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Friday, June 21, 2013

#2034 - Littlerock Tavern, Littlerock, WA - 2/10/2013

While driving to pick up a taxidermy wahoo, I stumbled upon the Littlerock Tavern, in Littlerock, Washington, just southwest of Olympia. Littlrock is one of those places that is well off the major highways and not on the route to any other real destination. So there are probably very few non-regulars who drop in at the tavern, and as I found out later from a friend who lives in the area, the afternoon crowd is significantly different from the evening crowd. When I walked in and sat down at the bar, the five old guys sitting there all stopped talking and stared at me. Four of them eventually started talking among themselves again, but the guy in the red shirt kept staring a me for pretty much the entire 45 minutes or so I spent there -- looking at me with that exact expression in the photo I discretely snapped with my phone.

The brown paper bags contain hardboiled eggs because it was egg day. On egg day, you can buy an egg for $.25, and in addition to the egg itself, there's a little sticker on each egg that tells you how much you get discounted off your drink. The bartender knows exactly how many drinks and how many eggs each of the locals wants, so she pops their little bag in front of them as soon as they sit down.

With my bar project, every now and then I'll step into places where people have the immediate sense I don't belong. Sometimes I'm the only white person, the only straight person, the only white collar person, or the only person who doesn't come in every day. Sometimes people just seem surprised you're there, sometimes they make it clear they don't think you should be there. But the thing about these places, is pretty much every time, if you don't act like a jackass, make a joke or two, and join in the conversation without shoving yourself in, people almost always warm up to you and eventually seem to welcome you.

I had to ask about the bags -- no one volunteered the egg day details. I bought two eggs and they were both labeled $.25. As I headed out to hit the road, I noted, well, I guess I have a perfectly even lifetime record for egg day, and the guy who'd been glaring at me the whole time gave out a loud, friendly laugh. I'm not at all sure of this, but I believe that if I'd had another hour to spend there, we probably would have had a friendly chat. Sometimes you just have to give people a little time.

Historical notes: Europeans began settling in the area known as "Little Rock" in the 1850s. There is, apparently, an actual rock after which it was named. The still unincorporated community was platted in the 1890s, while it was temporarily called "Viora," and now includes a post office, grade school, upholstery shop, expresso stand, two churches, a gas station / grocery store, a posse hall, and the Littlerock Tavern. (Hillbilly Beans). When I asked how long the Littlerock tavern had been around, the bartender say "Really, really old -- early 1900s." But I haven't seen any primary sources or nor artifact of any kind. So I'd love to find a bit stronger source for the age and history of the place. The 1934 Olympia Polk Guide lists simply "The Tavern" in Littlerock, but lists no address.

6520 128th Ave SW, Olympia, WA 98512 - (360) 753-9952

1 comment:

Shea Munroe said...

The rock is just down the street from the Tavern, in front of the house that once served as the first post office. It is said that ladies riding their horses to the post office used the rock to mount/dismount. During WWII, one of the daughters (Margaret) was my mother's best friend and that's the story I grew up with. My mother's family were from Germany - the Noffsingers, and several family members owned property and built houses in Littlerock before the war.