Jun 30, 2016

You won’t stumble upon Scotty’s Sandbar by accident

Nancy, behind the bar before she flees the country
Doc’s report:

Every bar we’ve covered in the three-plus years of this blog is within a block or two of a Metro bus route -- until now.

Exactly 0.79 miles south on the twisting and narrow Evergreen Drive on Middlegrounds Island you’ll find Scotty’s Sandbar. Or maybe you won’t. I didn’t, until I backtracked, which is why that 0.79 miles will come in handy. It’s right across from the landfill. And well worth the trip. 

First, there’s the setting -- right on the river, surrounded by trees and greenery. It’s at a deep part of the river, perfect for docking larger boats and launching excursions on the Princess Wenonah and Islander. The large wooden dock looks perfect for fishing.

If you miss Scotty’s and go another 0.79 miles to the end of the island, you can see where the river divides, and the well-groomed 40 or so houses whose isolated residents are said to enjoy
View from the deck
the visitors that Scotty’s attracts. 

Then there’s the venue itself -- a cavernous hall perfect for weddings, dancing, retirement parties, birthdays and graduation celebrations. Scott recently acquired the liquor license of the Golden Dragon on Euclid and is building its bar offerings methodically.

On Wednesdays, there’s a vodka bar with fruit juices; on Saturdays, a Bloody Mary bar with your choice of garnishes. We learned, as we always do, a drink popular with locals: Captain Morgan rum and Diet Coke. That’s appropriate to the maritime setting.

But, more so than the setting, venue and drink offerings, the bartender sets the tone. That was particularly true on a recent Thursday afternoon, when the cavern was empty, save for me, Harry and Nancy. (Scotty was mowing the lawn.)

Most bartenders have a job in addition to bartending. There are the predictable jobs in the food and entertainment industry: waiters, caterers, musicians. Some are teachers. We’ve met one who
Inside Scotty's Sandbar
sells eggs from the free-range chickens she raises.

Nancy’s job is the most interesting. She teaches English, math and other subjects, in English, to middle school children abroad, through International Schools Services.  She’s taught in Turkey and Poland, came home from Brazil because she couldn’t find clean water, and spent five years in South Korea. She tells us that the political campaign season in South Korea is three weeks long, typically with 12 candidates, who campaign on street corners.

We were lucky to meet her, because she’s off for a two-year stint in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. But she’ll be back; her roots run deep. Her ex was in a band with Scotty. Now her son is in Blues Mobile, the house band at Scotty’s.

At Scotty’s and seemingly every other bar in Bay City, there are several big-screen TVs with sports. I guess there’s a reason for that. Some even call themselves sports bars. After the weather and politics, it’s the most common topic of conversation. I use it as a conversation starter.

For example, as we were leaving Scotty’s, a well-tanned man entered. He was from Michigan and on a return visit but has retired to Sarasota. Turns out, he was a classmate of Dennis Wirgowski, and
Dance floor and stage
a good enough friend to have spent the day before Dennis’s death with him. (Dennis played at Central High, then was a defensive end for Purdue and then for the NFL’s Patriots and Eagles.)

Just in our last four visits, I’ve met relatives or close friends of the “who’s who” in Bay County sports: the nephew of gold medalist speed skater Terry McDermott, the nephew of MLB pinch hitter Jerry Lynch, an aging fan of 1930s NFL all-pro Bill Hewitt, the players on All Saints’ back-to-back state basketball championships in the ’70s. And so many men over 50 on the east side who played for Lefty Franz at St. Stan’s or Elmer Engel at Central.

It’s nice to know, in a summer when politics divides us, that there are places like Scotty’s -- and the other unsung bars of Bay City -- where we come together on a topic that unites us.

See the hairy guy’s report on the Sandbar: A sunny spot along the river; no sand or Manhattan, but who cares?

1 comment:

The Process said...

Looking forward to Reggae Music Night on the water with Shaolin Sound System at Scotty's Sandbar, Saturday July 16th!