Said update is, for me, a sad one.
I must report that The Alamo has fallen again. This rugged old establishment that has endured in North Platte since 1873 (in one form or other, in one location or other, always maintaining the scarred but proud old serving bar where Buffalo Bill himself did some of his drinking back in the day) has come to an end.
I was shocked when I happened to be in North Platte a week or so ago and decided to swing by for a cold one and ... the Alamo was closed for business and being dismantled before my very eyes! The wonderful old mural on the outside south wall depicting Bill hunting buffalo had been painted over and was now just a blank wall, painted a sort of baby puke pink in color! And out front of the main entrance sat a huge construction dumpster into which workmen were tossing slabs of torn-down wallboard and other items they were carrying out from the gutted interior. I tried to tell myself that maybe they were just remodeling ... but I already knew that wasn't the case.
Nevertheless, I pulled over to the curb and caught the eye of one of the workers. He was a young fellow in his mid twenties and when I questioned him about what was going on, he confirmed my worst fears. The Alamo was out of business, not slated for a new location this time, just on its way to being gone forever. And adding insult to injury? A beauty parlor is going in its place! (Maybe the puke pink color of that outer wall is going to be their special tint for hair dying.)
The only saving grace is that the young worker told me that the grand old bar had been purchased - by somebody in the Denver area, he thought - and was already hauled safely away. I haven't had a chance to pursue that lead, but I will. Maybe it went to a private collector. If not, if it gets put into use again in some new bar that appreciates its history, I'd drive a considerable distance just to track it down and have another drink on it.
We'll have to see.
But even at that, it won't be the same. Buffalo Bill's bar belongs in North Platte, damn it.
Still, I did my drinking there in the past. They can paint over the building, convert it, and move away the bar ... But they can't take my memories or my imagination.
From February, 2012
There is an inextricable link between Buffalo Bill Cody and North Platte—what we here in Ogallala (52 miles west) consider the nearest "big town" for a broader range of shopping, etc. The town of North Platte fully embraces its Cody history, as evidenced by everything from the brickwork "gates" containing images of Cody as you enter the city limits off I-80, to the colorful "Fort Cody" museum and gift shop, to Cody Park (with a glassed-in, lifesize statue of Cody at its entrance) to Scout's Rest, which Buffalo Bill built and where he resided during the late 1880s.
Scout's Rest is now a State Historical Site. Cody initially left it to his sister with the instructions that in the event any "old scout" should travel through in need of a hot meal and a place to rest his head for a night or two, she should accommodate him. Hence the name.
North Platte is also the place where, in 1882, at the behest of the town fathers, Cody staged a rootin'-tootin', ropin' and ridin' exhibition to celebrate the Fourth of July. He called it his "Old Glory Blowout" and it served as the blueprint for what would soon expand and become his world-famous Buffalo Bill's Wild West.
But the piece of North Platte-Cody memorabilia that has always fascinated me the most is the little tavern tucked in a corner off the beaten path down near the Union Pacific railroad tracks. It's called the Alamo Bar and boasts of being in business since 1873. Moreover, it boasts that its still-in-use serving bar also dates back that far and, in its prime, was frequently bellied up to by none other than Bufallo Bill himself.
My days of drinking with any regularity are mostly past, but I'm known to still bend an elbow on occasion. And resting said elbow on the very same bar where Buffalo Bill rested his … well, who could resist?
I don't get over to the Alamo Bar all that often but, whenever I do, the experience, for me, is always the same. Even though the place has changed hands since I started going there (now aiming to be a sports bar) the bar itself is still as it was. Polished-over thousands of times, still a pale brown in color, still scarred and nicked and initial-carved and cigarette-scorched … in short, simply glorious. And when I hitch up a stool and sit down, the chatter and juke box music that otherwise fills the place seems to fade away, perhaps only for a moment or two, and its just me and Ol' Bill … excuse me, sir—Colonel Cody … and maybe one of the North brothers who have dropped by today, maybe even that rascal Print Olive prowling in out of the wild country …
Then the reverie is over and it's back to Now and I know it was all just another piece of a daydream (like us crazy writers are wont to have more often than regular folks). But, brief though it was, it was a grand little fantasy … And I'll be returning to have me another round the first chance I get.
Persevere — WD