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Tavern teachings

Life lessons come cheap Ñ the price of a beer Ñ at the Hutch

All I really need to know I learned at the Hutch.

Life is like shuffleboard.

Push too lightly, and you don't accomplish much. Push too hard, and you risk going over the edge. It doesn't hurt to put a little spin on things. Strategy is a great idea, but you can't count on it.

Clocks are best set at 'bar time.'

The Hutch management understands the psychological benefits of building a little extra time into their patrons' visits. The clock is set 15 minutes fast, giving the impression that there's still time for one last joke, sip or lie.

A good song binds friends.

A birthday, a spilled beer, a first-time visit: It doesn't take much to set off a hearty rendition of the Hutch's theme song:

'Hooray for Jill, hooray at last, hooray for Jill, for she's a horse's ass!'

If you're going to die, do it among friends.

Pat, a 50-ish veteran of the Hutch, warmly recalls the demise of Denny, a curmudgeon and one of the tavern's former owners. 'For years, every time I came in, Denny would say the same thing: 'What the &#@$ do you want?' He died one night Ñ right there on that stool. É'

Clutter is shorthand for 'artifact.'

'A lot of this is the same stuff that Hutch, the guy that started the bar, brought in when he started the place,' Pat says. A bust of W.C. Fields, for example, recalls the day when an entire wall was papered in the comedian's image. There doesn't appear to have been a clearheaded decorating plan since, giving the tavern a fascinating 'time capsule' feel.

More cops equals fewer fights.

'The Hutch was originally a cops bar,' says the fiftysomething Billy, a longtime customer. 'They'd come from the station up the street. A lot of them still come here.' Their presence is said to be the reason behind the tavern's peaceful atmosphere.

If you're going to get drunk, do it close to home.

'I can walk home if I have to,' Billy says, underscoring the true beauty of the neighborhood bar.

Mohawks tend to come out later at night.

'The crowd definitely gets younger as the night goes on,' says Chip, the twentysomething bartender, serving up a last round to the older patrons at the bar. 'But everybody mixes well no matter what time it is. A guy with a mohawk can come here and fit right in.'

Don't bring a first date to a strange tavern.

Pat points out that a fellow is tempting fate by bringing a hopeful honey to a strange venue. Things are different at the Hutch: 'You can bring a lady in here, and she won't get hit on,' he says.

There's a difference between a tavern and a bar.

'A tavern serves beer, and a bar serves liquor,' explains Billy, a former bar owner who still harbors some bitterness toward the Oregon Liquor Control Commission's invasive bureaucracy. 'If you serve booze, then you have to have food. It's all regulated, down to the number of vegetables you serve. It wasn't worth it.'

Blue-collar taverns are cozier than white-collar bars.

'People embrace you here,' says Larry, a thirtysomething Hutch regular. Pat chimes in: 'This place is like home. Sometimes I call people on my way here and say, 'If you need to reach me, I'll be in my living room.' '

Contact Jill Spitznass at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .