Blood and Beer at Pat’s Idle Hour Lounge in Waco

Pat’s Idle Hour Lounge was a hole-in-the-wall Black bar just across from the Waco Tribune-Herald.

The concrete floor was so filthy, your shoes made that sticking-and-unsticking sound as you walked.

But every now and again, a covey of us lily white young reporters would scurry across Franklin Ave. into Pat’s for a couple of really cold, cheap beers.

We were completely safe, because we’d had basic survival training from an older, majorly alcoholic reporter.

“You’re pretty safe at Pat’s. Just don’t say anything to anyone, don’t look at anyone, sit in the back, and make sure you leave before it gets dark, or you’re dead.”

You also had to make sure you didn’t sit on a discarded syringe or a rusty razor blade.

I think the Black regulars at Pat’s, at least the “daylight crowd”, sort of got a kick out of “the white kids” coming in for a beer. Even so, there was always tension just below the surface.

Waco was not a “sundown” town, if those still existed in 1982, but it was racist, nonetheless.

Sure, there were a few dozen black athletes mixed in with 10,000 white kids who went to college heavily protected by the Big Baylor Baptist Bubble.

But you also had the black ghetto of East Waco, where a cop once told me: “You do not go at night unless you want to become a statistic.”

To be fair, Waco had about the same level of crime as most cities its size.

But maybe because East Waco was so Black and sad, and Baylor was so white and giddy, it made the place far worse, at least to me.

I lost my affection for Pat’s Idle Hour Lounge on one afternoon visit when I found a bloody straight-razor in our booth.

And when a cop told me that he’d recently had to crawl under the tables at Pat’s looking for a woman’s nose.  It had been cut off by an ashtray swung by another woman in a fight over a man.


2 Responses to “Blood and Beer at Pat’s Idle Hour Lounge in Waco”

  1. Steve D says:

    One of my uncles was in the NYPD so there were a lot of police type friends. One day an EMT friend of my cousin’s was regaling us with tales from the Dark Side (Newark). A buddy of his who worked in the ‘burbs told him one day “We had a rough night. We had a homicide.” To which the other retorted “You had A homicide?” Then he showed him his patrol book where every other page had one.

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