They are the stuff of legend, especially here in Texas--"Dive Bars". The term itself has evolved since it was first coined in the 1880's. Back then, "dive bars" were often basements where patrons "dived below" to indulge in often unsavory activities. These bars were the epitome of disreputable.

That was then.  Today, the term "dive bar" is a coveted title.  Perhaps the Urban Dictionary defines them best. They define them as " A well-worn, unglamorous bar, often serving a cheap, simple selection of drinks to a regular clientele".

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With that in mind, dive bar fans have a new handbook written by Anthony Head.  "Texas Dives Enduring Neighborhood Bars of the Lone Star State" delves into the mystique and the real life drama that rises from the real nitty gritty streets and alleys of  where real Texas dive bars flourish.

Author Anthony Head is a true poet. His descriptions of Texas dive bars take on a legendary cadence that belies the fact that many of these time honored joints have a larger than life meaning to some.  As he writes: "While sometimes mischaracterized as the last respite of alcoholism, despair, and questionable motives, Texas dive bars are a reminder that life is not limited to the pressures and profits of the 9-to-5 world... Dives are also gathering places, where the members, lubricated by affordable beer and long pours of whisky, solve the world’s problems on a regular basis."

In his book, Anthony Head visits 12 bars in 12 Texas cities to "plead their case for the significance of these neighborhood institutions". One of the cities and one of the bars is right here in San Angelo.  In fact, there is a whole chapter on the Saddle Bronc.

Photo: Google Maps
Photo: Google Maps

If you are interested in learning more about the book and the author, Anthony Head is having a book signing event at Saddle Bronc today, August 16th. The Saddle Bronc is at 204 East Avenue L in San Angelo.

If you have treasured memories of nights in a "dive bar", then you can't afford to miss this adventure. As Anthony Head writes in the book: "While it’s true that dives may attract a few wastrels and rapscallions, it’s more likely that the regular customers are as solid as the next citizen; they just prefer a comfortable environment, a drink or two, and time away from whatever’s going on outside the front door. They feel as though they belong to the bar, and that the bar belongs to them."

Sometimes, we could all use a place just like that. Afterall, it's a Texas tradition.



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