Don't call em Bars or Taverns.   They're Beer Joints!

Charleston, being a working mans town has always had it's fair share of beer joints.  Most were safe places to stop and have a bottle of Stroh's, Duquesne, Blue Ribbon, West Virginia, and yes... even the high class beer called Budweiser.  I've always thought it strange that you never see any old photos of beer joints beyond the turn of the century.  Those 1890s establishments are now considered "quaint",  but any beer joint of the 40s 50s or 60s was considered a "dive". 

So I ran across some 50s photos of a place my Uncle owned on Smith Street.  It was a tiny little place that sold beer, hotdog's and hamburgers.  It was called the D K Cafe,  and before that "YaYah's" from the Syrian family that started it.  It was right next door to McClure Wholesale,  and most of the customers were from the Cablish Sunbeam Bakery and the railroad.  It wasn't unusual to see kids in beer joints back then,  just like you see kids in bars today with their parents. I remember being in just about every beer joint in Charleston at one time or another before I was 13.  From the "Elbow Room" to "The Terminal" to you name it.... I was probably in it. 

Below are a few photos from DK Cafe and one from "Bernie's" beer joints.  Notice the kids in the photos.  It's Halloween,  and I'm one of the Trick or Treaters. That's me at the bottom cutting up also.  I can remember when the good people seriously frowned on this.  Today however,  they'll take their kids into restaurants where HARD liquor is sold and think nothing of it!  I can never remember any problems in ANY beer joint I visited as a kid.  No fights, stabbing's, shootings.  An occasional drunk was shown the door and that was about it.   I think it's funny that I never took up drinking,  not even beer.  I could never understand why people wanted to drink something that wasn't sweet...  but bitter!  The WV beer joint:  an institution!

My tribute to the common WV Beer Joint!

All of the above were taken at the DK Cafe on Smith Street beer joints     tips

No beer joint in the world operated without Tip Boards

My Aunt on the left, my mom on the right with Fred Bowser

Me acting drunk.  Funny thing is... I never liked beer and never took-up drinking period.



This is my Smith Street neighbor, Carl Olian's joint.  It was on the Boulevard near Laidley Street.  People say it had a good dance floor.


 Slip Hill

Roadside Inn on Slip Hill Rt21 Sissonville Rd



Here you see just a few of the well over 200 beer signs that I once collected and placed in my basement.  Many people don't know that "back in the day",  it was illegal in WV to have a name-brand beer sign with lights in it.  So most (not all) of the signs that came to WV were pretty plain compared to signs say... in Ohio.  The signs that were SUPPOSED to be lit up like the Blue Ribbon and the Stroh's above,  were delivered without any electrical fixtures,  or had them removed.  Why was this stupid law in place?  The lawmakers felt that the smaller breweries couldn't compete with the big boys when it came to catching your eye.  West Virginia Beer couldn't compete with Stroh's for instance, in the amount of money spent on fancy signs.  The other reason some say,  is that a fancy lit beer sign in a window was simply too much enticement to the young people.  Therefore,  any lit sign that was in a window where the public could see it could only say 'BEER'.... or "COLD BEER",  but never EVER a name brand.  Another law was that curtains must be hung in every window in such a way that the public could never see you drinking.




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