Patti Hall likes to step from the La Salle business she runs, Rudy’s Nip ‘n’ Tote Liquors, and through a portal into another time dimension.
She’ll drop a quarter into the 1963 Wurlitzer Stereo Model 2700 jukebox and watch as an arm inside lifts a 45 record into place against a needle, then feel the goosebumps.
Make the world go away.
And get it off my shoulders.
Say the things you used to say.
And make the world go away.
As Eddy Arnold’s voice from his 1966 hit “Make the World Go Away” cloaks her and seeps into every cranny of the room, Patti imagines her late dad, Al “Red” Stachowiak, tending bar, her passed-away uncle Rudy Faleskin cracking eggs into beers for Westclox workers. They thought it was healthy.
Patti, her husband and sister now tend the bar, a time warp tavern, that has been in her family since Rudy bought the 1906 structure in 1948, after returning from World War II. Under Rudy’s ownership, the joint developed into a community hub. The bar is a hidden part of Rudy’s Liquors, not always open to the public.
“I love this place and thinking about its history,” Patti said.
The jukebox breathes the past into the room. Its most recently pressed 45 is from 1969, “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” The John F. Kennedy-era machine can play 200 tunes from the A and B sides of 100 discs. Patti pointed out some young adults patronizing the bar have had to take a minute to grasp how this pre-digital contraption works. One song costs 10 cents, with three for two bits and seven for 50 cents. Patti always leaves quarters on top the music machine for anyone to use, because it’s about memories, not money making.
Patti said an electrician told her the best way to keep the jukebox working is to play it. So she does.
Another coin brings back to life Al Martino and his 1967 chart topper “Spanish Eyes.”
Blue Spanish eyes.
Teardrops are falling from your Spanish eyes.
Please please don’t cry.
This is just adios and not good-bye.
It’s not uncommon for tears to fall when Rudy or Red’s baby boomer offspring visit and remember, as Patti does, the good times they witnessed there as youngsters. A 1952 photo shows a woman in her cups standing on the bar’s iron radiator. The radiator is still there, percolating in the winter. If you want, you can stand on the same spot.
Patti’s uncle added the liquor store in 1965, with a space-age neon sign that remains alive, pointing customers to the warm spirits within. But opening the store led to the end of the bar, as it became too much for Rudy to handle both operations as he aged. He shut the doors around 1974, as indicated by the last state inspection sticker on the jukebox.
Cobwebs took over. For years the bar became an easy place to put junk. But Patti eventually cleared away the boxes and revived the establishment with the original stools, rotating vintage Schlitz globes and an old-time Meister Blau clock that tells the current time. She’s proud of the long-ago cigarette burns on the sturdy wood bar.
The saloon is not regularly open, but does occasionally host tastings, the dates of which are posted on the 1965 sign or 2017 social media. It’s also available for private parties, so if you want set up a visit to yesteryear, use Facebook or call Patti the old-fashioned way at: 815-223-2351. Rudy’s is at 285 Chartres St., where that thoroughfare intersects with Fifth Street.
In between public events at the bar, Patti will privately feed a dime to the Wurlitzer and take in singer Brenda Lee’s heartache from 1963:
Lonely, lonely, lonely me
Broken hearted as can be
Ah, my baby’s gone, everything’s wrong
Lonely, lonely, lonely me.