I attended Northland in the early 2000 and as a student and later an alum, I played softball and pool for the Stagecoach Bar for several years. This was my spot. This is where I went, and I had no idea the rich history these walls held.
I was surprised and delighted in 2015 to learn more about Stagecoach’s history, back to its original owners when it was called Cabbie’s Tap. As the director of alumni relations and annual giving, I received in the mail a generous gift of $200,000 for student scholarships. The money was from original bar owners Ida and Cabbie Meyer with the note, “Those kids were always good to us.”
And it’s true, they were. We heard countless stories from alumni as news of this gift was featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
We began collecting stories from alumni and learned how important this place was in their Northland experience. We received stories of a long, smoke-filled bar with padded backless seats. Heavy, heavy, picnic tables in this small bar for seating. And apparently, a 4×4 dance floor where people learned to do the twist and the mashed potato.
We learned of block cheese sandwiches and Ida’s special sauce. There are debates about whether they were on rye or wheat. Of course, we heard about 10 cent taps and how a dollar went a heck of a long way back then in the night of a college student’s life.
There were footlong hotdogs. Fistfights. And, of course, finding love. Many stories from alumni who stayed married for 50+ years after meeting one fated night, right here.
The story of the gifts and of the stories we collected spread, and it wasn’t long before Sue Martinsen came knocking at my door with this idea of a mural. She pored over our Wedge yearbooks and brought our stories to life.
This timeline of Cabbies, Babe’s, O’Brien’s, and the Stagecoach is magic. To see these memories brought to life on this building is a greater gift than Ida or Cabbie could have ever imagined.
On behalf of Northland College and our thousands of alumni, we would like to extend a thank you to the mural committee, to Sue Martinson and her talents, to Stagecoach owners Nancy and Ron Sztyndor’s indomitable spirit to make things happen, and to all those who made this mural possible.
Ashland’s murals share our proud history with our residents and visitors. This one has special meaning as it shows Northland College’s shared history with the city of Ashland. Located at 315 Main Street East, I invite everyone to enjoy the bar-side view.