Silver Dollar Tavern

The Missourian ran a story this morning about a man who died jumping off the Old Appleton Bridge. A reader asked if that was the same Castor River bridge I showed kids jumping off in another post.

The answer is, “No.” Wrong body of water, wrong bridge. The caller who reported the drowning said the man had jumped off the “red bridge” and had not surfaced. There used to be a water-powered mill just downstream of this bridge. A dam created a deep pool of water that made a good swimming hole.

I’ll write about the Old Appleton bridges later. The bridge on Highway 61 that replaced the “red bridge” was a death trap that The Missourian campaigned hard to get replaced. I spent a lot of time shooting wrecks there.

Silver Dollar Tavern

When we slowed down in Old Appleton this spring, I figured I’d better shoot the landmark Silver Dollar Tavern while it was still – barely – standing. The local gathering place had pool tables, a dance floor and a bar. I’ve read that a lot of Blues music was played there.

I don’t know how old the building is. A Google search of The Missourian’s archives popped up a story from 1948, so it’s at least as old as I am. I’m going to throw in a bunch of stories that ran in the Old Appleton News column over the years. Most of them were written by Rip Schnurbusch.

District News Editor herds stringers

One of my many jobs at The Missourian was District News Editor, riding herd over our country correspondents, or stringers, as they were called. They got the name of “stringers” because they were paid by the column inch and it was easier to measure their copy with a string at the end of the pay period instead of using a ruler and having to do math.

Being a young, serious journalist, I would edit their copy with a meat axe. One day, Editor John Blue called me in and said to cut them some slack. “Not much happens in these little towns, so they make do the best they can. Besides, their little asides are what make their columns fun to read.”

Non-linear journalism

Now that I’ve become a non-linear journalist myself, I can appreciate what jBlue was telling me. I’ve grown to appreciate Rip and Anne Withers from Delta and Anne Lattimore from Charleston in my old age, even though they drove me crazy when I had to read their hen scratch copy. To make it worse, they would send the same stories to three or four papers; you were lucky if you got the TOP copy and not the fourth carbon.

I just discovered a whole manila folder of stringer copy marked “Funny File.” We’ll save it for another time.

This one is too good not to share. It illustrates the news judgment of my stringers: A singing convention was held at the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Parma Sunday afternoon with feature singers of the Campbell Trio of Gideon. The convention was interrupted by a fire which destroyed the home of John Barker. [Emphasis mine. Mind you, this wasn’t even the TOP item.]

A Smattering of Old Appleton News

  • June 23, 1948Jean Balsmann, proprietor of the Silver Dollar Tavern, has added ice cream to his stock.
  • April 20, 1949Barney Balsmann, owner of the Silver Dollar Tavern, and his son, Gene, who operates the tavern, are building an addition to the building which will house several pool tables.

  • May 19, 1948 – A chicken fry was held Tuesday night at Silver Dollar Tavern for young men of the community.
  • F.C. Sewing recently purchased a sow and seven pigs from Barney Balsmann.
  • Oct. 13, 1948Miss Verda Weisbrod was honored at a miscellaneous shower last week at the Silver Dollar Tavern given by Mrs. Hugo Triller, Marilyn Weisbod and Betty J. Schnurbusch.
  • A tree felled last weekend by Millard Esters and Edward Jarigan killed a raccoon which had holed up in the tree. The impact of the tree, which was to be used to firewood, killed the animal.
  • May 16, 1962 – The Perry County Saddle Club held its monthly meeting Monday night at the Silver Dollar Tavern with a good attendance. Refreshments were served.
  • March 21, 1963 – Classified ad: SILVER DOLLAR TAVERN: For sale or lease. See or contact Gene Balsman, Perryville, MO.
  • March 31, 1965 – The Silver Dollar Tavern changed hands over the weekend, the new owner being Van Ferral.
  • April 30, 1970 – There is one less pony in town. The Edgar Blechle children lost one of their pet ponies this past week when the animal got loose, ran on the highway, and was hit by a small van truck belonging to the Saveway Oil Co. of Scott City.
  • Mr. and Mrs. B.C. Humphrey moved from the Wally Unterreiner home into the former Schaeffer home over the weekend. Mr. Humphrey is employed at the Farmers Limestone Co. as a heavy equipment operator, and Mrs. Humphrey is a cook at the Silver Dollar Tavern. [I wonder how long they had to live there before their domicile would be called the Humphrey home?]

14 Replies to “Silver Dollar Tavern”

  1. Understand completely about editing stringers. My first job after DOD Information School as an USAF Information Specialist was copy editor for the command newspaper of the 1sr Air Force. I had stringer all over the eastern third of US, Canada, Greenland, and Iceland. I received copy with headlines such as “Nurses outnumber trees at Thule” (5 nurses, no trees at Thule Grenland.) Actually, that was one of the better ones. I also got a lot of promotions, retirements, commendations, and my favorite, awards for getting long life out of a tube (yes, tube) used in radar. The closest to controversy we ever came (news or op/ed) were stories about athletic games.

