Alums Remember Cabbie’s Tap owners
Jean Anne (O’Brien) Case 1958
I grew up in Ashland but attended Northland and did stay in the dorm one year. I mostly remember spending a lot of time in Cabbie’s because the age to get into a beer bar was eighteen and they had tap beer for a dime. It was a lot of fun meeting others and dancing and not spending a lot of money. I remember scrambling to get back to the dorm by 10 p.m. because the girls had hours (the guys did not). Women wouldn’t stand for that anymore. Also, an added bonus, I met my husband there. He was not a student at Northland. That was in 1955. We have now been married for fifty-seven years and when we come home for Northland reunions, we also spent time at Cabbie’s.
Tom Chvala 1958
As a student from 1955 to 1958 I didn’t go into Cabbie’s very much as I didn’t and don’t drink. But I was a designated driver way back then and would drink Pepsi there. I was there with several Korean War vets. My girlfriend, future wife, Charlotte Guss, went in there with her brother. She was nineteen or twenty and he was eighteen or nineteen. He ordered a beer and she ordered a pop. She didn’t have an ID and the bartender whether it was Ida or someone else wouldn’t serve her because she didn’t have an ID. That got a lot of good play over the years at family get togethers.
Diane Flanders 1959
A few notes. The only bartender who stands out was Cabbie himself. Breunig’s Lager was a Rice Lake, Wisconsin, beer that was always on tap. Cabbie’s delicious, but unusual cheese sandwiches: Beer Kase cheese on rye bread slathered with his famous beer mustard. I met my future husband at Cabbie’s. We were married two years later after I graduated from Northland. Sweetheart couples included: Connie Williams and Jim Junker; Judy Moll and Jim Francois; Diane Emerson and Dick Lee; Ginny Durand and Dan James; Marty Cloutier and Dick Facklam—just to name a few that eventually became wedded couples. On my twenty-first birthday, we had a horrible snowstorm and campus was closed. When my mother tried calling to wish me “Happy Birthday,” she eventually reached me at Cabbie’s–celebrating.
Judy and Jim Francois 1959
Both Jim and I have memories of Cabbie’s. We met at Northland as students and of course spent lots of time there. It was a friendly bar with wonderful sandwiches consisting of foot-long hot dogs and cheese directly from Monroe, Wisconsin. I probably spent more time and money than I should have there but I don’t regret it one bit. And they cashed the checks my father so kindly sent! When home in Milwaukee one time he asked me what Cabbie’s was. When I told him he just laughed. He knew me well. By the way, Jim and I went on to have eleven children. I think my beer drinking kept me sane.
Jerry Shea 1959
I was in Cabbie’s most Friday nights and even a few weekday evenings. My companions included such reprobates as Don Fouts, Bill Schorr, Jack Leitch, Jack Reardon, Jon Kaas, Jerry Thorne, and John Hall. None of us had much money so we drank tap beer, which was only a dime. Cabbie’s was long and narrow with a small dance floor in the back. My memory may be faulty, but I recall that Cabbie was always on duty. He didn’t tolerate loud and obnoxious behavior yet was tolerant.
Our group didn’t do much dating, but girls were always with us. I remember Sue Hoecher compared Cabbie’s to a train station because it was so long and narrow and of course smoke filled.
Other coeds who were often present include Mary Jean Burich, Joanie Marshall, Jeanann O’Brien, and Shirley Farning. The memories are all good perhaps burnished by the passage of too many years. Don Fouts ‘59 I spent numerous evenings at Cabbie’s in the late 1950s, enjoying the beer at ten cents a glass and the fellowship of various Northland College students. I do also remember that the cigarette smoke was so thick that you could almost cut it with a knife.
Glenn Grage 1959
I met my wife’s twin sister, Joanne, at Cabbie’s in the early 1960s. She gave me Dianne’s phone number as I was attending Marquette Dental School in Milwaukee and Dianne worked as a legal secretary in Milwaukee; I called Dianne up, went to a party at an apartment she shared with other girls, and we married a couple of years after I got out of dental school—thanks to a chance meeting at Cabbie’s with her twin sister. My lucky day, as they say.
Justine Speer (attended 1960)
Cabbie’s was the place to go for kids under twenty-one. It was the “student center” in the 50s. We walked there and walked back to the dorm regardless of the weather because most of us didn’t have cars. But we had to be back by curfew—or sneak in the back door with the help of a roommate. How times have changed!
