Mar 24, 2013

The Whyte Goose: No glitz in this bar, but plenty of hot dogs and pickles (and a cool dog named Pickles)

The Goose: A bit of everything inside
We decided it was time, in fairness, to head to the west side, and our latest sojourn led us to the venerable watering hole known as the Goose, as in Whyte Goose Inn. The jury is still out on whether it's in the area known as Banks.  If it's not, it's close. We turn to our readers: Anyone out there know the boundaries of Banks, official or otherwise? [UPDATE: A map at the Historical Museum of Bay County shows that the Whyte Goose would have been within the boundaries of Banks.] 

Now here's a bar that has everything -- a shuffleboard table (Baldo got his ass kicked again), pool table, dart board, TVs, jukebox, Bud Light posters, full bar, an ATM, display cases of sports trophies and other memorabilia, used paperback books up for grabs, and NASCAR hoods hanging from the dropped ceiling.  Plus all the state gambling offerings -- lottery games, Keno and pull tabs. 

The menu includes pickles and dogs. When we stopped in on a too-cold midweek afternoon, four guys were in the side room playing Smear and one of them had with him, ironically, a dog named Pickles. After a few drinks, it could get confusing.
Pickles (the dog)
One of the Smear players said we could pet the dog -- for a quarter.  But Pickles, a pretty 4-month old golden retriever pup, wasn't the least bit interested in tariffs; he was just interested in loving and being loved in return.  And though they do serve food, Jody the bartender said it wasn't much called for, at least during the day.

Miller Lite, Bud Light and Busch (not light) are on tap. A glass on draft is $1. A whiskey and water (the hairy guy decided to branch out) filled a beer glass (and who cares how much it cost, eh?). A 22-ouncer (of beer, that is) is $2. And during the four-hour happy hour (3-7 p.m.), cans of beer are $1. If you really feel happy, t
he menu also includes pickled bologna (with crackers, only $2.50).

The name -- Whyte Goose Inn -- left us wondering. Whyte was probably the owner's name. But Goose? Jody didn't know ("I just work here"); she was young and certainly not around at the bar's inception.  But a guy sitting at the end of the bar and watching a spring training game on a TV -- Jody called him "Easy" -- said it was named after two partners, Whyte and a guy named Gooseman (or was it Guzman?  Goosman?). Before that, old timers agree, the place was named Augie's.

Remembering Zeke
And the place was hopping, relatively, for a weekday, keeping Jody too busy for much talk. So far it was the most populated of the bars we've visited. The crowd was mostly of retirement age but some younger guys were dressed in contractor garb (Carhartts, hoodies, work boots, etc.); right now, business is slow. 

Another first was the number of women. Again, more than any other place.  They were all with someone, except one woman who was by herself, very busy doing paperwork. Taxes, maybe?  Nobody bothered her and we assume she was a regular.  And a couple came in and sat across from each other and drank beer and didn't say a word to each other for over an hour.  They're probably married. 

If you're looking for chrome and glitz, you won't find it here.  The "Goose" is a working class bar in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city.  There's a sense of continuity that spans the years; you can sense it by the old paneling and the trophies and other trinkets in the cases. 

Perhaps the one thing that best symbolizes this is a picture hanging high on a wall, a head shot of a handsome, gray-haired man. Jody didn't know his name but knew he was an old-time regular who died within the last two years.  The picture hangs above a huge Budweiser poster.  At first glance, the tableau seems to suggest "Look at the head on that beer," but on reflection it's more like someone raising a beer to the guy on the wall, as if to say, "From all of us here at the Whyte Goose, old friends and new, here's to you." 

It's an old neighborhood bar.  If you're old and in the neighborhood -- just joking -- you're thirsty and in the neighborhood, stop in. If not to see the hoods on the ceiling, then maybe for a chance to pet Pickles and toast old times.

   The particulars:
   Whyte Goose Inn
   108 State St.


Anonymous said...

The weekend DJ (Dennis Harttey) always does a fine job.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I can honestly say this bar is the best place to go for shuffleboard, pool, karaoke, keno, and ice cold drinks. The locals are friendly and the staff amazing!