    Fortunately, I went from the Air Force to the Times, where covering John D. McCarthur vs North Palm Beach–and just about everybody else–persuaded me to stay a writer.

  2. While in college, I drank a beer or two at the Silver Dollar twice a year – when the Tekes held their fall Chickenfest and spring Pig Roast at Old Appleton. (The other beers were courtesy of the fraternity and Kohlfeld Distributing.)
    The best song on the old jukebox was “The Stag Beer Song” and my selective memory recalls the man who wrote and recorded it was from Longtown, but I can’t remember his name.

    1. I led a sheltered youth. I don’t think I was ever in the Silver Dollar Tavern.

      A Google search turned up only one hit for The Stag Beer Song. A fellow named Jack Daniel Asbridge posted this. Is it what you remember?

      the stag beer song
      (to the tune of screaming infidelities)

      i’m craving that beer i wanna drink the gold delicious i stop and think, where did i put that 7 dollars

      i’m ready to go, i need some money where is my wallet, where could it be, at least i have some spare change in my car

      i open a can maybe number 10 i’m starting to feel like i’m superman don’t dare me to jump from your bedroom window

      and as for now i’m gonna drink the greatest beer that ever was invented brewed in belleville

      and as for me i wish that i was anywhere with anyone getting drunk

      i’m getting buzzed how can that be i’ve only consumed about 17 what am i doing cause real men don’t count

      i’m craving that beer i wanna drink that gold delicious i stop and think boy am i glad i found that 7 dollars

      i open that can i can’t feel my hand i’m starting to feel like i’m superman don’t dare me to jump from your bedroom window

      stag beer is everywhere making thirst a pleasure and making me not care

  3. You want to know how many new tractor stories and photos i receive at the Missourian. let alone grib and grin check passing Stories i got? They are good space killers,but other then that whagt else are these stringer stories good for?

    1. Bob,

      I don’t know if the caliber of “citizen journalists” has improved over the years (based on comments I see left in the Speak Out section of the paper, I would say it hasn’t), but the folks I dealt with were real characters.

      I’m going to be in Cape for a few weeks, so I won’t have a chance to do a story about them, but it’s definitely on the list.

      At least you weren’t there in the days before jBlue banned photos of guys holding dead snakes at arms-length. And you missed the era of the Big Trees.

  4. One other thing: In the 1980’s, “Van” was known to drink young fraternity men under the table armed with nothing more than a bottle of blackberry brandy. He was quite a character!

    (I’m guessing this was Van Ferral, who purchased the Silver Dollar in 1965. I never knew his last name, but how many men named “Van” could there have been living in Old Appleton?)

  5. Ken,
    Unfortunately, that’s not the song. I’d be really surprised to find that old 45 rpm record has been uploaded to the web in any form.

    After all that beer drinking and these many years, the only line I can recall went something like this:

    “Stag beer, it’s the best beer in the land
    You can buy it in a bottle or you can buy it in a can”

    I tried locating a copy of the record back in the 80’s, but had no luck 25+ years ago. I’d be beyond shocked to find one now.

    1. Dave Schnurbusch wrote /sang this song. He still lives in the area, a little farther north than Appleton. I listened to this song a million times growing up. My momma still has the 45.

  6. Anne Withers, my mothers aunt! And would you believe her husband was Andy! Her stories would crack me up…only in a small town weekly would you find such writings! Keep up the good wor Ken. Enjoy your musings! Need a laugh and a smile everyday……only 3 weeks until the election. This has been the longest period of my life!

    1. Don’t worry. I have a whole stack of Anne Withers clippings that I’ll share.

      Like I said, I’m old enough to appreciate them today. Back in the 60s, I still took newspapers seriously.

  7. My mom, Verna Gremaud, formerly Verna Mae Myers, told me that her parents worked at The Silver Dollar. I think they began working there around the time of WWII. Their names were Dave and Louise Myers, longtime residents of Old Appleton.

  8. This is all very interesting! I don’t recall ever being at Old Appleton,but have heard about it . The Silver Dollar Tavern must have been some place back in it’s day !

  9. My husband Don, brother Mike Stephens and wife Martha bought Van and Wilma Ferril’s house on Applecreek in the early 70’s. Van owned the Silver Dollar and moved across the road to a mobile home. We spent weekends at the house “cabin”. There was always something going on at the Silver Dollar. We loved to go up there and drink with the locals. You could also buy sandwiches, and limited grocery items. In the summer there were shelves out front that local produce could be purchased.

  10. My parents Don & Jeannie Newhouse owned property in Old Appleton. So as a child I vacationed there 2-3 weeks a year in the early 70’s. We ate, drank sodas and played shuffle board ( If I remember correctly) as kids after swimming at the dam all day. I remember Van & Wilma. They were kind to us kids & always smiling. We felt like we were a pretty BIG DEAL going into a bar and ordering food & drinks without my parents. Great memories of the Silver Dollar Tavern.

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