The seventies were a golden era for Rockland bars. Old-time bars nearing their twilight were still going strong as new bars popped up. The beer was from St. Louis and Milwaukee, not Maine or Vermont.

The drinking age then was 18. I came of age January of my senior year, meaning I visited Rockland bars while still in high school.

I remember a couple old-time neighborhood bars between Blake Lane and Rockland Street: The Log Cabin and Knapp’s Pub. The Log Cabin served lunch as well as drinks. I believe I visited Knapp’s Pub but not The Log Cabin.

In the South End near Fulton Street was the Idle Hour Tavern. It was popular with a younger crowd. For years I had good times there with fellow classmates. Coming home from college, a weekend visit to Idle Hour Tavern was always on my list.

The Dirty Mug was located where the front lawn of Stella Maris Home is now, at the intersection of Park Street and Broadway. Growing up, it was a small family restaurant called Humpty Dumpty’s. (The place where good eggs meet to eat.)

I cannot say I ever had a dirty glass in that place. The beer was cold and there was a pool table. Back then we ordered beer in pitchers and kept our glasses full. Everyone took turns buying a pitcher.

The Oasis on Myrtle Street was a working man’s bar. I was a little young for that place. It was rough around the edges but always friendly.

There is a mythical feel to the stories from that time. They seem to take on a life of their own. Fortunately, the present-day Myrtle Street Tavern has a lot of the feel of the old place.

HOTEL BAR

The Thorndike Hotel had a bar called The Seaman’s Den, with a side entrance down three steps from Tillson Avenue and between the hedges. Fishermen put on their nicer clothes Friday and Saturday nights to attend here.

If you were lucky, you might get a free drink when a fisherman bought a round for the house after the boats landed.

The Wayfarer Hotel at the intersection of Union and Park streets was also a fisherman’s bar. It had a homey restaurant, and in the next room was a small bar which also served meals.

The public ate in the restaurant, fishmen ate in the bar. It was not uncommon to see fishermen drinking at 7 a.m. After being at sea for 10 days, working rotating shifts day and night, one man’s 7 a.m. might be another’s 5 p.m.

The Navigator Lounge at Navigator Motor Inn and the Red Jacket Lounge at Trade Winds Motor Inn rounded out the hotel bars. The Navigator served hotel guests and Vinalhaven residents who were staying over. The Red Jacket turned over many times but most always had good music and dancing.

The Golden Spike came near the end of this golden era. Located off Park Street behind Sherwin Williams, it was located next to the railroad tracks (hence the name).

The Golden Spike was the biggest of the barrooms, with a stage for live music. It could accommodate hundreds of patrons. The idea was to be big enough to host the top acts of the day. I remember seeing musician and songwriter Bill Chinnock play there.

The Golden Spike was also a biker bar. The local motorcycle club called it home and built a ramp to ride their Harleys into the bar.

Rockland bars, both then and now, are like the tides; they come and go. Support the ones you like, and always remember to tip your bartender.

Glenn Billington is a lifelong resident of Rockland and has worked for The Courier-Gazette and The Free Press since 1989.

Glenn’s old state ID. Courtesy of Glenn Billington

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