Reader Letters | July 23, 2009

Exposing the Blue Front

In a recent edition Frank Smoot raised the question about the origin of the name of a certain Water Street tavern once known as the Blue Front. I am happy to shed light on this. Back in the 50’s and 60’s a popular architectural feature was to attach heavy colored plate glass to the fronts of buildings. The bar on Water Street had such a feature, and the plate glass was blue – hence the name Blue Front.

The house fellow (now called resident assistants) in my dorm used the Blue Front as his headquarters. Every night he would shout down the hall, “If anyone needs me I will be at the Blue Front.”

The tavern was one of several memorable legacies of Water Street watering holes. In the summer of 1965 I rented an apartment a few doors down from the Blue Front above what was then Benedict’s Appliances. My roommate and I both paid $15 a month for this one-bedroom flat.

Across the street was a place then known as Harry’s Bar. I recall it being populated by mostly older men. Across from Harry’s, at the corner of 4th Avenue and Water Street was a bar known as the Old Home. I believe it is now called the Nasty Habit. The bar was indeed an “old home” for me. For 50 cents you could get this giant hot turkey sandwich and for 35 cents you could have a shot of inexpensive whiskey and a small beer chaser.
Water Street is very different than it was in the mid 1960’s, but the memories still live on.

– John K. Enger, Menomonie

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