[West Bank, Minneapolis.]
[South Saint Paul.]
[Hamline-Midway, Saint Paul.]
[University Avenue, Saint Paul.]
|[A Highland Villager adopting a transient lifestyle.]|
|[Siegfried does a parking study.]|
Fleming, Clarence G. "Flem" 10 year veteran, United States Marine Corps On May 14, 2016, God needed a cribbage partner and he chose the BEST. Flem spent 79 years perfecting the art of telling jokes and becoming a master storyteller. Flem was a faithful son, remarkable brother, devoted husband, proud father, adored grandfather, warm-hearted uncle, helpful neighbor, and valued friend. Flem was also larger than life with his booming voice, infectious laugh, and generous heart. Flem was the ultimate family man, a selfless community supporter, a strong promoter for upcoming musicians, and a contributor to rugby clubs. As owner and bartender extraordinaire at the Terminal Bar for 51 years, he loved to enliven, captivate, and entertain the customers with his sense of humor and joyful hospitality.Flem's passing holds a special place in my heart because he was synonymous with one of the purest examples of the "dive bar" genre in the Twin Cities. After the tour in January, I recently published a guide booklet that included some stuff about Flem and his bar. Here's an excerpt:
The Terminal Bar is Kryptonite to progress, so resistant to change that the walls reflexively tighten with each smart phrase unsheathed. Its timelessness is to the dicey credit of its owner, who recently celebrated his 50th anniversary of owning the place.
[Flem's back nook.]
Flem bought the bar in ‘65 coming out of the Marines and unable to find a straightforward job. For the next half-century, he and his wife have run The Terminal, which he calls a “working man’s and families bar”, though he admits it’s a dive. Annette opens it up around 4:30 and Flem gets there at 7:00 to keep it going until nobody remains.
The bar itself is 84 years old. I assume Flem is around the same age. I also assume the name comes from its proximity to the old Great Northern Depot. These days it has the feel of last legs: piles of strange objects stacked in corners, forgotten walls, a broken scale. It’s a reminder of mortality and, because of that, it’s one of the purest examples of the dive bar genre you’ll find in the Twin Cities.
Wandering here resembles exploring the basement of an old uncle’s house, decades of accumulated entropy. Unfulfilled intentions, good ideas at the time, areas of taste and gathered acquaintance piled up and fill rooms claustrophobically like spiderwebs. Across the wall from the bar, a display case half-full of classic car models, small plaques, the remnants of long ago trends. In the back past the stage, a large green scale, glass display cracked, a masterpiece of an era when weight was a novelty. Objects settle like calcium marking time, and it reminds me of nothing more than memories of a childhood home, complete with aging humans. But like Grandma’s, there’s something sad about The Terminal, meaning endpoint.
|[So... don't go to The Terminal for fine dining, then?]|
|[Newspaper at the Sunrise Inn.]|
|[The Terminal doorway: open or closed?]|
The hipster movement has taken a lot of the ol- time bars and made them if not posh, a comfortable mix of the old and new. For example, the 1029 Bar whose ceiling is literally covered in brassieres, and walls with shot up police car doors (rumored to have been done by Country kitchener Toby Keith). Yet there you can get the best lobster roll this side of Maine. Anyhow, the part of town where my mom didn't like me hanging out has become a foodie paradise that's written about in pull-out sections of newspapers.
The saying goes, evolve or die, and that seems to be the way of most of the bars in Nordeast. This is what makes the Terminal Bar weirdly special: It has done neither. The interior is much the same as I remember it from when I went in as a dare in college. I imagine it's much the same as it was in 1964, when the current owners, the Flemings, took over from the previous owner who happened to be the parents. They had owned it since 1935. Prior to that it was -- you guessed it -- a bar.
For about four years I shared a wall with the Terminal Bar. The shop that I owned with my wife was next door, and my studio above it, which later became my home as well. The Terminal is a dedicated music venue. They have a band playing almost every night. Cover bands, original bands, good ones, bad ones, really really bad ones, metal ones, even hip-hop ones. It is sort of hilarious watching someone go on stage and talk about what a player he is while drinking a 3 dollar Mich Golden.
The booking and the bartending are all handled by Flem. He's a former Marine, owner, bartender, and just all-around good guy. He also has been sober since 1968, which given that he is behind the bar six days a week, eight hours a day is saying quite a bit. Flem is in his 70s, yet spry as a 60-year-old.
While most bars have a strong curative sense, trying to get a specific vibe or groove that sets them apart from the rest, the Terminal tends to roll with anyone that gets butts in the seats, and in doing so is sort of the ultimate bar of the proletariat. Anyone can play.
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|[Uptown at night.]|