Tuesday, April 03, 2007

red key tavern

Jerry piloted us back to Indiana safely.
I'll be writing about our trip soon.




April 2 is the 56th anniversary of Russel Settle owning the Red Key Tavern.
I have worked at the Red Key for over five years, in several capacities.

Russel celebrated his 89th birthday on St. Valentine's Day.
He's a legendary curmudgeon.
When he asked me to work there it felt like an appointment from the Governor.

He grew up in the Pleasant Run Children's Home and attended Franklin College.

He joined the Army Air Corps, 381 Bomb Group.

Arrived in England December 23, 1942
Shot down January 30, 1944
Captured February 28, 1944
Liberated April 29, 1945

He purchased the Red Key in 1951.
He is a widower with six children and many grandchildren.


Russel runs a tight ship at the tavern.

The bar is famous for its rules.
They are very simple:
1. Don't move the furniture.
What other business do you frequent that you just start moving stuff around?
2. No chairs in the aisle.
The place is small, and the aisle needs to be kept clear for people--and me, if you want a cocktail.

3. Hang your coat up.
Do you really want your coat to touch the bar floor?

4. No swearing.
Hint: just don't swear as loud as Russel.

5. No table hopping*.
Pick a place and keep it.

6. The bartender is always right.
I have trouble with this one...unless of course, I'm the bartender.

I am thrilled to be part of the Red Key.
I love working at a business with so much history.
The Red Key attracts a very diverse crowd.
I've met the Governor, the Mayor and every politician in between. Neighborhood folks, musicians, writers and artists hang out there.
Kurt Voggegut Jr., John Hiatt and Dan Wakefield all called the Red Key home.

Russel is also very generous. He collected money for the orphanage for years. When the children's home closed he started donating money to the Children's Bureau. Last year the "ceiling fund" raised over $8000.00. Working for a non-profit agency, I can imagine the look on their face when Russel handed them the check this year. When people donate money we toss the money toward the ceiling and the money sticks up there. I can do it, but get teased for throwing like a girl (two handed).
I could tell you how it works, but I'd have to ....you know the rest.

One rare night we had no customers for two hours.
Russel played harmonica for me and told war stories.
That is the best time I've ever spent there.


I am thankful to Russel for letting me work part-time all of these years. It has kept a roof over my head and allowed me the freedom to find a great job.



*I break the moving around rule too often. Russel calls me "a fart on a griddle."

6 comments:

Cliff Morrow said...

Russel sounds like a good guy and a great businessman. I love folks who know what they're doing and are steady. He's steady.
btw he also must have good taste in help.

Rachel said...

Sounds like a great guy!! I never heard of a fart on a griddle, but I have heard of a fart in a whirlwind!

Glad you and Jerry made a safe trip home. Hope you took pictures to share of your trip!

Jamie Dawn said...

Russel sounds like a great guy!
He's got some mighty fine rules there, and I suppose he'll forgive you for being unable to stay in one place.
I read Cliff's post, so I know you and Jerry had a great time with the Morrows.

Teresa said...

I have never been there and I have lived here my whole life. I will have to go sometime.

Michelle said...

This is Granddaughter #1--Give Grandpa Settle a smooch next time you see him from Baby Michelle (turning 36 next week) and Great Grandbaby Sophia!

Anonymous said...

Ah I love the Red Key. I have a neighbor to the left of my house, and the Red Key to the right. I'm better friends with the Red Key.