Ken Pacholke 1960
I recall spending many enjoyable evenings at Cabbie’s between 1956-60. In the fall of 1959, I even tended bar at Cabbie’s. As far as Cabbie and Ida, I remember them as hardworking and frugal, and their bar was the cleanest bar I’ve ever seen. They lived above the bar and every morning they would literally clean the entire bar from top to bottom. Cabbie would mop and wax the tile floor every day, clean the beer lines, the glasses, back bar, etc. Regardless of how busy the previous night had been, by the time the bar opened in the morning, it was once again spotless. Of course, none of that mattered much to me at the time, but as one gets older and looks back on one’s life, one tends to remember and appreciate people who went above and beyond what was required of them. This was certainly the case with Cabbie and Ida.
Bob Wilson 1961
I knew Ida well. For two years of my tenure at Northland one of my many jobs was as a bartender at Cabbie’s. This would have been 1959, 1960. At the time one of the many attractions at Cabbie’s was the foot-long hot dog. They had a special pan they used to prepare the hot dogs and one night I accidentally let all the water boil out resulting in the pan burning to the point of being unusable. That was the end of the foot-long at Cabbie’s for several months until I could replace the pan. I know many peers who majored in Cabbie’s. Cabbie’s was an important part of the Northland experience.
LaRae Schauer 1962
The memory that immediately came to mind was the sauce that owner Ida Meyer made to put on her foot-long hotdogs. It was her secret recipe and not available to the public at that time. It was delicious. I have many more memories of going there with classmates and the dancing and socializing. She was always pleasant and welcomed us even though many of us just sipped a tap beer for most of the night. It doesn’t surprise me that she had a long life with her happy-go-lucky ways.
Sandra Jean (Mason) Bean 1963
I fondly remember trekking to Cabbies even through snow storms. Who could get lost if we slogged along using street lights for a guide? I did not do more than sip at a tap beer all night, but the gang of girlfriends I hung out with knew a good time none the less. These ladies include Dorie Waleski (m.Traayholt)Vera Homeskye and Rita Roesler among a few. We were all Delta Pi Theta sorority for the most part. Vera and I still keep in touch even tho she joined the Air Force before graduation. She was so proficient with languages the she translated items for the French professor. I also remember a wild ride back Memorial Hall in the elderly jalopy driven by Mike Erspamer. We drove into a towering middle of the road snowbank before finally stopping.
Howard Paap (attended 1963)
Cabbie’s is where I met my wife-to-be, and after fifty-three years of marriage we still speak of the place. Marlene is a member of the Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe Indians, and because of the chain of events that began with our meeting at Cabbie’s I have recently published a history of the reservation, with its second volume now in the works.
Back then, I was a returning military veteran and had worked as a telephone line man for a few years before deciding to toss it all in and begin college. Northland College was my chosen campus. At the time Cabbie’s was the Northland hangout, and it helped that I took a part-time job at Marv Hunt’s Piggly Wiggly grocery store just a few doors away. In those days “everybody” knew of Cabbie’s.
Ida was always present behind the bar, quiet and smiling. It was Cabbie who would hand-slice the pungent Milwaukee brick cheese for the sandwiches I used to enjoy with my glass of tap beer. At my request he would add a slice of raw onion, all on rye bread. That brick cheese sandwich and a beer was Cabbie’s for me.
I stayed only a year-and-a-half, getting the bug for a much bigger campus. I went on to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, and finally the University of Minnesota. Three degrees later and after thirty years of teaching anthropology we returned back to the region in 2003, now residing in Bayfield.
Jim Hershberger 1965
Every once in a while, Cabbie would spring for a free 10-cent tap. Or sometimes, he would say, “Want a tap? Here you are!” and then tap you on the wrist. I remember Cabbie’s!
Tom Bogess 1965
I met my sweet wife (Karen Revolinksi ‘68) of forty-eight years in the fall of 1964 on a Friday night at Cabbie’s. I bought her a beer, we danced, and the rest is history.
Bob Nelson 1965
Great times at Cabbie’s fifteen-cent taps, twenty-five cents for five songs on the jukebox. No dance license but we danced anyway. Beginning of lots of relationships. Long cold walks back to Mead Hall.
Jo Ellen Bowen Gibeaut 1966
My times at Cabbie’s were spent usually with my girlfriends and our guy friends (not boyfriends). We danced a lot to the jukebox—songs like “The Bird” that merely repeated “Bird, Bird, Bird is the Word.” (My father never understood how we could like such nonsensical music.) Tap beers were ten cents for a small glass and fifteen cents for the larger glass. I was in a vaudeville type production called “Mona Lisa’s Moustache” and my roommate Sandy and I did the opening number to the tune of Baa, Baa, Baa. The lyrics began: From the tables down at Cabbie’s to the breezeway out at Monk’s—baa, baa, baa! Definitely a tribute to the fact that we all considered Cabbie’s a part of Northland life.
