“Best Lodge by a Dam Site” — Official Shelbyville Moose Lodge 1294 slogan

The Shelbyville Moose Lodge was where my sister got that scar on her chin.

She and I talked about it last night, and neither of us could remember the actual event: Debra falling off the bar stool, blood flowing everywhere, Mom saving the day (or night) with a couple of butterfly Band-Aids. (“I probably should’ve had stitches,” Debra said, but I disagree: To this day, I’m convinced any wound can be closed with a butterfly Band-Aid or two.)

Debra must have been 3 or younger, and neither of us can figure out why she would have been left unattended, on a bar stool, for even a second. And where was I? How could I have missed out on all the action?

Still, this is our first recollection of the Moose … even though, technically, neither of us can actually remember it.

My most recent memory of the Moose is attending Roommate and Brad’s wedding reception there and catching the bouquet. Didn’t require quite as athletic a move as when I snagged the bouquet at Patti and Bob’s reception — that one included a spin around the pole in the middle of the room and, if I’m not mistaken, a leap over the gaggle of wannabe brides around me. (The irony of someone who never really plans/expects to be married — or, more precisely, to be legally married — being so proficient at bouquet-catching is something I can appreciate. Fully.)

Bobby referred to the Moose as Dad and Helen’s “second home.” I would certainly agree it was Dad’s “home away from home,” even during those rare times when he also visited the American or the Spigot. If I’m not mistaken, Dad was an officer at the Moose, and I’m certain he was editor of the local Moose newsletter.

My stepdad liked the place, too; in fact, the only one who didn’t appreciate it was my mom, and that’s primarily because she neither drinks nor smokes, so she didn’t like being around people who were drinking (including my dad AND my stepdad), nor did she enjoy smelling like an ashtray. Plus, who knows, perhaps she had bad memories of my sister doing a header off the bar stool?!

I liked the Moose. I liked getting free Cokes and playing pool and basically running amok, through the bar and up and down the stairs, chasing or being chased or playing hide-and-go-seek. I liked pulling tabs and playing bingo, back before someone came along and said you had to be 18 to pull tabs or play bingo — or maybe someone had already said that, but the Moose merely took a little longer to observe the rules, who knows? I liked trying to sneak a drink of Lucy Herrick’s “coffee,” which I later learned was laced with a wee bit o’ whiskey.

For many years, the Moose hosted post-Prom actitivies — which, again venturing into the realm of the ironic, were intended to keep kids from drinking alcohol. After the dance my sophomore or junior year, we went bowling for a while and then headed to the Moose to hang out for a bit of alcohol-free entertainment. Yes, it was possible to have a good time without getting drunk.

One time, our handbell choir actually went and performed a mini-concert at the Moose — and the people there LOVED us! (Of course, we were really good, back in those days; plus, who doesn’t love listening to handbells?)

I haven’t been to the Moose for more than 15 years, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to miss seeing it next time I drive on Main Street and take a glance down Broadway.

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