Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Speck's Bar: Family Watering Hole

During the holidays, when the aunts and uncles gathered at my grandmother's house, invariably, it meant a visit to Speck's Lagunitas Tavern on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. I spent many an hour crawling the length of that mahogany bar (and sampling cigarette buts) as a toddler. During the late 1950s, pretty much all social life revolved around the bar.

Speck (Frank) McAuliffe was an old friend of the family, from the San Francisco days. His daughter, Lauretta McAuliffe, my mother's best friend, was my godmother. With his Mission Irish accent, Speck sounded like Archie Bunker, and looked like a gnome, smoking like a chimney, tamping the black leather liar's dice cup down on the bar with aplomb. Snake eyes! Someone called. Whoever lost bought the round.

Pat Mcauliffe (Decker), my aunts Jane and Toddy (Kathleen) Reilly

We've got some modeling photos of Speck's other daughter Patricia McAuliffe Decker, who was also a bartender at Speck's, with my aunts, when they were young, pouring Cook's Champagne. (My aunt Jane was the famous Gallo girl, before it was Gallo. You saw renderings of her on the back of every newspaper and magazine during the 50s.)

I've a great photo  from the early 60s, of my grandmother, aunt, and Cal Davis at a crab cioppino feed in the dining room. Speck had a big green parrot that ate sunflower seeds and swore like a pirate in the dining room. He liked carrots and children's fingers, as I can attest.

Speck owned the Lagunitas post office building too. His daughter, Pat McAuliffe & George Decker lived upstairs (before the downstairs was turned into a post office—not sure where it was before that. At DeLacy's Lagunitas store?) My mother and father also lived next door for a short while. 

The Lagunitas Lodge was also a livery stable when Speck (or rather his wife) bought it. When the the livery stable burned down, Old Pete, the last real cowboy, lived in a Slipstream trailer behind Speck's and kept his equally old strawberry roan horse over by Tanzi's place.

Sometimes Old Pete would saddle up the old roan and ride on over to the Forest Knolls Saloon when he was in need of a change in watering holes. The horse was resplendent all decked in tooled leather and silver, and old Pete slouched down in the saddle, a real low rider, would roll cigarettes one-handed.

Feilim on Tangerine

I've an old photo of my uncle Feilim on a painted horse in front of the livery stable. The horses were wintered on our property. So our family (eight kids) grew up on horseback.

Toddy on Baby Snooks, & my mom

Only one horse lived on in infamy. Baby Snooks, a big black horse with a big blaze, and splashy white feet, stood at 16 hands at the withers, but he was a handful, and famously mean, but everyone in my family rode him anyway.

Chiquita, my rescue horse from the glue factory, was originally from the livery stables—she was a horse my mom rode. But Chuquita was mine, all mine. She was my salvation, my way out. My escape from the valley.

see also
Speck McAuliffe's Bar Burned Down
I really should combine the two posts. Clearly I'm not done with it yet.

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