Growing Up Catholic in a Small Texas Town

Texas Style

Seems I write a lot about beer — not intentionally, it just happens. If you’re Czech and grew up Catholic in a small Texas town in the 1950s, beer was always around. Beer in tin-tubs of ice, beer in the refrigerator, beer at church functions, and of course, beer in beer joints. West was home to several: Henry’s Place, EJ’s, Shadowland and Volcik’s (which were also restaurants), the original VFW Club, where my Dad used to volunteer behind on the bar on Sunday nights while my mom, sisters, and I played bingo. If you lived in the country and didn’t want to drive to town, you could go to the nearby country store/joint beer, pick up a loaf of bread, some sliced baloney, down a Lone Star, and go home. Thankfully, a few of these places are still in operation: the Ross Store, the Gholson Store, and my favorite, the Tokio Store, where rumor has it that the “mayor” of this non-existent town was once a dog.

Nowadays, I buy beer almost anywhere. I can go to CVS, pick up a prescription, grab a six-pack, and leave happy. But it’s not the same.

There are two ancient beer joints still in business in West. One is Mynar’s Bar, where Felix Mynar (God rest him) held court but never counted. Whenever I’m in town, I leave a can on his grave at St. Mary Cemetery. He’s buried near my mom and dad.

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

I’m fond of thinking the other joint evolved from Uncle Jerome’s bar. Jerome was one of my Dad’s six brothers. I don’t remember him having a regular job. He was sort of the entrepreneur of the family. Back in the fifties, he and his wife, Hattie, owned the Four Corners (and beer joint), a few miles from West. All that was there was the store and their house. In the summer, they would set out benches and show free movies on the store’s exterior. Uncle Jerome and Aunt Hattie eventually sold the place and moved into town to open a second bar. Dad tended bar when my uncle needed extra help. By this time, Mom was working, so Dad would bring my sisters and me along to hang out while he worked — his idea of babysitting. We loved going to Jerome’s Place, drinking Dr. Peppers and playing the jukebox. I remember once Dad threatened to leave us at home if we made him listen to the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann” one more time. To entertain us, Aunt Hattie used to hide quarters in the booth seats for us to find.

After Jerome passed away, the place became Wolf’s Bar somewhere along the line. Now it’s became Wolf’s Bar and then Wolf’s Sports Bar and Grill. There’s a lot more to do at Wolf’s than search for quarters. They have live music, cornhole tournaments, crawfish boils, and an annual chili cook-off.

Perusing their Facebook page, it appears they host birthday parties and a few wedding receptions every now and then. Wolf’s has more than 2,800 FB followers most of them in a town of 3,200. Wolf’s has a fabulous menu and a full bar. I hear their Bloody Marys are out of this world.

Last year, my nephew Connor entered the chili cook-off. Luckily, I was in town at the time and attended. It was a blustery winter day, but that didn’t keep the crowd away. He entered again this year too. He still hasn’t won, but he’s not giving up. I’ve thought about giving him my recipe, which includes green chilies, jalapenos, garlic, onions, and a bit of honey. But, with my choice of protein, I’m not sure how it would fare. One of the rules is no fillers can be added to the recipe. Is tofu a filler? I’d hate for my beloved nephew to get run out of town. Wouldn’t be fitting for such a nice guy. But I might suggest it to an erstwhile “friend” (unnamed here), who’s popped up in a Wolf’s FB photo.

I think Felix is happy Mynar’s lives on. And I’m sure Uncle Jerome and Aunt Hattie are pleased that their relatives visit the bar on occasion.

To find out more about Wolf’s, just look them up on Facebook. Next time I’m at Wolf’s, I’m buying one of their hoodies.

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Metaphor Writing Coach. Author of the Sydney Lockhart mysteries and the Kate Caraway mysteries. I blog about, “Growing Up Catholic in a Small Texas Town.”

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Kathleen Kaska

Kathleen Kaska

Metaphor Writing Coach. Author of the Sydney Lockhart mysteries and the Kate Caraway mysteries. I blog about, “Growing Up Catholic in a Small Texas Town.”