I hitchhiked into town in the spring of 1972. I knew one person here. And that very friend introduced me to an establishment at 195 E. Pioneer. It was known as “The Club Bar Saloon” and owned by a very business-like Alice Cochrane. But beneath her veneer of business was a woman who truly felt a kinship with we “young folks” who were venturing to Alaska. We all learned to love her dearly. The Club provided us with much more than a place to drink, but rather a kind of “community center” where so many of us would meet and share all that needed to be shared. In fact, most of our parents “Outside” had the phone number to The Club to leave messages. And the back bar mirrors were strewn with messages taped thereto.
As a musician, I helped to form a group that came to call the place our home base. Alice decided to sell the business and it was purchased by Billie Bedsworth. We helped Billie add on to the place with a huge room that would become the new stage and dance floor. Then, one winter night in 1977, the place was totally destroyed by fire. My band had played that very night.
And I was still in the building when fire was discovered. But nothing could be done.
But through the efforts of too many to even mention here, the building that stands there today was erected. And on New Year’s Eve 1977 my band was able to open The New Club Bar Saloon.
It seems more than fitting that with the passage of time, it was eventually renamed for the woman who began a tradition. And to think, all of that love and history could be lost forever, just doesn’t seem right.
All my love,