Way back in the 60’s and early 70’s, when my Mamaw and Papaw lived on the Westside of Dayton on Miami Chapel road, there was a small strip of blue-collar bar & grills just down the block, right across from the large Delco Moraine plant and caddy-corner to George’s Barber Shop.
My cousin Rhonda reminded me what the names might be, and I managed to find them in old Dayton City Directories and Newspapers. Mamaw and Papaw lived at 1010 Miami Chapel, and Matty’s Tavern was right on the corner at 1100 Miami Chapel, and The Sportsman Bar and Grill was next door at 1116 Miami Chapel.
A number of my relatives frequented these watering holes, along with many other factory workers, as they were close to their employment at Specialty Paper and Delco.
In those days, it was not unusual to have a couple of beers for lunch along with a nice greasy burger or patty melt.
My memory doesn’t allow me to fairly rate which was the nicer of the two, but judging by newspaper accounts, the Sportsman seemed to be in the news more for being robbed and robberies performed right outside their premises. These joints could easily be called dive bars, but they were a second home and family for many.
Here’s a shooting in their back parking lot:
They also got shut down:
Both of them advertised for Bar Maids and Porters on a regular basis.
Darkly lit, with multiple neon and spinning bar signs for locally made brews like Bavarian, Wiedemann, Hudepohl, Burger and Schoenling.
TV ads back then were full of beer slogans that made their way to these signs on the walls of the bars. These included:
“Vas You Efer in Zinzinnati? (Burger)
“It’s Too Good To Be Beer” (Little Kings Cream Ale)
“All the Way with 14K” (Hudepohl)
“It’s registered pure” (Wiedemann)
“Bound to Be Better” (Schoenling)
“A Man’s Beer” (Bavarian)
“It’s Happy Hudy Time” (Hudepohl)
Tax returns even show that Mamaw worked at Matty’s for several years, at least from 1956-1959…she may have quit when the owner she knew decided to sell the bar in ’59:
Papaw was one of the grand patrons of both bars after Mamaw stopped working at Matty’s. I think his allegiance may have varied based on where his tab was lower or whichever bar maid was being nicer to him at the moment.
After retiring from Specialty Paper, he was at one or the other quite often, as a man of leisure. As grandchildren of some of their best customers we were fawned over by the bar maids each time we went in, either with papaw or my parents, getting a bottomless fountain coke full of maraschino cherries to spear one at a time with a swizzle stick.
We usually got scooted away from the serious bar talk by being bribed with a few coins to go play the electric shuffle board bowling game or pinball machines in the back. These are the type of games you only see in old “retro” arcades these days, but they were king back in the 60’s.
One time I remember thinking that if a little corn meal made the puck slide better, a whole can should be just the thing to create a rocket-speed puck slide. The bar maids did not agree.
Food was typical greasy-spoon bar food consisting of burgers and patty melts, with maybe a roast beef sandwich and some kind of daily special like meatloaf with a soup of the day. A particular kid favorite was just a big plate of french-fries covered with ketchup.
There were also the usual displays of beef jerky, pretzels & chips, Slim Jims and big jars of pickled eggs and sausages that somehow became appetizing when you were drinking…as long as you didn’t think of how many hands had dipped into the jar.
As times changed, bringing kids into smoky bars became much less socially acceptable, if not illegal, not to mention that we had gotten older and more adventurous and there were a lot more of us to keep watch over.
We were then condemned to sit out in the old blue Chevy station wagon on the street, waiting for mom and dad to finish having their fun. Can you imagine leaving a car full of unsupervised kids outside a bar in West Dayton these days?
The West side eventually got too racially charged and dangerous for the rest of the family to allow mamaw and papaw to continue living there. Pawpaw was mugged walking between the bars and his house, at least twice that I remember, getting beat up pretty bad and hospitalized in one instance, so they eventually moved back down to Moraine, in Miami Shores, where they lived until they both passed away.