  Somebody yelled "Clark stop him!".  I put the crate down on the sidewalk grabbed the first bottle I saw…Courvoisier, and fast balled it into the front windshield at point blank range.  We phoned the police who minutes later apprehended the guy going the wrong way down Venice Blvd.  Wasn't hard to ID him, the bottle smashed his windshield and the booze was all over him.  Days later after I wrote up the daily log sheet I was summoned to a board meeting upstairs.  I was commended for my actions and reprimanded for not using good judgment by not selecting something less expensive like Smirnoff Vodka. 

 Clark Merritt

A Recollection from Shannon Burke  1989-91

II remember a great Scanlon story. We were in the Oar House for an employee meeting, it was a Sunday @ noon. Everyone was hungover. in the middle of the meeting a canoe hanging from the ceiling started to move. It startled everyone, I remember some girls screaming. Then Scanlon's head pops up. He had been in there all night.

I was riding in his car once & he asks, "wanna stop for a drink" I say yes. He pulls over, opens his trunk & makes me a gin & tonic from his "trunk bar" complete with ice & a lime garnish.

2  Puckering Atwill Moments 1975

I have so many it rivals the Old Testament

I always thought Joe and I were pretty good friends.  I was even willing to forgive him for verbally assaulting Malibu Judge Merrick when we were sneaking in to Pt. Dume to surf and were accidently caught by the Judge and two Malibu Sheriffs.  When loudly asked by the Judge what the hell we were doing, Joe pushed up his crooked black frame glasses and proceeded to tell him he was the son of a California Congressman and should carefully watch his tone of voice.  He then read the Judge the riot act about how he ( the Judge), a local resident. was breaking the law by illegally restricting access.  Ray Gann & I were frozen with fear as the 2 Deputies were reaching for their cuffs.  The Judge screamed "Get out of here and never let me catch you here again."  Joe was about to reply but Ray and I grabbed his arms, groveled a thank you to the  Judge and left.  It was a quiet ride back to Santa Monica.

A  year later I was debating inviting Joe to my wedding  but was afraid of what he could do to the straight guests...AKA my parents, 2 right winged Huckabees from Alabama.  I finally sat him down & told him if he behaved, ironed his clothes, combed his hair and no funny business, he could come.  He assured me he would abide by my wishes.  Several hours into the wedding reception I see  a well groomed & dressed Joe, talking to my parents.  I almost passed out from fear.  As I made my way toward them, I could hear Joe pontificating to them on how much of an inspiration I had been in his life.  I listened for several  minutes as Joe went on and on with the accolades.  Just as I began to relax, it happened...Joe suddenly stopped and said "but isn't it a pity?"  my Mom asks "what?" Joe head down and shaking replies..."that he's suffering from a castration complex."  My mother dropped her champagne glass on the floor as my father whisked her away whispering.  "Now honey that's why we don't live here anymore."  Joe turns and looks at me, now wide-eyed, mouth agape and says..."Lovely day for a wedding, don't you think?"  Somehow we remained friends. 

Clark (nearly castrated by fear) Merritt

Jimmy's real bad thang & a dinner with my In-law's 20 years later

Like every Oar story this one is bizarre..kinda goes without saying.  Jimmy B was a Doorman & a friend. During a time in 1972 he lived in the closet under the stairs in our apt. in Santa Monica with his black lab Chelsea.  Yes it was a tight fit but a single mattress fit perfectly.  Our place was an Oar House flophouse as there was always some employee(s) hanging out.  One night at the Oar somebody slipped Jimmy a little something in his drink.  It was about 6PM in the evening.  Now remember this was the early 70's.  It didn't agree with him and in an elevated state of mind he decided to strip naked and stand in the back parking lot of the Oar/BC greeting the customers.  There were about 5 of us working that were Jimmy's friends. We all  tried to convince him to put his clothes back on and all we got were lumps for it.  We started taking shifts but to no avail.  After some unfortunate antique auto carnage, acting Manager Alan Christian said we had to bring in the SMPD.  That was a very tense situation for all of us because Jimmy would not cooperate.  Finally an officer maced him (and me) and it was soon all over except the crying (me).  We picked up Jimmy from a hospital in the east valley at about 2 in the morning.  Jimmy, a decent chap at heart was devastated at what he had done.  I remember in addition to the auto damage there were a lot of torn clothes that night.  Jimmy made good though, all the way around.

Its now 25 years later in Thousand Oaks and I am having dinner with my future in-laws and their neighbors.  In those awkward opening moments at the table my fiancé's mother says  "Oh Herb, our neighbor is a retired SMPD officer".   I laughed and said "oh we've probably met as I was a manager at the Oar House.  He says, " I hated to respond to calls at that place.  My worst situation ever involved restraining a naked man with mace in the parking lot.  I blurted out...."and you maced me too, I was standing right behind him - cried like a baby for 30 minutes."  Everyone at the table was horrified.  Herb & I just laughed it off.   It was a quiet dinner after that.  My fiancé asked me to never bring it up again.

Absolutely no relevance to the story - I was hit with 42 cream pies in the Oar House on my 24th birthday  I looked like the abomidible snowman.   I was then stripped naked put in the Chips kitchen sink, hosed off and given an orange tutu with a ruffle to finish the evening.  I believe I had been drinking - Clark Merritt

Damn, OK just one more..............

A Tribute to David Baumgardner's Double Dawg Dare (wherever you are)

Our GM was ill and DB & I had to work the day shift together.  I did the books, DB ran Chips.  It was not a cake walk day.  At 6PM the relieving night manager came in (late) and DB & I headed for the Oar to relax and have a beer.  After doing a pitcher, DB looks at me and says …"lets go have a beer somewhere else".  I said "where, somewhere else?" hoping he didn't mean the Circle Bar.  "Saint James Infirmary in San Jose" he says.  This was the classic DB double dawg dare.  I felt good about winning this one and said "OK".  He says "be ready in 5 minutes and goes to call the bar to arrange a pickup in SFO.  Next thing I know we're on a PSA flight north.  The guys at the St. James, our sister bar, picked us up and we drank all night.  The crew hung with us and I think we even bagged a couple of waitresses.  It was great to visit another store..you were always treated like royalty. At 9AM the next morning we were eating a burger breakfast at the bar and Dave says…"Lets go have a beer"…I said "where?"…he says "Fanny Anns in old Sacramento".  At noon we were on another PSA flight and by 3pm we were still drinking, now at another sister bar.  At 9PM Dave says "lets go have a beer" I say "where?" he says "…if we hurry, we can make last call at the Oar House".  We did,  and left a wake of very pissed off airline employees in our wake.  It took 3 days to recover…but it was worth it…I never backed down.  

I'd love to tell you the one about DB, a bottle of scotch, dancing the watusi on the chips bar with a Von's checker, but I think Rip Van Flannery has finally woke up and wrote a ditty...now where's Baralt's theme paper?  BARALT get in here!

Who's Next ya scallawags?                                              

On to Page 2 of the tallest tales ever told

OK, I know this isn't a dyed in the wool Oar House story but the Oar House is in it...so until we can get a hold of the good stuff...enjoy.  I bet you can do better.  I know you can.  Hell, I can!  Let me introduce you to Armadillo Dave - ex-patron and in the parse collective to have seen Miki Dora in France.