Ken Plants AKA Stein 1966
I remember Cabbie’s when Cabbie still owned it and he worked there before it expanded (1963). It was the college hotspot. The college kids went to Cabbies and the “townies” went to the West End although there was no real rivalry it is just where we went.
There was a coin operated bowling machine played with a steel puck that could just be fun or serious. We used to have a group of us that would play and the low score would have to buy everyone a bottle of beer. We were all very good at the game and a low score would be like 296 out of 300.
I worked for Will Johnson, who bought Cabbies in the early 1960s, for about two years. It was a fun job. Busy, but a lot but fun. Most will remember me by a nickname, Stein. Some of my college buddies still use that name when we get together.
There were too many romances to list some lasted only a night or two, others much longer. Tibby and I will be married fifty years in August so ours is one of the longer ones.
Maria Matson 1967
A quick search through old photos and I found this one of dear East Coaster student and friend, Carolyn Hart Rahman (deceased), standing in broad daylight in front of Cabbie’s. We were both freshmen in 1964 and the note on the back of photo reads: “Who would believe she just went inside to buy cigarettes?” Yes, we spent many hours socializing with students from around the country and world at this little beer joint. (Maria Matson is pictured in the photo on the right circa 2002).
Marycharles Meserve 1968
Ah, yes I remember it well. The night Cabbie’s burned and Peter Lamal sat outside on the curb crying as the beer ran down the gutter; Alex Gordon getting walloped after flirting with a “Lusty Gusty” girl and turning to someone next to him and asking who was in the fight; doing the stroll with Chickie DiBaggio and the skate with Eddie Tonkin; Molly Gaines and Jack Connelly having a beer fight. Of course, people told me about this. I was in the Wakefield Library studying.
Mark Travaglini 1969
For Northlanders of a certain era, and most assuredly those of us who were enrolled during the 1960s and 1970s, Cabbie’s was the place to meet up. It was an unremarkable looking, one-story building on Second Street (now Main Street), east of Ellis Avenue.
It had grimy linoleum flooring, cinder-block walls, and a bar that—as one entered—extended along the right wall. As I recall, cartoon art adorned the wall opposite the bar, at the widest portion of the room, where sometimes dancing occurred. I believe a Northland student from Iowa named Mike Evans was the Cabbie’s contributor—drawn in similar style to those created by renowned Mad Magazine artist Don Martin
There were padded, backless stools at the bar and some heavy picnic-type tables with fixed seating in the rear, across from there. There was at least one pinball machine. Lighting was minimal. So were the toilet facilities. I know the men’s loo was located near the entrance, walled in by cinder block, toward the middle of the room. A long, coin-operated bowling machine was just outside that facility, well within a patron’s olfactory zone.
The biggest thing Cabbie’s had going for it was that it was walk-able even on the fiercest of wintry days. The attraction was simple: cheap beer. Ten cents―one thin dime―for a tap. (I soon learned to call for a “tap” rather than a the more familiar term for East Coasters of “draft.”) And one needed only be eighteen years of age to purchase some. The State of Wisconsin allowed for the establishment of “beer bars” in those days, where being eighteen allowed you to be issued a particular ID for that purpose, entrée to the sophisticated world of beer drinking. To be sure, some out-of-staters were able to drink legally back home when they became eighteen, but it was still an emblem of one’s supposed maturity to have that Wisconsin ID in your back pocket. In and around Ashland, a veritable cornucopia of bars, one could choose from among several that catered to our demographic. Cabbie’s advantage was proximity.
Many Northland’ers got to know one another there. We mixed with “townies” too, although there might occasionally be some tension. Some of us Northland’ers even became romantically involved with one another at Cabbie’s. Imagine that.
The aforementioned bowling machine was popular. For the game of course, but also because it was somewhere to sit. Seating was at a premium in Cabbie’s once night fell. And so it was one evening when I was looking to bowl a bit. But there was a problem ― a Northland coed was perched upon it, legs crossed, dangling over the edge, effectively screening the pins from the heavy, chrome-plated puck that served as the bowling ball. I recall asking her to move, probably in the manner of any Eastern’er accustomed to attending sporting events. Which is to say, bluntly and sarcastically. But if Cabbie’s after dark was anything, it was loud, and perhaps she didn’t hear me. Or was ignoring me. Clearly, bolder action would be necessary. Face-to-face confrontation. But this particular face was one I found disarming. She was capable of a dazzling smile and a pretty snappy put-down. Which only spurred me on, to the point where I asked Dana Laylin to go out with me. On a date. (A fraternity hayride, it turned out.) Well, she accepted my invitation. I got my money’s worth out of the bowling machine. We became an item and whaddya know, forty-eight years later, we’re still together. Yes, we now have two children, four grandchildren, and an uncountable supply of memories together. Thanks Cabbie’s.
