Andrew Goff's "The Rural Bar Crawl" (Sept. 13) brought me back 25 years to my then home along notorious China Creek, in southern Humboldt County. My parents liked to visit me, but no way were they staying at my place. So they checked in at the newly built Humboldt House Inn, along the southern drag of Garberville's only real street. Late afternoon of their first day at the inn, a dozen camo-clad Aryans poured out of trucks sporting kill-grins and M16s. The Campaign Against Marijuana Planting was in full bloom, and the cops stayed at the Humboldt House as well. Dad was bemused, and from then on their Garberville home was "the CAMP Motel," which we call it to this day.
Dad was raised in west Sonoma County, as was his dad, as was I. The rural bar was a fixture, someplace to drop in after work or a domestic spat. Living in Guerneville during the 1960s was a lesson in anything goes. Particularly exciting were weekends when Bay Area biker gangs took over the town. It may have been the only time Dad was nervous in a bar.
While Mom watched TV in the CAMP Motel, Dad found the Blue Room. This was fall 1988, and CAMP was ravishing Humboldt grows, helicoptering into homesteads. You could feel the tension. When Dad walked into the Blue Room, looking every bit the bank vice president that he was -- polo shirt, clean white shorts, perfect silver mane -- it was like a movie. "There were 30 people in there and everyone -- everyone -- turned and stared at me for a long time while I moved to the bar," he told me. He got his drink, struck up conversation as he might have in his hometown with the logger, the bookseller, or the aberrant dilettante, and he quickly fit in.
Greg King, Arcata
Simon LeGree's Roadhouse Saloon was owned by Tom and Nancy LeGree in the 1970s. They were a happy, middle-aged couple and not bigots or "assholes." They also had a sense of humor and named their Airedale Simon. As Bette Midler says: "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke."
Katherine Bauer-Helwig, Burnt Ranch