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Dill's Olde Towne Saloon Traverse City Michigan

Dill’s Olde Towne Saloon, Traverse City, Michigan

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Dill's Olde Towne Saloon Traverse City Michigan

 

The other day I popped The Eagles Greatest Hits into my car CD player, and a memory came rushing back to me. When I was growing up in Ada, Michigan, we also had a summer house (we called it “the cottage”) outside of Traverse City, Michigan (I had a rough upbringing as you can tell). Summers were like heaven, filled with sunshine, swimming, climbing on the swing set and playing with our toys in the freshwater creek that ran along the side of the house. However the memory that the song Take it Easy brought back is a different one.

Once a summer, every summer, we would visit Dill’s Olde Towne Saloon. Dill’s, as we lovingly referred to it, dated back to 1886 when it was opened by a “bohemian” (lol) named Antoine Novotny. It was originally called Novotny’s Saloon and served as a social center for the Traverse City’s south side in the late 1800s. In 1939 it was purchased by William Dill, which is where the bar/restaurant got its name. The building is a state-registered historic site.

Anyway, back to the memory. Once a summer, we would get all dressed-up and my mom would curl my hair and we would go to Dill’s for dinner. I could barely contain my excitement during the preparations, then the car ride, and then waiting in the long hallway that served as the lobby. Although I was thrilled with the virgin strawberry daiquiri and deep fried breaded shrimp I would order, the real reason I loved Dill’s was the music. Dill’s had a live band aka the Golden Garter Review. For me it was the most thrilling thing imaginable since for as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a singer.

The group always consisted of a live band and normally about 4 singers as well. They would sing anything from The Eagles to The Pointer Sisters. I hung on each note, hoping and wishing that I had been born with a singing voice good enough to do this myself one day. I knew this would never be, as I was a terrible singer (or so I had been told many times) so it was somewhat bittersweet to watch them doing something I so longed to do. My parents and I would speculate on whether they attended the prestigious Interlochen nearby and they would point out to me that these young people must be the best of the best as hundreds of people would probably have auditioned for a job like this. At the end of the evening I would go home with a song in my heart and in my head, knowing that in bed that night I would be picturing myself up there singing.

I recently Googled (actually I Yahoo!d, but that doesn’t look or sound right) Dill’s and found out that it has closed. That makes me really sad. However, I still have my memories, and my dream…that eventually came true.

*Thanks to www.traverseticker.com for the photo!

 

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