Audrey Durand Gresham Moore 1967
Cabbie’s was an extension of Northland College in the 1960s. Friday and Saturday nights it would be packed! An empty barstool or coveted booth was hard to find. I think I remember that tap beer was ten cents a glass. Heineken beer or “green beetles” as we called them were probably fifty cents. The beer was always very cold. I remember that you could order a thick slice of cheese with mustard on it, and beer nuts and Slim Jims were always available. The jukebox always had the latest songs and I remember learning to dance the “Twist” and “Mashed Potato” there. Beatles music was very popular during that time. When Kennedy was assassinated, Northland closed down and many students migrated down to Cabbie’s. I remember watching the news of Kennedy’s assassination and the ensuing events for days it seemed like. On visits back to Northland, we would pass by Cabbie’s and it seemed much smaller than I remembered.
George Fink 1969
I graduated in 1969 when Cabbie’s was the only place to go in town. I dated a lovely girl from town—Susan Malmberg—her father owned Malmberg’s jewelry store and I worked part time at a clothing store on Main Street. Susan and I used to go to Cabbie’s all the time along with other Northland students. There was a bouncer at Cabbie’s whom everyone was afraid of because he was mean and tough (wish I could remember the name but maybe someone else will). Anyway, every now and then, some Northland guy who thought he could take the bouncer and found out he couldn’t—I think the bouncer was undefeated in all the years I attended Northland. I had a 1953 Ford Sedan with a flat head V8 engine that I had customized. Upon leaving Northland I sold the Ford to the bouncer who paid me $300 cash. It was a great car but I decided not to try driving it back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The bouncer got a great deal.
Marcy and Peter Millett 1969
Cabbie’s was a wonderful place back in the day. I walked in there in the fall of 1965 (probably with Stu and Barney) and “Hang on Sloopy” on the jukebox. Every time I hear that song I think of Northland, Cabbie’s, and the good times we all had there. I do recall that it was “nickel night” on Monday nights. Five-cents for an eight-ounce glass of Blatz. I still have two eight-ounce Blatz glasses that I borrowed from Cabbie’s back in the day. Probably should return them at some point in time. Not.
Stu Goldman 1969
Cabbie’s in the 60s was the spot on Wednesday nights when the bands from Superior and Duluth came.
Samuel D. Polonetzky 1970
January 1968, 8 a.m.—a heavy snow caused Sheriff Courroto to declare, “All roads in Ashland County closed!” I thought northern Wisconsin laughed at winter snow. Dean [of students] Davies quickly declared the College and campus closed.
10 a.m.—A phone call went out to Cabbie’s. “Are you open?”
“If you can get here, we are open! But our parking lot and the street are full with snowdrifts.”
“We will find a way!”
11 a.m.—Northland’s war surplus Caterpillar D-3 bulldozer went missing. It hadn’t been run in ages. Within an hour an eight foot lane appeared in Ellis Avenue from the Memorial Hall back drive to Second Street and east on Second Street from Ellis Avenue to Cabbie’s plowed lot. The friendly Cat-skinner and crew drank for free till closing. The Cat sat for a few days. In the summer of 1969, the name was changed from Cabbie’s to Babe’s (although none of us used the new name.) It was still Babe’s on the end of May 1970 as I drove away with my hard won diploma.
Andrea (Andersen) Nelson 1970
Cabbie’s was the place to gather especially on the weekends to meet people we did not know or hang out with good friends. The big attraction was the 10-cent Blatz beer drafts. One dollar went a long way in those days for a college student. I came from Massachusetts, a state that did not permit drinking until the age 21 in bars. I found the 18-year-old beer bars of Wisconsin quite the experience. I learned my limits and tolerance for beer—and have not drank beer since! I met Kurt at Cabbie’s on a Friday afternoon in 1966. I was siting at the bar with a couple of friends and Kurt came into Cabbie’s with a couple of friends. Kurt finally made his way over to the bar and we became acquainted. That began a life long relationship. We were married in 1969 and will celebrate 46 years together in August 2015. We have two daughters and five grandchildren and now live in East Bethel, Minnesota. We still keep in touch with friends from Northland and Ashland and have been to a couple of reunions.