Years Spent On A Parking Meter
by Dino Corvino on July 1st, 2013
For a long time I “worked” at Scott Street Steak and Pub. I say worked in quotations just in case the IRS is looking, because well, if you know you know. It was a defining era of my life in which real friendships were created, and a shared experience was had. It was also the most comfortable I have ever been in my entire life.
Tom Bergs owned Scott Street Pub for about 30 years by the time it stopped. Tonight was the anniversary of its last night, so to mark that moment I drove down to the parking lot that sits where the Pub was. I wanted to mark the moment, and it felt great.
I was able to, with little or no question, find the exact spot of the doorway. I looked down the block, to the buildings surrounding it, and with just a little bit of internal sonar I found the spot. From that it was an easy three steps to the place where my parking meter was.
You see, for a long time, I was the doorman. I checked IDs, took the cover (yeah, I know), and was a sort of bouncer. It was a role I loved. During the course of the evening though, I would end up outside, bored, and I would lean against the parking meter. It felt like my spot. In as much as one can have a spot.
Tonight I was thinking about all of the things I did and saw. The friendships and love. I am writing my Scott Street book this year, and am excited as I put it together in a longer form, but I think for those of us who were there, those were golden times. And I do not think that anyone, anywhere ever had it as good as we did.
I am sure everyone says that about what ever place they love.
But, Tom Bergs was a cultural hero in Wausau, and he hardly ever gets any acknowledgement. Did you know Big Bull Falls was born in a conversation in Scott Street Pub? That without that conversation, the longest running blues festival in Wisconsin would not have found a way to be born? Did you know he had live music 4 nights a week, for 30 years? Who else has done that?
I watched Tom grow. And I watched his kids, Molly, Rikki, and Chuck grow. I “bartended” Chuck’s graduation party, where we closed the bar, and took all the booze downstairs, and let his class have a party. When I got there Tom was dating a woman, then he was not, then he married someone else, then he got divorced. I also got to know Tom’s dad Cy. It was amazing.
Having a place that you feel at home is great. Every sort of group of Pub people thought there era was the best. The Todd years, the Danny years, etc, those times were the best. The times before the fire, that was the best. The times after the fire. The Mohawk Matt years.
What I know is that the Pub was awesome. That a good amount of you reading what I write were there, and you have Pub stories that you are either cool with, or you might have some secrets that you do not want to talk about. At least not with anyone who was not there. The Pub keeps your secrets. It always has.
I think I am lucky to have spent those years leaning on that parking meter 4 nights a week. And while my musical snobbery might be outsized, and my hearing damaged, and my sleeping habits forever affected, I saw some shit man. I saw some things that no one else did. Here is a short list.
1. KWS doing scales at 3 am to an empty room.
2. Scott Holt doing jumping jacks in the basement before his encore.
3. I drank tequila out of a bottle in the gutter in front of the bar with Gene Taylor of The Blasters and we talked about Leonard Cohen.
4. Every Blues Fest afterparty.
5. Joe Bonamassa jamming with West Side Andy.
6. Big Jack Johnson singing acapella when the PA went out.
7. Bill Perry(RIP) and Tommy Castro jamming after Blues Fest.
8. Little Blue Crunchy Things just making the crowd into a big mess.
9. Pachinko night, nuf said.
10. Eric Messenberg passing out onstage while playing with the Brain, and the Brain did not even stop.
Honorable mention….The night a great dane ran down the street.
I am sure that the Pub has become iconic in our collective memories, and maybe that is a good thing. Maybe not. But, I am pretty sure it is a good thing.