What would you do in a Klondike bar?

What would you do in a Klondike bar?

If you were a young Bill Hoffman, you might follow your dad in on a Sunday morning to enjoy a little post-mass refreshment — Orange Crush and a candy bar for you and your four siblings, and a beer or two for your dad.

You’d feel right at home, too, because the bar would be owned by George and Esther Kralovitz, two fellow parishioners at Saint Wenceslas Parish, right down the road. You wouldn’t be the only family relaxing there on a Sunday after mass. Plenty of other church members would be stopping by on their way home as well.

You could look out the saloon window and see, kitty corner, a general store owned by Elwyn Stodola, your uncle. The cheese factory near the church would be owned by your great uncle Frank Hoffman. In fact, you’d spend your childhood in the happy company of family, attend school in a one-room school house where your whole grade would consist of three members — you, your first cousin Dan Hoffman and another first cousin Dennis Hoffman.

You might grow up helping your dad on the family farm your grandparents built.

You might surprise everyone and become a beloved parish priest.

What would you do in a Klondike Bar?

If you were me and Vince last weekend, you might enjoy a really delicious barbecue chicken pizza and talk history with an engaging bartender named Mandy who, in the course of your discussion, would pull out a fascinating box of history she’d been collecting.

She might tell you all about how the Klondike Saloon and Dance Hall was built in 1903, with a barber shop in the side hall and rooms for rent upstairs. She’ll note that the bar was raided during prohibition, but never cited.

What would you do in a Klondike Bar?

You might learn about how Chicago was built by Wisconsin white pines during the lumber boom of the 19th century, how strong, Bohemian immigrants from places like Germany and the Czech Republic followed and turned the stump-strewn fields into dairy farms.

You might hear stories of Chicago gangsters hiding out and, possibly dumping a bullet-strewn car in the woods near there.

But that’s a story for another day.

Vince and I did spend an afternoon in the Klondike Saloon, where we met Mandy, who showed us lots of cool pictures she’s assembling to turn a hallway there into a museum.

That conversation led to another with Father Bill Hoffman, who grew up in the Klondike area, and spent many years as the pastor at St. Therese Parish.

And, about that bullet strewn car? Well, you’ll have to stay tuned.

Mandy was kind enough to share some of the pictures she’s assembling for a hall of history she’s putting together.
Including this shot of families relaxing outside the bar.
And this of a group of men enjoying a beer.
And this one of some well-dressed men playing poker.
And this cool shot of the bar.
And this of the Klondike championship baseball team from 1947.
And this one of the general store owned by Elwyn Stodola.
Play close attention to these cars parked behind the Klondike Saloon. You might see one of them again in Monday’s post.
Oh, and when you do go to the Klondike Saloon, order the barbecue chicken pizza. It was delicious.

3 thoughts on “What would you do in a Klondike bar?

    1. Winter, summer or fall? It’s a cool place to visit in almost any season, except spring when there’s no snow and the tics come out 🙂

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