Whoo-eee, Yee-Haw, Yippee, Praise the Lord and Pass the Coffee, Cookie and me are back on the trail! Thanks for your patience while I’ve been up to my neck in work, and Cookie’s been up to his neck in no good! If ya missed us, thanks! If not…Well I won’t lie that stings a might.
If you’ve been followin’ the Saturday Serial RACE TO MARRY then y’all know it takes place in a real town Sheridan, Wyoming. I’ve also incorporated real places, faces and few events. SO we thought…okay I thought (Cookie turns a few shades of green over the attention Cal Renner is gettin’) I’d share a bit about the places, faces and events mentioned in previous installments or those comin’ ‘round the bend.
Today we’re visitin’ the MINT SALOON (now the Mint Bar)! I thought that might perk up Cookie…
Come on folks and meet me at the Mint…
The Mint Saloon opened its doors for business in 1907 right in the heart of downtown Sheridan, Wyoming. Negotiations for the purchase of the property began as far back as 1894 with a down payment of $500. When then Mint opened, ice was delivered in horse-drawn wagons to the saloon’s ice box and the bartenders wore long white aprons, serving drinks across a long mahogany bar. The Mint offered drink, gambling and women.
One of the “local celebrities” who entertained many a patron at the Mint was Rounder, the Airedale belonging to Charles “Dick” Marlow, owner of the Mint in 1911. Rounder was such a staple at the bar and in Sheridan, he was the subject of at least three articles in the Sheridan Post, including his obituary. According to a July 11, 1911 article in the Post, Rounder was by far “the brightest, keenest, wittiest, and altogether the most remarkable dog in Sheridan—perhaps in all the state of Wyoming.”
Rounder could be found any day in front of the Mint. “No, he isn’t a handsome dog—he runs more to brains than beauty—but that’s to his credit rather than otherwise.” Rounder was known as a civil dog, but he reserved all his enthusiasm for Dick Marlow. Reports say Rounder could take a message over the phone and carry out the orders given, or any other verbal request made by his master “as well as the average human being.”
Mr. Marlow states that Rounder got the telephone trick himself, through his habit of calling his wife over the phone and asking her to send the dog downtown with a letter or a package or in the performance of some errand or other. Before long, Rounder learned that the jingle of the telephone bell generally meant a call for him, and he would jump about and push Mrs. Marlow away from the phone when she went to answer it.
One day, hearing a commotion at the other end of the line, Mr. Marlow asked what the trouble was. Upon being told that it was Rounder, trying to get at the telephone, he told his wife to hold the receiver to the dog’s ear. Rounder recognized the voice, and wagging his tail in delight, licked the instrument which talked like his master. Since then he has taken many orders over the telephone and one of his chief pleasures is a chat over the wire.
A few of the tricks reported include a game of hide and seek.
Mr. Marlow blindfolded himself – or rather, tied the handkerchief around his head, being careful not to entirely over his eyes.
“No you go and hide it.” Rounder was told.
Taking the wallet in his mouth the dog started back toward the rear, “Don’t leave it there, I can see you.” Mr. Marlow called as the dog turned the first corer and was about to lay it down. So the dog went on back, out of sight and sound, and shortly returned, looking wise as an owl. Mr. Marlow stooped down and Rounder took the blindfold in his teeth and pulled it off, then lay down on the floor as though for a long nap, insinuating by his actions that his master could never find it where he had hidden it.
Mr. Marlow looked all about, as though having a hard time finding the wallet. Locating it at last, he came out to the front room with it in his hand.
“I found it, Rounder,” he said, and the dog’s eyes sparkled and snapped as if in appreciation of his little joke.
Dick Marlow would only have to state that it was cold in the room and Rounder would kick the door closed with a slam. Rounder was so well known many dogs were named after him. Marlow and Rounder left Wyoming for California in 1913; just one of the changes on the horizon for the Mint.
In 1919, Prohibition but a halt to the social gatherings at the Mint…well sort of. The front of the building became a dress shop, real estate office, and then the Mint Cigar Company and Soda Shop, “while in the back was one of the coziest little bottle joints around” for those who disagreed with the 18th Amendment and Volstead Act.
When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the owners Archie Wilson and his partner, Robert J. Thirwell reopened the bar. They obtained their liquor license on March 30, 1935 and built on to the back of the building making room for slot machines, roulette wheels, and gaming tables. These changes accommodated a thriving gambling clientele in the back room and newly legal drinkers in the front.
Since 1907 and continuing even through Prohibition the Mint bar has been a gathering place to talk shop about ranching, hunting, artisan work and business. The doors are open to cowboys, ranchers, and dudes to come in socialize and tip back a cold one. This tradition continues today with the catch phrase “Meet you at the Mint,” being used by patrons far and wide.
The Mint received a complete overhaul in the late 1940’s. The rustic style and red cedar bar that remains today replaced the old stamped tin ceilings and mahogany bar. Cedar shingle brands adorn the walls of the Mint and are the work of L.L. McVean who owned the bar from 1943-1974. “Mac took a soldiering iron, an electric needle, and a brand book one day and started to work; as a result, the walls of the Mint are an encyclopedia of over 9000 slabs of local brands.” Much of the wild game adorning the bar was a result of Mac and local entrepreneur Sam Mavrakis’ trip to the Yukon in the 1950’s. “Those two Dall sheep,” Sam pointed to some of the trophy heads on the wall of the Mint, in a 1985 interview. “Three grizzlies – we made rugs out them – those two caribou, a moose, that wolverine, that black wolf. In 18 days we got all those.”
Bud Wolfe, who bartended at the Mint from 1945-1979, was interviewed in 1985. He remembered his favorite customers were the old rodeo cowboys from “back when rodeoing meant long thirsty drives between towns and the cowboys stayed in one place longer than an eight-second bull ride. I used to know so many of them guys…” Bud recalls. “…Shawn Davis, the Linderman boys, J.D. McKenna, Fred Lewis. But they don’t hang around anymore, the professionals. They draw their stock, they fly in, they use their stock and by then they’re headed down to Cheyenne.”
But the Mint remains. A landmark and a place where the grandchildren and great- grandchildren of those who built, cultivated, ranched, farmed and lived in Sheridan go to toss a cold one back and catch up on all the news. “And it’s one of the friendliest places in town.” Sam Mavrakis said in 1985. “I came in here and kissed three girls right away.”
The Mint is so well-known that when Queen Elizabeth visited Sheridan in 1985 there was a rumor she would visit the Mint. While the Queen didn’t make it inside the bar a wire service photograph, sent throughout the country, showed a beaming Queen Elizabeth with the Mint’s neon cowboy glowing in the background.
So there ya have it folks a brief overview of the saloon where Cal was tossin’ a few back before things went South!
Cookie! Stop jawin’ with the cowpokes and tellin’ tales taller than the Big Horns, we’ve got places to go!