Joey’s Song

Silence fell over the crowded establishment as patrons spread the announcement: “It’s time for Joey’s song.”

Young men and women slid out of their booths and several people popped off their tall stools to shuffle southward, jockeying for a place to sit or stand in the “dance floor room.”

“Come on,” you could hear some young men say to their dates. “It’s time for Joey’s song.”

Moments earlier the band had blasted out rock tunes of the period and the dance floor had filled with couples and prospective couples.

But now it was quiet as Joey, daughter of the bar’s owners, stepped up to the microphone for her only singing performance of the night, or any night…

“Take the ribbon from my hair. Shake it loose and let it fall. Layin’ soft upon your skin, Like the shadows on the wall.”

The first words to Joey’s song, riveting the crowd with a voice as pure as any of the stars of the era. The once overpowering band now followed Joey’s sweet voice in a nearly hushed accompaniment, playing soulful slow country chords and not upstaging the voice of Joey or the lusty lyrics of Kris Kristofferson.

And she continued…

“Come and lay down by my side, ‘Til the early mornin’ light. All I’m takin’ is your time. Help me make it through the night.”

Young ladies cuddled closer as the song went along. Young men hugged harder. Strangers’ eyes met across the room and Joey’s voice and Kris’ words “broke the ice” for some of the shy patrons.

We knew her as Joey Wise back then, as beautiful a person inside as her angelic vocal would indicate, daughter of Jim and Marian and manager of the establishment known as the Mini Bar, formerly the Steakhouse.

Many years have passed since the “hey day” of the Mini Bar, but the memories created there endure solidly in the minds of those who were fortunate enough to have been a part of it.

It was the dance and meeting place for a generation or more of young adults from Greenfield and several surrounding counties. If the old place could talk, there would be thousands of stories to be told. Joey’s song is just one of them.

9 thoughts on “Joey’s Song”

  1. As you know, Butch, I grew up in the beer joint business also, had to clean up gross stuff in toilets, mop, etc., etc. Even had my own for a while – Jeff’s Corner. Incidentally, the three-tap draught cooler at Jeff’s Corner I purchased from your mother. Just the thought of going back into the saloon business makes me nervous. I, too, just shake my head as I drive past the old place and flash back to the times when not only the parking lot was full, the the field next to it, and Joey or others having to turn people away or make them wait outside because the fire marshal was making waves. If I hit the lottery for millions, it would be nice to bring back the Mini Bar for a resurrection, but someone else would have to manage it. Interested?

    1. That would be kind of a Walt Disney or Henry Ford kind of thing to do with lottery winnings. Recreate the world of your youth, turn Skeen’s back into a grocery just as it once looked, restore the Mini-Bar, restore the downtown store fronts to their original 1800s appearances. Even if they were never used again, make them look like they were being used. Place vintage shoes in the windows of a restored S&S Bootery, etc. Anybody want to chip in on a Power Ball ticket?

  2. Great job Jeff. Never got to hear classmate Joey sing her number, but her folks did pour many a libation for me before I went off to the Coast Guard and when home on leave. Salute Joey and Jeff and to you Butch I had urnal duty many a time myself…..

  3. Great story Jeff! Beautifully written! I remember her singing that song, I was more nevous than she was…..afraid of how the crowd would react, but it was a very moving expereince, never could choke back the tears enough or quell my quivering vocal chords enough to tell her how much I like it. Hey Sis, GREAT JOB!!!! 🙂

    Yes, a bar of 1,000 stories! The time someone (Scotty Meyers?) had a birthday drink from the BIG fishbowl we had, and fell over backwards off of the barstool trying to gulp it down, seems like it held 12 or 13 beers and the deal was if you could drink it you didn’t have to pay for it and you had 60-minutes to drink it….I think that’s how it was.

    I used to clean the floors and fill the beer coolers on Sat. and Sunday mornings. The Men’s urinal was the worse thing I had to clean, YUCK! Pick out the cigarette butts, gum and some unidentified objects with a pair of tongs, slosh it with a whole bucket of Mr. Clean with Amonia, spray it down with a water hose them mop the floor, yep it taught me exactly what dad wanted it to teach me….become an engineer!!!!

    I grew up in that place and it’s heartbreaking to see it everytime I get up that way, to see the deplorable condition it’s now in. Oh yeah, I painted the outside of the place at least three times, now look at it.

    C’mon Jeff, ante up and buy it, what a great restoration project that would be 🙂

    Thanks for the Memories.

    Butch Wise (Joey’s little brother 🙂 )

  4. I never heard her sing, and I am sorry that I missed that. We did have a fantastic time @ the Mini Bar. It was fun having a place that we could enjoy, hang out, and be off the streets. Nothing like that today.

  5. I remember hearing this so many times, as she rocked me, and I do have visions of her being on stage and singing, I love hearing all the stories of home, but especially my mother and Grand Parents. I will print this out and save it.

  6. Unfortunately I was never at the Mini-Bar for one of Joey’s performances. During most of the 60s I was either away in the Navy or in college in California. Over the years I did get there often enough to have some stories to tell, most not in polite company, though.

    My memories go back to when it was originally the Sportsman Steak House and it was a dinner club. One I can share was a period of time when Donny Lytle (aka Johnny Paycheck) was back in town and made nightly appearances at the Steak House playing music at the bar for beers. He had been hanging out in Nashville trying to catch a break but it hadn’t happened yet so he came home to catch his breath…or eat his mom’s bean soup for a while!

  7. Jeff, I love your stories. I wish you would write more of them. I was only in the Mini Bar once. You made me wish I had been there more often.

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